Monaco: Thursday free practice report

Winkelhock is a quick learner It was in bright, sunny conditions that the drivers in the World Series by Renault got their first taste of the Monaco circuit behind the wheel of their Formula Renault 3.5 cars. Markus Winkelhock (Draco ...

Winkelhock is a quick learner

It was in bright, sunny conditions that the drivers in the World Series by Renault got their first taste of the Monaco circuit behind the wheel of their Formula Renault 3.5 cars. Markus Winkelhock (Draco Multiracing USA) recorded the best time, ahead of Robert Kubica (Epsilon Euskadi) and Giorgio Mondini (Eurointernational).

To get from the paddock, situated near to Portier corner, to the Pit lane, the teams used Renault Master vans decorated in their team colours. These vehicles have been provided by Renault Sport.

Once the vans had driven past, it was time for the thirty Formula Renault 3.5 car to take over the Pit lane -- just after the Formula 1 free practice session! The two Jordan drivers, who were both involved in last year's World Series, took the time to meet up with old acquaintances. Tiago Monteiro gave some advice to Eric Salignon (Cram Competition), whilst Narain Karthikeyan had a closer look at the car of his fellow countryman, Karun Chandhok.

Second here last year in F3000, Enrico Toccacelo (Victory Engineering) took on the role of "old hand" at the Monaco track. He nonetheless approached this first session with caution: "You can never be sure of anything at Monaco. With thirty cars on the track, it is going to be difficult to manage the traffic. It will be easier tomorrow in qualifying, as we'll be separated into two series."

The Jenzer Motorsport drivers figured well at the start of today's session, with Colin Fleming and Patrick Pilet putting themselves at the top of the timing screens. Lap by lap, the favourites got involved in the scrap: Jaap Van Lagen and Tristan Gommendy (KTR) became the quickest on the track, in front of Robert Kubica -- who then wasted no time in setting the fastest time after the first fifteen minutes (1'33''162).

That was the moment that Markus Winkelhock chose to up the tempo. The German put in a series of quick laps, each one taking a second off his best time. Colin Fleming and Robert Kubica were still in the fight, but these three were outshone by Giorgio Mondini, who laid down the gauntlet with a lap of 1'29''012.

With just over thirty minutes gone, all the drivers had managed to keep their cars on the track by gradually increasing the power of their attacks! But then Patrick Pilet, at that point in possession of the second fastest time, crashed the rear of his car into the barrier at Beaurivage. The stewards immediately began to remove the car from the track, but Pastor Maldonado (DAMS), also in trouble, was unable to avoid hitting one of the stewards.

The appearance of the red flag brought the session to a halt, allowing emergency services to take the steward, suffering from a hip injury, off the track. The whole of the World Series paddock wishes him a very speedy recovery.

The session restarted for five minutes. As the chequered flag was about to be waved, Markus Winkelhock and Robert Kubica recorded the two best times, whereas Giorgio Mondini was unable to improve his time.

Now that this first session is over, competitors now have almost two days in which to closely analyse the data acquired in order to prepare the cars for the qualifying sessions, which will be held on Saturday evening starting at 6.10pm.

-renault-

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About this article
Series Formula V8 3.5
Drivers Narain Karthikeyan , Tiago Monteiro , Colin Fleming , Eric Salignon , Karun Chandhok , Tristan Gommendy , Robert Kubica , Markus Winkelhock , Pastor Maldonado , Giorgio Mondini , Patrick Pilet
Teams DAMS , Jenzer Motorsport