For the past several years many drivers have tried to make the jump from karting to single-seaters through the Formula Renault Eurocup. In 2017, three drivers want to follow in the footsteps of Esteban Ocon and Nyck de Vries, who today compete respectively in F1 and GP2. Lets now take stock with a trio of young chargers who have much to learn

This year, Thomas Neubauer (Tech 1 Racing), Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer (JD Motorsport) and Renault Sport Academy member Sun Yue Yang (JD Motorsport) are making the transition from karting to single-seaters. While they have yet to score points, they are redoubling their ambitions going into the second half of the season.

Formula Renault, an obvious choice

After finishing third in the French KZ2 Long Circuit Championship, Thomas Neubauer chose the Formula Renault Eurocup for his first full season in single-seaters.

“At my age, I don’t have a lot of time to waste”, says Thomas Neubauer, third in the French KZ2 Long Circuit Championship at the tender age of 18. “You have to prepare quickly in order to not be too far behind. My runs in the Formula Renault NEC, V de V and in the Toyota Racing Series let me get a chance to see how the weekends are run, the starts, the battles in the field and all the necessary details ahead of my first season.”

“The Formula Renault Eurocup is ideal for getting started“, adds Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer, who won a karting title last year in France. “The car is perfect for learning with its superior aerodynamics compared to F4, but also a self-locking differential, which brings us closer to the upper categories.”

“The Formula Renault Eurocup is ideal for getting started, the car is perfect for learning.”

Encouraging starts and targeted progress

“I know this year will be a real challenge“, confirms Renault Sport Academy member Sun Yue Yang. “Like Thomas and Jean-Baptiste, I have come directly to Formula Renault and single-seaters are different from karting in every way : the structure, the complexity of the races, personal discipline…The challenge is to progress and make up ground while also picking up enough experience in the first year in order to return in a much better position the following season.”

“It is a radically different experience that requires another approach to racing“ adds Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer. “You have to adopt a new way of working with an enormous amount of things to take into consideration and with cars that are a lot more sophisticated. You could almost say it is like re-learning everything. I know that the transition will be hard because I have to learn the circuits on the calendar. Only putting in laps will allow me to gain experience, hence a learning process that ends often only at the end of the first race.”

High-speed learning

“I do not regret any of my choices“, explains Thomas Neubauer. “The competition is extremely tough with other drivers who have already put in a season or two in F4 or in Formula Renault. I only spent two years in karting. I am gaining a lot of experience while also knowing that there are 15 drivers capable of racing for the title. This is certainly not ideal for getting immediate results and it might have been easier in F4, but I am convinced that I can progress faster in Formula Renault.”

“The competition is extremely tough with other drivers who have already put in a season or two in F4 or in Formula Renault. I am gaining a lot of experience while also knowing that there are 15 drivers capable of racing for the title. This is certainly not ideal for getting immediate results, but I am convinced that I can progress faster in Formula Renault.”

“Other than the sporting aspect, the car is really formative“ he concludes. “The mechanical grip is good and it is not easy to find the limits of the aerodynamic grip compared to an F4. When we employ these criteria on the F1 circuits found on the calendar, we can really feel that driver training is favoured.”

“At this stage in my career, results are not all that matter“, concedes Sun Yue Yang. “My learning period is concentrated on a number of aspects that were unknown to me a few months ago : to know how to use the track, fine-tune my lines, move up through the field, but also accept to be overtaken… Each lesson learned must be applied as fast as possible because the competition level is high.”

“Each lesson learned must be applied as fast as possible because the competition level is high.”

Determined to progress

“We had a solid meeting at Monza before experiencing some bad luck”, says Thomas Neubauer. “While the results have yet to come, the speed is there. The main area to work on is still qualifying. I start too far back and it forces me to have to move up through the field to hope to score points. I have the full support of the team to continue to improve and achieve it is soon as possible.”

”I am confident for the future”, affirms Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer. “Even though the start of the season was complicated due to some race incidents and two very difficult street races for the rookies, I think we are close to scoring points on the more conventional tracks. Despite my lack of testing, I was 11th at Monza before getting caught up in accident. And taking into account the progress we’ve made and to what has to be made in qualifying, I look forward to Circuit Paul Ricard and Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the only two tracks that I have already driven on !”

”The step between karting and single-seaters is very big”, concludes Sun Yue Yang. “I am thrilled to be able to count on the daily help from the Renault Sport Academy with a precise preparation programme and specific training plans to best exploit all the mental and physical aspects and gain confidence. I also appreciate the full support of my team, my coach Bruno Besson (winner of the 1998 Formula Renault Eurocup, Editor’s note) and my engineer. Now it is up to me to work that much harder to make it into the top ten before the end of the season. To reach this stage would be ideal to reward all of our work.”

Retour en haut