The Formula Renault 3.5s were in action at Motorland Aragón during the first of three days of collective tests for the Formula 3.5 V8. The drivers invited by Renault Sport Technologies led the way with Matevos Isaakyan (Pons Racing) setting the best time of 1:41.505 ahead of Jake Hughes (Strakka Racing) and Kevin Jörg (Lotus). Red Bull Junior Team driver, Callum Ilott (Strakka Racing) was fourth, followed by the quickest driver in the morning session, Ben Barnicoat (Carlin).
Loyal to its detection and promotion of up and coming motor racing talent, Renault Sport Technologies invited the ten best drivers from the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, ALPS, Asia and Eurocup for a session in the Formula Renault 3.5. Under bright skies, rookie Ben Barnicoat clocked the quickest lap in the morning in 1:41.822 ahead of team mate Dean Stoneman (Carlin) and three other first-timers, Kevin Jörg, Louis Delétraz (Fortec Motorsports) and Matevos Isaakyan. The Briton’s best time stood until the final 30-minutes when Matevos Isaakyan posted the best lap of the day in 1:41.505 ahead of Jake Hughes, Kevin Jörg, Callum Ilott and Yu Kanamaru (Pons Racing).
Matevos Isaakyan (Pons Racing): “I really like this car. It is great to have so much downforce, although it is the hardest thing to master. We lacked top speed in the morning and lost more than 4/10ths of a second in the final sector, which has the longest straight. In sector two, which is more technical, I was often the fastest. The afternoon went smoothly to end the day on a very positive note.”
Jake Hughes (Strakka Racing): “Last year, I had just one day in the car. After the test at Jerez, I had all I need to know in my mind when I jumped back in the car. All the reference points quickly returned and I am happy with the work we’ve done, but there is still more to do. With this car, even when you switch to new tyres it’s another step forward. I need to continue to learn but I am very pleased with my progress to this point.”
Kevin Jörg (Lotus): “This is my second test with the Formula Renault 3.5 after Jerez. I am now more confident with the car and I was on pace early on. My third places are good results and reward for the work done by Lotus. While I am used to the power and just as powerful brakes at the end of the straights, the most impressive thing is the speed in the fast corners. Reaching the limit is extremely difficult.”
Ben Barnicoat (Carlin): “Last year, I had the chance to participate in the rookie test and I want to give a big thank you to Renault for this opportunity. I like this car more than ever and I am still just as competitive! In contrast to last November, my times were validated because I wasn’t running under the minimum weight limit! This was a first with Carlin and the morning session was superb. This is a huge step forward compared to the Formula Renault 2.0, but this car has taught me all the driving fundamentals and are helping me progress for the future.”
Louis Delétraz (Fortec Motorsports): “Despite the experience I have gained, the Formula Renault 3.5 is a crazy car with its extremely hard braking, its power and downforce. Thanks to the work we’ve done with the excellent Fortec Motorsports team, I have learned a lot and I am nearing the top of the order. While the driving technique is good, I still need to improve in the high-speed corners, but my confidence is growing each time out in the car.”
Ukyo Sasahara (Comtec Racing): “It was simply amazing - lots of feels! The morning was focused on learning the car, its carbon brakes and DRS. Despite the fairly used tyres; I accumulated laps in order to get comfortable without worrying about lap times. Thanks to the driving basics learned in the Formula Renault 2.0, I was at ease and even faster than some former Formula Renault 3.5 Series drivers in certain corners.”
Jack Aitken (Arden Motorsport): “It is an superb car. It’s still a bit of a shock compared to the Formula Renault 2.0, but the fundamentals remain the same. There are some things to improve because we are the fastest on old tyres, but we lack performance on used rubber. It is something I will need to work on in the next few days.”
Anthoine Hubert (Tech 1 Racing): “It was fantastic and I had a really good time! I want to thank Renault Sport and Tech 1 Racing for this opportunity. I had never driven such a big car before. While the power is amazing, it is nothing compared to the downforce that allows for crazy cornering speeds! Despite their efforts, the driving technique and philosophy remain the same between the Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula Renault 3.5 and we’re able to keep some reference points.”
Thiago Vivacqua (AVF): “Formula Renault 3.5 is the perfect car for learning about aerodynamic downforce and carbon brakes. As this was my first time in the car, we needed some time to come up to speed, but our best time is encouraging. Although I was still learning, I lacked confidence in turns 3 and 10, which can be taken flat out with the DRS. I finally got there, but it is a lot of work mentally!”
Dan Wells (Spirit of Race): “In 2011, I finished second in the Formula UK Winter Series behind Rowland and ahead of Kvyat. In the absence of a sponsor, I moved to Hong Kong to race in Asia and won the Asian Formula Renault title with ten consecutive victories. I am now looking to return to Europe and this opportunity offered by Renault could help me. Thanks to the team’s programme, I was able to put a lot of laps under my belt and I had a superb time this morning learning the Formula Renault 3.5 and Motorland Aragon. It is a very impressive car. With its power and huge downforce –including in the medium-speed corners - , I have never gone as fast!”