Sten Pentus right on track The final day of collective testing at Motorland Aragon saw all Formula Renault 3.5 Series teams devote themselves 100% to testing in the new light aero configuration. Sten Pentus (Fortec Motorsport) proved to be a ...
Sten Pentus right on track
The final day of collective testing at Motorland Aragon saw all Formula Renault 3.5 Series teams devote themselves 100% to testing in the new light aero configuration. Sten Pentus (Fortec Motorsport) proved to be a master of the exercise and grabbed the best time in each session. The Estonian finished ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne (SG Formula) and Brendon Hartley (Tech 1 Racing) on aggregate over the two days.
For the last day of collective testing before the new season kicks off, all the teams had to take to the track with the new light aerodynamic configuration. That's because on each Saturday of this season (except at Monaco), the cars will have to use the specification. All competitors must use a smaller rear wing, with a maximum permissible steering lock angle. Skirts will also be outlawed.
Drivers spent the first hour getting their bearings and gauging the behaviour of their cars. Some teams had already done some testing this winter with the light configuration, but this was the first time everyone had run the setup at the same time.
After a tentative first hour, Jean-Eric Vergne got into action with new tires. The SG Formula driver took advantage of the perfect track conditions and a favourable wind in the straight to pull off an exceptional 1'42''919. In so doing, he quite simply beat the Formula Renault 3.5 Series track record, then beat it again with a time of 1'42''908. Nathanael Berthon (International Draco Racing) promptly followed suit: new tires, new lap record. With a lap clocked in a time of 1'42''893, he took over the top spot.
Rankings shifted again at the end of the morning, and the big surprise came in the final minutes with Sten Pentus' performance. The Estonian driver lapped in 1'42''780 then went still quicker in 1'42''390. He ended the morning at the top of the timing screens above Nathanael Berthon, Jean-Eric Vergne and Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin).
In the afternoon, the drivers put together series of laps to gather data on the new aero definition under race conditions. At the outset, Stefano Coletti (Comtec Racing) showed some good turns of pace and took the lead ahead of Nelson Panciatici (Junior Lotus Racing) and Greg Mansell (Comtec Racing). Then it was the turn of Brendon Hartley and Walter Grubmuller (P1 Motorsport) to show they mean't business. Meanwhile Filip Salaquarda (ISR) was biding his time.
He donned new tires with half an hour remaining, and made his bid, claiming the leadership in 1'42''930, only to see Brendon Hartley go faster in 1'42''777, moments before Julian Leal (International Draco Racing) created a red flag incident. The last quarter of an hour was to see more changes in the hierarchy. But like in the morning, it was Sten Pentus who got the better of his rivals, lapping in 1'42''560 lap. He was followed by Jean-Eric Vergne and Brendon Hartley, the latter man spinning off at his last attempt. Now for the real racing action.
We'll be back here at Motorland Aragon in just three weeks time, to find out what the pecking order will look like as the season really gets underway.
Sten Pentus: "We did a lot of work on the light aero setup this winter and yesterday. Maybe that's why we got the better of the others today. Whatever the reason, it gives me a big hopes going into the first race. We need to work and work; this kind of result is a real motivator."
Brendon Hartley: "We've made quite a few changes to the car since yesterday and we've made a lot of progress. This has been a good day for me, a great way to set us up for the season. On a track like this, the light aero setup is effective, because there's plenty of grip on the circuit. But it won't be like this everywhere."
Nathanael Berthon: "Over a lap, the light aerodynamic configuration can actually be very quick, especially today with this favourable wind. But the car slides more. That's going to be difficult over a full race; we'll have to be very careful to avoid errors, particularly with the quicker tire wear."