After setting the pace at the Barcelona rookie tests, Neil Verhagen (Tech 1 Racing) did it again with the fastest lap on day one of the Formula Renault Eurocup winter collective tests. At Circuit Paul Ricard, which will host the opening round next season, the American led from rookie Victor Martins (R-ace GP) and Richard Verschoor (Josef Kaufmann Racing) with a lap of 2:03.365s. Charles Milesi (R-ace GP) set best time in the morning.
The first of the two-day collective tests organised by Renault Sport Racing offered an opportunity to the 26 drivers on hand to put in six and a half hours of track time in order to evaluate their commitment or fine-tune their preparation for 2018.
Milesi in the morning, Verhagen in the afternoon
In the morning, Max Fewtrell (R-ace GP) quickly went to the top of the order before being dislodged by Richard Verschoor, Alexander Vartanyan (Arden Motorsport) and Neil Verhagen. The pace picked up in the final hour under the leadership of Charles Milesi with a lap of 2:03.974s to lead the way ahead of Richard Verschoor and Yifei Ye (Josef Kaufmann Racing). Max Fewtrell and Logan Sargeant (R-ace GP) completed the top five.
While the temperature continued to rise in the afternoon, it wasn’t until the third hour that Renault Sport Academy driver Christian Lundgaard (MP Motorsport) lowered the morning benchmark time. In the final 20 minutes, Richard Verschoor went quickest before long-time leader in the session, Neil Verhagen answered. With a lap of 2:03.365s, the American edged Victor Martins by 0.021s. Richard Verschoor, Max Fewtrell and Charles Milesi followed on the time sheet.
Neil Verhagen wants to prove himself
"I feel really good at Tech 1 Racing ! I had a lot to learn during my first year in the Formula Renault Eurocup, but now I am ready to use that experience to show what I can do in my second season. MP Motorsport is a great team, but Tech 1 Racing has a bit more experience and I feel that it allows me to work even better and to make good progress. Let’s carry on !”
Victor Martins is still learning
“These tests at Circuit Paul Ricard are my third in the Formula Renault Eurocup this winter. For the moment, everything is going very well. I am working on my weaknesses and I am learning so much with the team and I am continuing my preparation in order to be as fast as possible next year. Up until now, I think I have made real progress in getting the most from the grip, aerodynamics and the brakes. I am also gaining confidence behind the wheel, which is an essential element to do the best you can.”
Richard Verschoor doesn’t look at the times
“It was a good day, but unfortunately we went out a bit too early to take advantage of the track improvements. I also set a purple sector in my in-lap. Obviously, that wasn’t ideal ! Nonetheless, this is just testing and it doesn’t mean much to be at the top of the time sheet. I preferred to focus on the feeling and a lot of drivers used at least two sets of new tyres per session while we just took one new set per session. I am also discovering another environment with Josef Kaufmann Racing. Compared to last year, I think I have made a lot of progress and I am now a lot more comfortable with the car. We will see how it goes tomorrow.”
Jordan Cane prepares for 2018
“The preparations for next season are going rather well, but the learning curve is quite steep against the second-year guys and I only have my team mates as a reference ! As Circuit Paul Ricard is new to me, the goal is to prepare as best I can for the start of the season that will take place at this track. Compared to the BRDC F3, the Formula Renault has a bit less downforce, but the Michelins have a much higher performance level early on. This is a change for me from the hard rubber I used just until now, but it is a good aspect for all the drivers aiming to move up the ladder towards F1. To me the Eurocup seems to be the logical progression when looking at the level of the car and the budget. This category receives enormous support from Renault and the drivers can get noticed even if they are not with a leading team. So, it was a no-brainer for 2018 ! "