After setting the pace on Friday, Robert Shwartzman (R-ace GP) kept the momentum going in taking the pole and winning race one in the Formula Renault Eurocup at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The Russian driver and member of the Ferrari Driver Academy was followed to the flag by Will Palmer (R-ace GP) and Gabriel Aubry (Tech 1 Racing). Red Bull Junior Team driver, Richard Verschoor (MP Motorsport) won for the first time in the rookie category where three drivers are still in the battle for the title. Tomorrow, Will Palmer will have to win both races to wrestle the title away from Sacha Fenestraz (Josef Kaufmann Racing), who will start ahead of him.
Pole record for Shwartzman
This morning, the start of the first qualifying session was animated by outsiders before Max Defourny (R-ace GP) took over and Sacha Fenestraz began the final sprint.
The leader in the general classification was then dislodged by Robert Shwartzman and Will Palmer. With a lap of 1:41.974, the Russian claimed his sixth pole position of the season in beating the track record set by Charles Leclerc in 2014.
The hat trick for Shwartzman
Robert Shwartzman held on to the lead at the start, with Gabriel Aubry slotted in between Will Palmer and Sacha Fenestraz, while Max Fewtrell ran fifth before retiring for the first time of the season with a puncture.
Robert Shwartzman maintained the lead on his way to his fifth victory of the season ahead of Will Palmer, Gabriel Aubry and Sacha Fenestraz. Starting tenth, rookie Richard Verschoor moved into fifth place when he overtook Max Defourny on the final lap of the race.
Neil Verhagen (MP Motorsport) finished seventh ahead of wild-card entries Logan Sargeant (R-ace GP) and Charles Milesi (R-ace GP). After the penalty to Raúl Guzmán (R-ace GP) following a collision and the disqualification of Thomas Randle (AVF by Adrián Vallés), who didn’t have the minimum fuel requirement at the finish, Alexander Vartanyan (JD Motorsport), Henrique Chaves (AVF by Adrián Vallés) and Yifei Ye (Josef Kaufmann Racing) scored the remaining points on offer.
Fenestraz equals a record
The day concluded with the final qualifying session of the year. Once again, Robert Shwartzman was quickest with a time of 1:43.524. Sunday morning, the Russian will start ahead of Sacha Fenestraz, Max Defourny, Gabriel Aubry and Richard Verschoor. Will Palmer will start down in eighth position behind Max Fewtrell, the best placed among the three drivers in the hunt for the rookie title.
Determined according to the two best times for each driver, the start grid for the final race of the year will have Sacha Fenestraz on pole for Sunday afternoon. Equalling the record of nine pole positions in one season held by Scott Speed since 2004, the Frenchman will set off ahead of Robert Shwartzman, Max Defourny, Will Palmer and Max Fewtrell.
Robert Shwartzman (R-ace GP): “There is nothing better than a victory to celebrate my arrival in the Ferrari Driver Academy! I feared it could affect my concentration, so I am really proud of this success. The car was incredibly good. I was even surprised in the race despite the tyre degradation. I want to thank the team for their excellent work and we will do everything we can to make it a hat trick this weekend!”
“There is nothing better than a victory to celebrate my arrival in the Ferrari Driver Academy ! I feared it could affect my concentration, so I am really proud of this success. The car was incredibly good. I was even surprised in the race despite the tyre degradation. I want to thank the team for their excellent work and we will do everything we can to make it a hat trick this weekend!”
Will Palmer (R-ace GP): “In my situation, it is difficult to say with confidence that I will win the title. Nevertheless, we had strong pace yesterday and that continued today. In Q1, I was close to Robert, but I manage to set the fastest lap. Afternoon qualifying was interesting. I hoped to take the two final pole positions, but it wasn’t to be.”
Gabriel Aubry (Tech 1 Racing): “I got an excellent start to catch up to Sacha. I had good pace early in the race, but the tyres suffered a lot when I was behind another car. I chose to manage the situation, because if I didn’t, the tyres would’ve been worn out in four laps! We were expecting better than third place because we need to win to move up the championship order. Only a win tomorrow will satisfy us!”
Richard Verschoor (MP Motorsport): “After having lost my first victory among the rookies at Monaco with a penalty, finally this time it’s the right one! The weekend began better than expected, but I could have done better in Q1. With my experience in F4, I knew that tyre degradation would be quite important on this circuit. I managed this and I had a good race pace so I could catch up to the leaders in the general classification and overtake Max.”
|1. Sacha Fenestraz (Josef Kaufmann Racing)||324.5|
|2. Will Palmer (R-ace GP)||278|
|3. Robert Shwartzman (R-ace GP)||242|
|4. Max Defourny (R-ace GP)||240|
|5. Gabriel Aubry (Tech 1 Racing)||224|