The Formula Renault Eurocup gets down to business at the future venue of the Dutch F1 Grand Prix 20 years after its last visit to Zandvoort. After three practice sessions disrupted by rain, the leader of the general classification Victor Martins (ART Grand Prix) sets the benchmark time of 1:31.202s to edge his title rival Caio Collet (R-ace GP) and defending champion Oscar Piastri (R-ace GP).
Thursday afternoon, the teams and drivers had two hours of track time to find their marks and setups for the Zandvoort circuit.
Intermittent showers and strong wind gusts made it that much more difficult for the drivers and teams. In these tricky conditions, Caio Collet put in a session-best lap of 1:31.405s to lead from Victor Martins and defending Formula Renault Eurocup title holder and current FIA Formula 3 champion, Oscar Piastri, who made a special trip to discover the track.
With better weather conditions Friday morning, Victor Martins and Caio Collet continued their duel. Following a red flag caused by the incident of Tijmen van der Helm (FA Racing), Paul Aron (ART Grand Prix) set the time to beat, but the two leading title contenders answered before the Estonian made a mistake bringing the session to a premature end. Victor Martins finished the session on top of the order ahead of Caio Collet, Grégoire Saucy (ART Grand Prix), Paul Aron and Amaury Cordeel (FA Racing).
After more showers at midday, the final session began on a drying track surface. Victor Martins put a time of 1:42.489s on the board to lead before the rain returned at the midway point of the session, which caught out both Hadrien David (MP Motorsport) and Roman Stanek (MP Motorsport). The times did not improve then and Victor Martins ended the day on top, followed by Caio Collet, 0.007s ahead of Oscar Piastri. Grégoire Saucy and Petr Ptáček (R-ace GP) completed the top five in the final collective tests session.
Tomorrow, the competitors will battle in the first qualifying session from 11h35. The first race of the weekend will start at 14h15.
Victor Martins (ART Grand Prix): "I really like this track I just discovered yesterday. The two bankings are a lot of fun, especially the one at turn three. The most important thing will be to manage the weather, both on the team’s side as well as mine. We will have to put everything together and maximise our potential tomorrow, especially in qualifying and the starts, because overtaking is going to be very difficult on this track!”
Caio Collet (R-ace GP): "It’s a nice circuit, both in the dry and in the rain. I think it is one of the best tracks on the calendar with the elevation changes and banked corners. It’s really nice to drive here. We are quick in all conditions, but so is Victor and we will have to maximise all our potential tomorrow with the weather forecast that looks extremely unpredictable and tricky!"
Oscar Piastri (R-ace GP): "I came to take part in the tests to discover and learn this track in case my future programme brings me there. It was my first time here and it’s a pretty cool and unique track with banked corners like I’ve never experienced before. It was worth coming, especially as I was able to run in all the different conditions!"
Paul Aron (ART Grand Prix): "Zandvoort was my favourite circuit last year and I even won there! The changes made since then, especially the banking, are pretty cool, but I prefer the old slippery and tricky track surface more. My pace in the first dry session was really good, but unfortunately, I finished in the wall when I could have finished in the top three. I tried to find a bit of time in the second-to-last corner, but it didn’t work! In the rain, we can still make some good progress tomorrow, so I am confident for the rest of the weekend."