Neil Verhagen sets best time, Lorenzo Colombo dominates the Rookies Tests

The Formula Renault Eurocup teams returned to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this Tuesday for the rookies tests. 36 drivers were present in the field composed of regulars and 15 hopefuls invited by Renault Sport Racing. Neil Verhagen (Tech 1 Racing) was quickest on the day with a lap time of 1:42.146s ahead of rookies Lorenzo Colombo (JD Motorsport) and Alexander Smolyar (Tech 1 Racing).

The first three and a half hour session was dominated by Lorenzo Colombo. Run under clear skies, speeds picked up throughout the session before the run in the final hour of the Italian invited by Renault Sport Racing. With a lap of 1:42.150s, he led from the Russian pair of Alexander Smolyar and Alexander Vartanyan (R-ace GP).

Morning session

The long-time leader in the afternoon, Alexander Vartanyan was dislodged by Renault Sport Academy driver, Christian Lundgaard (MP Motorsport), Alexander Smolyar and Neil Verhagen. Despite Lorenzo Colombo answering back, the American put in a fast lap in 1:42.146s to lead from the Italian and Richard Verschoor (Josef Kaufmann Racing) at the conclusion of a session prematurely stopped by Pierre-Alexandre Jean (JD Motorsport).

Afternoon session - Combined

Quotes

Neil Verhagen (Tech 1 Racing) - 11th in the Formula Renault Eurocup – 1st in 1:42.146s : “It’s been a great day with a new team. I really felt like we made a lot of progress with my engineer during both sessions. I’m very happy where we ended up today ! See you next year !“

Lorenzo Colombo (JD Motorsport) – 3rd in the Italian F4 Championship – 2nd in 1:42.150s : “This was my first time in the Formula Renault car and we set the fastest time in the morning. I was really happy ! This car may seem simple, but there is a lot to manage and master ! I really like this car that has more power and aero than an F4 and you can brake later and I never locked up compared to F4. I have to talk with my father as I think the best step to do is to jump from F4 to Formula Renault in order to learn.”

Alexander Smolyar (Tech 1 Racing) – 3rd in the SMP F4 NEZ and 2nd in Spanish F4 – 3rd in 1’42’’202s : “It was a really good testing day. I still need to learn on new tyres as you only have two laps to set a flyer. With this car, you really start to feel the aerodynamics, especially at the entry of corners. We have a lot of grip and it’s really good to feel. We’ll see in the next two weeks if we will compete in the Formula Renault Eurocup in 2018.”

Oscar Piastri (Arden Motorsport) – 2nd in British F4 – 7th in 1’42’’434s : “I really like the Formula Renault, which is a totally different car compared to the F4 car. It has more power and a bit more downforce so I’m not going to complain about that ! The braking and downforce are the biggest challenges. Brake efficiency is a lot better, but the technique is a lot different. You have to have confidence in the car as you carry much more speed into the corners ! While nothing is confirmed, there is a very strong possibility I will do the Eurocup next year.”

Victor Martins (R-ace GP) – French F4 Junior Champion – 10th in 1:42.522s : “It was a pleasure to be invited here today by Renault Sport and I want to thank everyone. Compared to the F4, the power of the engine and the tyre grip are the big difference as are the aerodynamics that makes it a lot of fun to drive in the corners. I hope to have the chance to compete in this championship next year.”

Christian Lundgaard (MP Motorsport) – Champion SMP F4 NEZ and leader in Spanish F4 – 13th in 1:42.680s : “It’s always quite challenging to drive a new car. This year was my first year in single-seaters, which was quite challenging. It was interesting to learn how the Formula Renault works. It is quite different from the F4 and it was easier than I thought it would be even though it was hard to be quick. Despite my double programme in F4, this car feels better on track. We have a lot of test days scheduled, so we will continue this learning process because I think the Eurocup is the goal for 2018.”

