Ten days after its official debut, the Formula Renault FR-19 can take pride of a new track record for the Formula Renault Eurocup! With a lap of 1:59.786s at Circuit Paul Ricard, Alexander Smolyar (R-ace GP) broke the now former benchmark time held by Yifei Ye by more than a second. The SMP Racing protégé was followed by team mate Oscar Piastri (R-ace GP) and rookie Ugo de Wilde (JD Motorsport).

Four sessions kicked off the programme this Friday at Castellet, which is the first track on the 2019 calendar to host the new Formula Renault FR-19s.

In the first session, Oscar Piastri was first to head the timing screen. After being bumped off the top spot by Ugo de Wilde, the Australian responded with a time of 2:00.904s to edge the Belgian by 0.03s.

Oscar Piastri then doubled up with a time of 2:00.013s against Victor Martin (MP Motorsport) and the two did it again in session three, with the Australian dominating again in 2:00.363s.

In the last ten minutes of the final session of the day saw Alexander Smolyar become the first driver to break the two-minute barrier. The Russian spoiled his team mate’s attempt to run the table, while Ugo de Wilde, Victor Martins and Sebastián Fernandez (Arden Motorsport) completed the top five.

Morning combined times - Afternoon combined times

Smolyar in the end

Alexander Smolyar (R-ace GP): “On this track, the new Formula Renault seems much faster than the former generation and I really wasn’t expecting to set such a quick time! The team has made a huge amount of progress since last week at Magny-Cours and we are three very close drivers in this period of learning and development of the car. The Hankook tyres give more time to prepare for a fast lap. Even though the peak of performance seems to be a little less higher than before, the degradation is a lot more controlled and that should be the key in qualifying and in race conditions throughout the season."

Lloveras makes the most of his experience

Xavier Lloveras (Global Racing Service): “As we were not at Magny-Cours, this is our first day with the new car and there is work to do! It was anything but easy, but we made progress step by step and we hope to make up for lost time as fast as we can. The objective is to be further up the order tomorrow. In any case, the car is a lot harder to drive than the former generation. Everything is different and it requires some time to adapt, but I am really looking forward to the start of the season!”

Lorandi and Benavides find their marks

Leonardo Lorandi (JD Motorsport): “It was a good day of learning. This car is very different to anything I have driven before. It took me a little time to understand it, but I made a lot of progress today. I had the opportunity to drive the former generation at the rookie tests in 2016, but I don’t remember very much. However, everything is better when compared to an F4. There is more adrenaline, more power and I’m having a lot more fun with the Formula Renault!”

Brad Benavides (FA Racing by Drivex): “It is a fun car to drive. I had already driven an old F3 and there is less aerodynamic downforce. This has made my learning process tougher, because there’s a different feeling due to the lower grip levels. I appreciate this challenge and my objective is to find my marks as soon as possible, but also learn and progress by working as hard as I can. Furthermore, being part of a team overseen by Fernando Alonso, a true motorsport icon, is a great source of inspiration and motivation!"