FOURTH RENAULT LAP RECORD AND 120MPH AVERAGE AWAITS FOR NEW FR2.0 CAR Formula Renault UK with Michelin Championship drivers are set to break through the 120mph barrier at Thruxton this weekend, with this season's new bodywork helping to break...
FOURTH RENAULT LAP RECORD AND 120MPH AVERAGE AWAITS FOR NEW FR2.0 CAR
Formula Renault UK with Michelin Championship drivers are set to break through the 120mph barrier at Thruxton this weekend, with this season's new bodywork helping to break the lap record at every 2008 event so far. Pre-event testing saw CR Scuderia Formula Renault's Adam Christodoulou (Lichfield) set the fastest time of 1min 10.216s (120.79mph), which would establish a new lap record if repeated during a Championship race.
For 2008, Renault Sport Technologies has made subtle changes to the bodykit introduced in 2007, which brought the Formula Renault 2.0 car in line with its World Series by Renault FR3.5 and ING Renault F1 Team sister cars. Removing elements of the front wing and rear diffuser, combined with a reduction in the rear wing settings, has placed greater emphasis on driver ability.
The FR2.0 car is built by Italian manufacturer Tatuus and has been the single-make car used in the Formula Renault UK Championship since 2000. Comparing Thruxton race lap times sees Lewis Hamilton in 2003 with a time of 1min 12.282s (117.34mph) before an overhaul of the car's bodywork and engine. In 2004, champion Mike Conway posted a lap of 1min 09.751s (121.59mph), while 2007 champion Duncan Tappy, with the revised bodykit, set a mark of 1min 10.733s (119.90mph).
Emmanuel Esnault, Track Operations Manager at Renault Sport Technologies, explained: "During the 2007 season we observed in many Formula Renault 2.0 Championships that the gap between the very best drivers and those in midfield and below wasn't as large as we expected it to be. The cars were essentially too easy to drive to produce a fast lap time.
"We wanted to introduce more driver selectivity, shifting the balance back towards driver ability rather than engineer ability. We worked with Tatuus and tried several solutions at Nogaro circuit and this is the solution we decided would give more difficulty to the driver. The car still meets the highest safety standards, but is a little less stable."
Esnault also raised the benefit to competitors, adding: "It is a cost-effective solution for the teams because we are removing parts rather than introducing them, which was a major consideration for us. We'd like to have more data to see the full effects but it does appear to be making the cars quicker."
Formula Renault UK pre-race testing for Thruxton took place on 7th April with Adam Christodoulou topping the timesheets. He set new lap records at Brands Hatch Indy and Rockingham in the first two race meetings of 2008 and says drivers are noticing the changes made to the car.
Christodoulou commented: "It feels different through the quicker corners and the back end moves around much more, which actually suits my driving style. There's less drag in a straight line and wind direction seems to play a greater part this year.
"Thruxton is a difficult place for first year drivers because of the speeds involved. You need to have the confidence of knowing the car can handle it before you push to the edge and that only comes with experience. Going through Goodwood flat out will be key and if you lift off it actually unsettles the car, but it's definitely a great circuit if you get everything right."
Rounds seven and eight of the Formula Renault UK with Michelin Championship take place at Hampshire's Thruxton circuit on 17th/18th May.