EU: Series Silverstone test summary

Sainz heads the Silverstone timesheets. Munich. After two days of testing at a chilly Silverstone circuit on Tuesday and Wednesday Formula BMW Europe Junior driver, Carlos Sainz (ES/Eurointernational), was not only the fastest Rookie, but also...

Sainz heads the Silverstone timesheets.

Munich. After two days of testing at a chilly Silverstone circuit on Tuesday and Wednesday Formula BMW Europe Junior driver, Carlos Sainz (ES/Eurointernational), was not only the fastest Rookie, but also set the fastest time overall. Second quickest was 2009 Rookie Cup winner, Robin Frijns (NL/Josef Kaufmann Racing), with Sweden's Timmy Hansen (Mucke Motorsport) third.

It was the third official pre-season test and was held in typical UK April weather with a biting wind and the odd rain shower on day two. This is the second time the 15-year-old from Madrid has been quickest Rookie, and his comment after completing a total of 125 laps over the two days was: "I didn't know the track at all so everything was new for me, but if you want to be at the top you have to be able to reach the limit of the car very quickly. I seem to have done this, so this is a very good signal, but I still have a lot to learn." Ahead of the official launch due to take place on the 29th April, the Formula BMW Europe youngsters were lucky enough to be the first drivers to sample the new Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit. The circuit is now 5.9 kilometres (3.66 miles) long and features a changed section from Abbey towards the inside of Becketts before rejoining the circuit on the National Straight. The drivers were very impressed with the track and can't wait to get back here for the British Grand Prix weekend in July to race on it. It was quite fitting that the first driver out on the track was a Brit, with Jack Harvey taking his Fortec Motorsports car out a few minutes after the lights went green at 09.00 on Tuesday.

Since the last test a new driver has signed up for the series. Mackenzie Taylor (GB) was able to celebrate his 17th birthday on Wednesday on the track. The British Rookie driver will race with Mucke Motorsport. Christof von Grunigen was again driving for Fortec Motorsports at this test, and at the end of the two days signed with the team to compete in the 2010 series.

Following the test in Barcelona a couple of weeks ago, Hannes von Asseldonk (NL), Fahmi Ilyas (MY), Daniil Kvyat (FI), Michael Lewis (US) and Sainz went to Malaysia to take part as guest drivers in the first rounds of Formula BMW Pacific. Most successful was Sainz who not only qualified on the front row of the grid for his first ever single seater race, but went on to finish second and fourth in the two races. He was delighted to have the experience behind him to get to know the car, even though he only arrived back from Malaysia ten hours before being on the track at Silverstone. Ilyas also claimed a podium finish in race one, while Rookie driver, Kvyat, was fifth in race two. All the drivers acquitted themselves well and gained some useful experience before the start of their European racing season.

The next test for all the Formula BMW Europe competitors will be on the 20th/21st April in Zandvoort. Unfortunately the two day test scheduled for the 12th/13th April at Spa-Francorchamps has had to be cancelled after part of the tunnel at Blanchimont collapsed. At the moment it looks highly unlikely that a new date can be found for the Belgian track. However, the tests on 25th/26th May in Budapest and 1st/2nd June in Hockenheim will still take place.

Team Focus

The Silverstone test was home territory for Fortec Motorsports that has been a regular in Formula BMW since the first Formula BMW UK series in 2004. This year the team has Jack Harvey (GB) George Katsinis (GR) and Christof Von Grunigen (CH) driving its cars. The team is owned by Richard Dutton, who formed it in 1996, but the Formula BMW Europe team is managed by Russell Dixon. Over the past decade the team has contested and won races and championships in Formula 3000, Formula Renault and Formula 3. The list of drivers that have passed through the doors at its base in Daventy, just a few miles up the road from Silverstone, includes Heikki Kovalainen, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ricardo Rosset, Jimmy Bruni, Mike Conway, James Rossiter, Jamie Green, Katherine Legge, Danny Watts and Sam Bird.2010 will be another busy year for the team as it continues to compete in World Series by Renault and British Formula 3.

After the two days at Silverstone the typically cagey Dixon didn't want to give anything away, but did admit that Harvey, who was with them last year, and Katsinis, who was with another team, had two different styles that complimented each other. Also, while von Grunigen only did one Formula BMW Europe event last year, he is an experienced driver so they did have a strong team. Talking about the `new' Silverstone circuit he said: "It was a new challenge, especially as the new section seems to have lower grip and various bits of the old track seem to have changed in terms of the kerbs and also the landmarks." It goes without saying the team wants to win in Europe and Dixon added: "We have been successful in the UK and we want to do the same in Europe. It is a whole new level of competition against some very experienced teams. It is a challenge but we like that."

The team's successes in Formula BMW speak for themselves. In 2006 Niall Breen won the drivers' title and Henry Arundel the Rookie Cup. A year later Marcus Ericsson won not only the Rookie Cup, but also the overall title. Add to these three Team Trophy wins and a runner-up spot for Sam Bird and the team has an impressive cv in the formula.

-source: fbmw eu

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About this article
Series Formula BMW
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Mücke Motorsport