Panciatici already on top Pre-season testing for the 2007 World Series by Renault got underway in Barcelona on Monday, as the Eurocup drivers took to the track for two days of testing in their new-look Formula Renault 2.0 cars. On both days, it...
Panciatici already on top
Pre-season testing for the 2007 World Series by Renault got underway in Barcelona on Monday, as the Eurocup drivers took to the track for two days of testing in their new-look Formula Renault 2.0 cars. On both days, it was Nelson Panciatici (SG Formula) who came out on top.
While the tried and tested format of Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 remains unchanged, the car itself, the biggest-selling single-seater in the world, has been given a makeover, with a new body emulating the lines of its "big sister", the Formula Renault 3.5. Drivers have found the car easier to handle on quick bends, thanks in particular to its front spoiler, which provides greater stability and helps to combat understeering.
On Monday, there was little to choose between the leaders, with just seven tenths of a second separating the first-placed driver from the eighteenth! Nelson Panciatici (SG Formula) lived up to his billing as favourite, clocking the best time in 1'44''882. This year's times cannot be compared with those from 2006, however, as the circuit has been modified, with a chicane added on the bend before the start-finish straight. The Spaniard Roberto Merhi (Jenzer Motorsport), who is only starting out in motorsport this season, surprised many by recording the second-fastest time. He was followed by Oliver Oakes (Motopark Academy), former Formula BMW driver Fabio Onidi (Motorsport Arena), and Mihai Marinescu (District Racing).
The teams continued their pre-season preparations on Tuesday, when the favourites waited until the last half hour to put on their last set of fresh tyres. Once again, it was Nelson Panciatici who came out on top, shaving eight tenths of a second off his time from the previous day. "The conditions were perfect," said the Frenchman. "Temperature-wise, the conditions were pretty close to those we'll be driving in this season. We were able to try out a few different setups and we learned a lot. People are saying that I'm the favourite, but I still have to prove it, and that means winning the first race!"
'Pancia' was 0.0219 of a second faster than his teammate Charles Pic, a newcomer to the category who finished third in the French Formula Campus in 2006. "I'm happy with my performances, especially given that I hadn't driven on this circuit before," said Pic. "I had a bit of trouble with my second flying lap this evening, so I think I could probably have done better." The third fastest time went to Jaime Alguersuari (Red Bull Epsilon), who was pleased with his day's work: "This is a good result. We worked well with my new engineer and I think this has brought about a real breakthrough in the way I approach things."
In fourth was Roumain Mihai Marinescu (District Racing), who is enthusiastic about the prospect of his first season in the Eurocup: "It's a very exciting championship, and there seems to be a good atmosphere about it. I'm really looking forward to the first races. I've got high hopes for this season."
Henki Waldschmidt (Prema Powerteam) completed the top five: "I am pleased with my performance. The fact that we haven't got an unlimited stock of tyres meant that to clock a decent time we had to pick the right moment for our tyre changes. We'll see how things develop, but this was a good start!"
The Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 drivers will meet again on March 21st and 22nd at the Nurburgring for two more days of collective testing.