In 2017, the Italian team made the daring wager of entering three rookies in the Formula with Renault Eurocup : Renault Sport Academy driver Sun Yue Yang, SMP Racing protégé Alexander Vartanyan and Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer. Despite ten points scoring finishes, Roberto Cavallari believes his drivers didn’t succeed in reaching their objectives and the team will have to do better in 2018 !
JD Motorsport is among the most successful teams in Formula Renault history. In the Eurocup alone, the little "Scuderia" has left its mark on the discipline with the driver championships between 1996-1999, while also winning six team’s title (1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2006). Since his full-time return in 2015, Roberto Cavallari and his squad has tried to return to its glory days…
Three rookies to mature
“At the start of the year, we knew the 2017 season would be one of the most competitive in the Formula Renault Eurocup over the past few years”, says the Italian. “There were 30 cars, all entrusted to high-calibre teams and very talented drivers. With our three drivers, who were competing in their first full season, we knew it would be difficult to add another title to our collection, but we never turn down a challenge…”
At the first meeting of the season on home soil, Alexander Vartanyan took the reins of the team in finishing in the points. The Russian did it again twice at Monaco while his team mates had more difficulties.
“It is always difficult for a Team Manager to see two of his three cars not qualify for the curtain raiser for the Monaco Grand Prix”, confides Roberto. “Nonetheless, Alexander did his job in finishing in the top ten at Monaco, then three times at the Hungaroring. His weekend was the highlight of our season to be honest, and it came at the right time after the Monaco disappointment !”
Alexander Vartanyan’s top five finish in Hungary was his best result of the season. While he didn’t win among the rookies, the Russian was one of the most consistent newcomers. More than once, he was the best rookie in his qualifying group and his race pace was strong with two fastest race laps among the first-year drivers. In parallel, Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer and Sun Yue Yang continued to learn since moving from karting to one of the most competitive categories in the world !
Just until the end of the year, the JD Motorsport engineers and mechanics never gave up and their work was rewarded with more points at Spa-Francorchamps and Barcelona. Eighth in the general classification, the team from Vespolate is now looking forward to move on to 2018 !
“In my opinion, it was a season to forget”, he says when reviewing the season. “In hindsight, we can say that we can only do better in 2018. The rookie tests were promising. With Lorenzo Colombo, coming from F4 Italia, we saw the potential is there because we were at the top of the time sheet all day. It is up to us to find the best possible elements !”
Only one thing is sure, the big teams never die… And it would not be wise to under-estimate a team that has already won ten titles in of the most competitive feeder series in the world !