EU 2.0: Spa-Francorchamps Friday practice report

Valtteri Bottas right up there! Consistently quick in all the pre-season collective tests, Valtteri Bottas (Motopark Academy) was easily fastest of the 48 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 drivers. The Finn finished ahead of Roberto Merhi ...

Valtteri Bottas right up there!

Consistently quick in all the pre-season collective tests, Valtteri Bottas (Motopark Academy) was easily fastest of the 48 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 drivers. The Finn finished ahead of Roberto Merhi (Epsilon Euskadi) and Jean-Eric Vergne (SG Driver Project).

Two 30-minute sessions of collective testing marked the start of the first meeting of the season. With 48 single-seaters, the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 grid is packed out this year!

The first session was interrupted twice by the red flag. Richard Singleton (Hi-Tech Junior team) led at the midway point of the session, in front of Albert Costa (Epsilon Euskadi) and Pal Varhaug (Jenzer Motorsport). In the second part of the session, Valtteri Bottas stepped up the pace, taking control with a time of 2'21''733. The Finn improved his time with each lap, completing his fastest in 2'20''884. The Italian, Michel Faccin (Jenzer Motorsport), bettered Bottas' time before another red flag put an end to the session. The Jenzer Motorsport driver therefore set the session's best time ahead of Valtteri Bottas, Mathieu Arzeno (Epsilon Sport), Andrea Caldarelli (SG Formula) and Adrian Quaif-Hobbs (BVM Minardi Team), all of whom improved their performance towards the end of the session.

From the start of the second session, everyone got straight down to business. Within a matter of minutes, the lead had changed hands several times. Valtteri Bottas gained the upper hand before Andrea Caldarelli turned in the best performance of 2'20''407.

Second-placed Michel Faccini confirmed his good form. Daniel Ricciardo (SG Formula) completed the top three.

After a quiet start, Roberto Merhi dislodged Ricciardo from the third row at the end of the session. This came as a warning to the other drivers: it was time to start pushing the pace. Valtteri Bottas seized the opportunity and moved to the top of the timesheet with 2'19''751. Merhi continued his assault, occupying the second row ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne.

Five minutes before the end of the session, the red flag broke everyone's momentum. The session did not restart, meaning Valtteri Bottas was fastest in front of Roberto Merhi, Jean-Eric Vergne, Andrea Caldarelli, Michel Faccin and Daniel Ricciardo.

So, Valtteri Bottas starts the season in the most fitting manner by setting the pace. "Everything's going well so far. The car is competitive. On worn tyres this morning, the times were good. On new tyres, the times were considerably better, even if it was difficult to get a clear lap."

The Spaniard Roberto Merhi was also up with the pace: "During the first session, we were interrupted by red flags. I didn't really get the chance to show off my skills. On new tyres, at the end of the session, it was better. The performance is there, but I really think that during qualifying, when we are separated into two groups, it will be easier to go out there and set quick times."

Jean-Eric Vergne, third overall, was top Rookie: "The track is fantastic. I'd never driven here before except in Collective Testing at the beginning of April. However, I've been round it a few times on my games console! My time was good but I wasn't consistent. We still have a lot of things to try in terms of set-up."

At the end of the afternoon, the drivers will be split into two groups for qualifying. The first twelve from each group will qualify for the SuperPole which takes place on Saturday morning.

-credit: wsbyrenault.com

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About this article
Series Formula Renault
Drivers Daniel Ricciardo , Albert Costa , Roberto Merhi , Andrea Caldarelli , Pal Varhaug , Valtteri Bottas , Jean-Eric Vergne
Teams Jenzer Motorsport