Alguesuari perfectly at home
Second in the morning session, fastest in the afternoon, Carlin Motorsport's Jaime Alguesuari appeared very much at ease for his first season in Formula Renault 3.5 Series. The Catalan drivers were on form on their home track, as Jaime Alguesuari led another native of Barcelona, Ultimate Motorsport's Miguel Molina in both sessions. Brendon Hartley of Tech 1 Racing was also learning fast. On his first real outing in Formula Renault 3.5 Series, he set the third fastest lap of the day.
The list of drivers changed this week as New Zealander Brendon Hartley, winner of the 2007 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and placed third in the 2008 British F3 joined Tech 1 Racing for the first three meetings of the season. Interwetten.com Racing selected South African, Adrian Zaugg and Romanian Mikhail Marinescu, while Daniil Move will be driving for P1 Motorsport and Haralds Segelmilhs completes the Comtec Racing lineup. As part of the regulations, all drivers were obliged to start the day on fresh tyres.
It took a few minutes to see the first significant hierarchy develop. Adrian Valles of Epsilon Euskadi claimed the top of the timesheet straight away, before quickly being knocked from top-spot by Tech 1 Racing's Charles Pic, followed by Bertrand Baguette for International Draco Racing. Halfway through the session, Molina had taken control of the competition with a lap of 1'33"542, to lead Alguesuari, Baguette, Move and Pic. The traffic on the track was less dense as P1 Motorsport's James Walker took his chance to squeeze into third place between Alguesuari and Baguette. The positions would not change again during the busy session, and a crash for Prema Powerteam's Frankie Provenzano put paid to the morning session.
Despite a few spots of rain before the end of the session, the afternoon was off to a flying start, with a tussle between Molina, Oliver Turvey of Carlin Motorsport and Pic. The Frenchman gained the upper hand over Molina and Turvey, but in the end it was Baguette who set the best time, with a lap of 1'34"221, shortly before the session was interrupted by a crash for Mofaz Fortec Motorsport's Sten Pentus. In the second part of the session, the first significant improvements to the times were made by Chris Van der Drift, driving for Epsilon Euskadi, entering the top 5, and Interwetten.com's Adrian Zaugg, second. The session was stopped once again, this time when Marinescu left the track. At the restart, several drivers went out on new tyres for one last flying lap. Alguesuari topped the time sheet with a lap of 1'33"537. The Spaniard led Brendon Hartley, who had wasted no time in getting to grips with his car.
Jaime Alguersuari: "You can't place too much importance on fastest laps. What matters is being quick tomorrow in qualifying. The hardest thing is yet to come. I need to keep working like this. Mind you, it's encouraging to see that we're heading in the right direction."
Brendon Hartley: "I only found out that I'd be racing in Formula Renault 3.5 Series on Wednesday. I had a day of tryouts with the old car more than a year ago, so I had to learn everything about this car. I had tryouts for F1, but apart from FR 2.0 and F3, I don't have much experience. This morning I was quietly getting to grips with the car. We've worked hard with the Tech 1 Racing engineers and we tried to up the pace in the second session. Our aim is to find the right rhythm here to really prepare for Spa-Francorchamps."