EU 2.0: Series Spa-Francorchamps preview

Time to put the theory into practice The Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 season is upon us and, just as in previous years, the category looks wide open. Four drivers have stood out in the various test sessions held to date: Daniel Ricciardo (SG ...

Time to put the theory into practice

The Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 season is upon us and, just as in previous years, the category looks wide open. Four drivers have stood out in the various test sessions held to date: Daniel Ricciardo (SG Formula), Andrea Caldarelli (SG Formula), Roberto Mehri (Epsilon Euskadi) and Valtteri Bottas (Motopark Academy). Now it's time to turn that form into race-day performances, which is often easier said than done.

The Spa-Francorchamps circuit is the dream venue for a season opener. Its 7km of track present drivers with just about every challenge possible, including the unparalleled Eau Rouge corner. What better setting, then, in which to put the young generation of Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 drivers to the test? And even though two days' testing were held here during the winter, most members of the 2008 driver line-up have never raced at Spa-Francorchamps before.

Both in collective testing and in the Formula Renault 2.0 West European Cup and North European Cup races held so far, the same drivers have consistently stood out. Daniel Ricciardo won the first round of Formula Renault 2.0 WEC at Nogaro at the end of March. In the second race, it was Andrea Caldarelli who came out on top, taking the lead in the WEC standings in the process. Roberto Mehri, meanwhile, made a strong impression in both races, finishing just behind the leaders. Ricciardo, Caldarelli and Mehri - an Australian, an Italian and a Spaniard - are all aged between 17 and 18, and each of them looks set to be a potent force in the competition this season. They are all aware of the importance of making a good impression in the opening race.

Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas is another driver who has got in some good preparation for the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 season. Not only was the Motopark Academy driver consistently among the leaders during winter testing; he also made his mark at the first meeting of the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC season, winning the first two races at Hockenheim. Now in his second season in the category with Motopark Academy, the Finn would dearly love to emulate his fellow countryman Kimi Raikkonen, who learnt his trade in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0.

The list of possible winners does not end there. With 48 cars in the mix, there are plenty of drivers out there with the potential to win races. Albert Costa (Epsilon Euskadi), Jean-Eric Vergne (SG Drivers Project), Tobias Hegewald (Motopark Academy), Adrian Quaife-Hobbe (BVM Minardi Team), Tristan Vautier (Epsilon Sport) and Mathieu Arzeno (Epsilon Sport) have all shown evidence in collective testing that they will be forces to be reckoned with.

The qualifying sessions take on a new format this year. The drivers will be split into two separate qualifying groups, each group completing a 30-minute qualifying session. The twelve fastest drivers from each group will qualify for a 20-minute SuperPole session, which will determine the starting grids for the weekend's races. The grid for the first race will be based on each driver's best time, and that for race 2 on their second-fastest time.

So as much of Europe prepares to put its feet up for a long and restful weekend, the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 competitors will not be among those taking it easy. On the contrary, they will all be ready and raring to go!

-credit: wsbyrenault.com

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Series Formula Renault
Drivers Kimi Raikkonen , Tobias Hegewald , Daniel Ricciardo , Albert Costa , Mathieu Arzeno , Andrea Caldarelli , Tristan Vautier , Valtteri Bottas , Jean-Eric Vergne , Adrian Quaife