The native of Antibes posted best time ahead of Carlos Sainz, his team-mate and championship leader, and Jazeman Jaafar ahead of Saturday qualifying.
Norman Nato (DAMS) led the lone practice session at Monaco. The 21 drivers entered in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series get their chance to discover or rediscover the Monaco circuit. The native of Antibes posted best time ahead of Carlos Sainz (DAMS), his team-mate and championship leader, and Jazeman Jaafar (ISR) ahead of Saturday qualifying.
From 8h30, the Formula Renault 3.5 machines roared through the streets of Monaco. First in action on a weekend where the category will star as the curtain raiser for the Monaco Grand Prix, the drivers had 45-minutes to get the most out of the urban circuit in ideal conditions.
Fortec Motorsports’ Oliver Rowland and Sergey Sirotkin where first to leave the pits but were soon replaced at the top of the time sheet by William Buller (Arden Motorsport), Roberto Merhi (Zeta Corse) then Pietro Fantin (International Draco Racing). As the session continued, the drivers gained confidence and each lap was synonymous with improve performance.
When the session resumed, Beitske Visser (AVF) committed a minor error at Rascasse. Meanwhile, Norman Nato set a best time of 1:24.649. The session was stopped once again when the car of Andrea Roda (Comtec Racing) stopped. The session was re-started with less than three minutes remaining, in which no improvements were made.
Norman Nato led from Carlos Sainz and Jazeman Jaafar when the chequered flag was waved. Sergey Sirotkin and Pietro Fantin were next with Zoël Amberg, Oliver Rowland, William Buller, Marco Sørensen and Matthieu Vaxivière (Lotus) completing the top ten. Everyone will now wait until 9am on Saturday for the all-important qualifying session.
Norman Nato: ”The championship did not begin the way we had hoped for, but this weekend has gotten off to a good start. Nevertheless, I have to remain lucid. There is still the qualifying and the race, which is always the hardest part. I must continue to work, although this result is a moral boost and is good for the team.”
Carlos Sainz: ”I really like this track. I have some nice memories as I made my debut here last year. I have made a good start to the week-end, but the session was really short. No one was really able to push to the limits, so it is hard to know where everyone actually is. I am looking forward to the qualifying, with less traffic in the two groups.”
Jazeman Jaafar: ”Traffic was a big problem today. The resurfacing of the track has resulted in a very different grip level from compared to last year. Early in the session, I had under-steer, which often happens with a small amount of grip. In the end, we set third best time, which is good, but we needed more laps!”