Felipe Drugovich (Arden Motorsport) – 3rd in the ADAC Formel 4 – 14th in 1:42.787s : “My first tests in Formula Renault went well. With no prior experience with this car, we had to get to know it. The brakes are the most interesting aspect, which are very efficient. It also has seven speeds, thus one more gear to shift up or down. The Formula Renault Eurocup is an option for next year.”

Arthur Rougier (Fortec Motorsports) – French F4 Champion – 18th in 1:43.072s : “This was my first day in Formula Renault. This morning, I had good pace and was leading with the used tyres. Adapting to fresh rubber was a little complicated and I think that this aspect is the biggest thing to learn compared to French F4 where we had just one set of tyres to manage per weekend. Here, you have to really get the most from your potential. My goal is to race in the Formula Renault Eurocup next year.”

Pierre-Alexandre Jean (JD Motorsport) – 4th in French F4 – 20th in 1:43.128s : “Even though I am still in the learning and set-up phase with this car, I am rather satisfied with how my day went. The brakes, aerodynamics, the cornering speeds, the acceleration…Absolutely all the aspects represent a big step forward compared to F4. It is a real pleasure to drive a Formula Renault. We are taking a serious look at doing this next year.”

Jamie Caroline (Tech 1 Racing) – British F4 Champion – 27th in 1:43.516s : “This was my first Formula Renault test, as well as my first time on this circuit. The car is a lot of fun to drive, but you have to adapt to this car, which is very different and a lot faster than what I have driven before. There were no problems in the corners, but the brake pedal is much more softer and the brakes are much better. I gradually became more confident. I also liked the track, so I want to sincerely thank Renault Sport for the invitation. We could be back next year !”

Jüri Vips (Josef Kaufmann Racing) – ADAC Formel 4 Champion – 29th in 1:43.834s : “This first day behind the wheel of a Formula Renault was rather interesting. I struggled a little to find a good driving position, but it is a fun and great car in an excellent category. The brakes are the hardest aspect to get used to as they are different to those of the F4. The steering is also very light, that allows for sliding the car more. It was a super experience offered by Renault Sport and I am grateful.”

Frederik Vesti (Fortec Motorsports) – 2nd in Danish F4 and 7th in ADAC Formel 4 – 30th in 1:43.946s : “I really enjoyed my first outing in Formula Renault. It is a really good car. It is a bit similar to the car used in German F4, but I like the fat it is more powerful and has more downforce. The tyres are also a big step forward. We only have two laps to set a time compared to five. I hope to be able to join this competitive championship next year.”

Charles Leong (Mark Burdett Motorsport) – Chinese F4 and Asian Formula Renault Champion – 31st in 1:44.098s : “The Formula Renault is a proper race car, with which you can reach very high top speeds. It is an excellent car, but this track was hard to learn because of the traffic. We will see how it goes this winter, but I hope to be able to be in the Eurocup next year !”

Christian Rasmussen (Mark Burdett Motorsport) – 3rd in Danish F4 – 32nd in 1:44.128s : “Today I discovered both the Formula Renault and the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya ! It went well, except for my last run that wasn’t very good in large part due to the traffic. Coming from F4, I really had a good time thanks to the aerodynamics and the power that can really be felt in the corners. I think it is a good step after F4 and I clearly want to race in the Eurocup next season.”

Daniel Lu (AVF by Adrían Vallés) – Winner of the Road To Champion in Asian Formula Renault – 33rd in 1:44.229s : “Although I have some experience with the Formula Renault, everything is different in Asia : the track surface and temperatures… After getting installed in the car this morning, I made clear progress in the afternoon in picking up tenths of a second here and there. The tyres also allowed for improving the times even when they had a few laps on them. In looking at my pace today, I am thinking of joining the Eurocup or the NEC in 2018.”

Florian Venturi (AVF by Adrián Vallés) – 3rd in the French F4 Championship – 36rd in 1:45.284s : “This was an enriching first day in the Formula Renault. I think I could’ve done better, but I was up against drivers with a lot more experience than me. The power is what sets it apart from an F4, but there is also more aerodynamic downforce and the tyres have a little more grip. It is a car I really like. It is still too early to know if I will do it next year, but all track time is good to get !”

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