The Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 teams returned to Estoril on this Tuesday for the rookie test. 26 drivers were on hand in the field mixed with known faces and young hopefuls invited by Renault Sport Racing. Present last year as an invitee, Sacha Fenestraz (Josef Kaufmann Racing) posted the best time of the day in 1:36.602 ahead of rookies Yifei Ye (R-ace GP) and Thomas Preining (JD Motorsport).
The first four-hour session went the way of Sacha Fenestraz. Beginning on a wet track surface, the drivers switched to slicks in hour three. The French driver set a best lap of 1:37.338 to lead the way ahead of Alexander Vartanyan (JD Motorsport) et Alexey Korneev (Fortec Motorsports). Invited drivers, Yifei Ye and Gilles Magnus (Josef Kaufmann Racing) completed the top five.
Lap times improved in the afternoon despite a few drops of rain in the final hour. After improving to 1:36.602, Sacha Fenestraz held on to the top spot on the time sheet ahead of two of the young talents invited by Renault Sport Racing: Yifei Ye and Thomas Preining. Alexander Vartanyan and rookie Job van Uitert (JD Motorsport) followed.
Sacha Fenestraz (Josef Kaufmann Racing) – P1 (1:36.602): “It is hard for me to believe that a year ago, I was one of the rookies invited by Renault Sport Racing! The year went be so fast and it is strange because I can no longer compare myself to other newcomers! They are making the most of this opportunity to learn just like I did last year. For my part, today I am discovering another way of working with a new team. I am trying to progress in qualifying, while adapting to the car and its set-ups in order to compare the data to what the team has.”
Yifei Ye (R-ace GP) – Champion, French F4 – P2 (1:36.954): “This was my first official day in a Formula Renault 2.0 of this generation and that’s not too bad! It is an effective car, fast on the straights. It has good acceleration, excellent grip and powerful brakes. It is all remarkable? I have the feeling that everything is perfect on this car!”
Thomas Preining (JD Motorsport) – 4th, ADAC Formel 4 – P3 (1:37.025): “I really like how the Formula Renault 2.0 drives. Compared to the F4 and its turbo engine, the sound is nice! The aerodynamics are really good and the behavior of the brakes is impressive. The car brakes a lot better and a lot later. It seems really well adapted for allowing drivers coming from karting and the lower categories to learn!”
Job van Uitert (JD Motorsport) – 4th, Italian F4 Championship – P5 (1:37.488) : “I had already tested the Formula Renault 1.6, but the power of the Formula Renault 2.0 makes it impossible to make a comparison. It is also different from the F4, which you can control when it over-steers for example. Today, you have to drive cleanly, without sliding to be fast. It is a difficult car and I understand why two years of experience is needed to get the most from it. It is a good option for next year and now we need to study what’s coming up!”
Gilles Magnus (Josef Kaufmann Racing) – 2nd, French F4 Championship – P6 (1:37.528): “I have already driven the Formula Renault 2.0 one time and it is impressive as well as totally different than the F4. I had a really good time. The car is faster with increased grip and better brakes that are used much later! To drive this car in 2017 would be the most logical solution, but we still have to evaluate our options.”
Max Fewtrell (Tech 1 Racing) – Champion, British F4 – P7 (1:37.561): “I had never driven this car before. It is a bit more powerful and more aerodynamic than the F4 that I raced this year and I really enjoyed my time ! I still have to get used to the impressive power of the brakes. It is the biggest change that I can see. My aim is to race in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 next year.”
Sennan Fielding (Fortec Motorsports) – 2nd, British F4 – P10 (1:37.791): “The Formula Renault 2.0 is mega. It is a huge step from the British F4 car. I had to get familiar with it this morning, but as soon as I was comfortable, I felt very good. To pick up the last tenths of a second is still a real challenge and I could feel all of its aerodynamics in turn 13! This is definitely where I want to race next year. So, its fingers crossed to confirm this opportunity!”
James Pull (Tech 1 Racing) – 4th, British F4 – P11 (1:37.806): “My first impressions and feelings are really good about the Formula Renault 2.0. Its grip level and power are rather nice and it is quite a different experience from the British F4. I had a lot of fun today. The way the package is built and works is remarkable. I learned a lot about weight transfer. I would like to continue to the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, but we will have to see if it is possible to do so!”
Tristan Charpentier (R-ace GP) – 4th, French F4 Championship – P14 (1’38’’143): “To be invited to discover the Formula Renault 2.0 is a fantastic opportunity offered by Renault Sport Racing. I am also driving at Estoril for the first time. It is a lot different from the F4 which I drove this year! It is slightly more powerful, but it is radically different in terms of handling thanks to the aerodynamics and softer tyres. You also have to learn how to set times over two laps. I don’t have enough experience to say if this car does a good job forming drivers, but I think that we can believe it does when you look at the known names that competed in this category!”
Alex Quinn (Fortec Motorsports) – Rookie of the year in British F4 – P17 (1:38.441): “I learned so much about the Formula Renault 2.0 this morning ! I am delighted about this important learning opportunity that is the goal of this rookie test. It is an incredible car and everything is better than the F4! The grip and power is impressive. I hope to be back in this car next year. In the context of my career, I have so much to learn from this car and the tough level of competition it offers.”
Raúl Guzmán (AVF by Adrián Vallés) – 3rd, Italian F4 Championship – P21 (1:39.345): “It is a good car and an exceptional open-wheel car for learning. I race in F4 and the Formula Renault 2.0 is faster thanks to its downforce and power, which are its principal qualities for drivers coming from karting and F4. I really hope to be able to be here next year.”
Javier Cobián (AVF by Adrián Vallés) – 5th, French F4 Championship – P23 (1:39.689): “Like all the drivers invited today, I would like to thank Renault for this unique opportunity. My first day in Formula Renault 2.0 was a little difficult, but I progressed lap after lap. The most remarkable thing when you are behind the wheel is the power and extra grip.”
Leonardo Lorandi (TS Corse) – WSK Super Masters Series KZ2 Winner – P24 (1:40.759): “This was my second day in an open-wheel car. I am coming from karting and I knew it would be tough to be fast straight away. We made progress each time we went out. I find the Formula Renault 2.0 very different from an F4. It is more sophisticated, more powerful and more sensitive. Renault Sport is offering us a great experience and a good day of testing.”