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Hockenheimring: Series Friday test notes

Hockenheim - Collective Testing Costa in good company with Ricciardo and Aleshin Tech 1 Racing's Daniel Ricciardo got back off to a good start in Formula Renault 3.5 Series at Hockenheim today when he claimed the fastest lap in collective...

Hockenheim - Collective Testing
Costa in good company with Ricciardo and Aleshin

Tech 1 Racing's Daniel Ricciardo got back off to a good start in Formula Renault 3.5 Series at Hockenheim today when he claimed the fastest lap in collective testing, the Australian leading Epsilon Euskadi's Albert Costa and Carlin's Mikhail Aleshin. The duel between Daniel Ricciardo and Mikhail Aleshin was as exciting as ever. However, following a summer break which appears to have been all work and no play, Albert Costa seems ready to take the pair on as the end of the season draws closer.

At a sunny Hockenheim, the 24 Formula Renault 3.5 engines rang out once more following a two-month break. As this is the first time that Formula Renault 3.5 Series has visited the German circuit, the first session was the chance for drivers and teams alike to find their feet. The day also marked the occasion of 2010 British F3 International Series champion Jean-Eric Vergne's move to Formula Renault 3.5 Series. Driving for Tech 1 Racing, the Frenchman has already had a taste of the FR3.5 car, having participated in pre-season testing last winter.

An early pecking order was established as Daniel Ricciardo set a time of 1'30"436, followed by International Draco Racing's Nathanel Berthon, and behind him Vergne. However, things would not remain this way for long as Comtec Racing's Stefano Coletti took control of the session with a 1'29"726 lap. Fortec Motorsport's Jon Lancaster soon followed suit before ISR's Esteban Guerrieri countered with a time of 1'29"312. The drivers soon found their rhythm, racking up several flying laps mirroring Jon Lancaster, one of the day's most tenacious drivers. It was only in the closing minutes of the session that the order began to crystallize. With a time of 1'29"090, ISR's Filip Salaquarde led the charge closely followed by Pons Racing's Federico Leo, who crept into third place behind the two ISR cars.

This seemed to be the signal to launch an all-out assault on the timesheet. With a lap of 1'29"006, Stefano Coletti took charge just as Albert Costa chose the same moment to squeeze in between Salaquarda and Guerrieri to snatch third. The situation would evolve constantly in the closing ten minutes with the last word going to Esteban Guerrieri. The Argentinean driver set the fastest lap of the first session in 1'28"337 to lead Ricciardo, Coletti, KMP Racing's Anton Nebilitskyi and Lancaster, who had chosen to drive in light aerodynamic setup.

In the second session it was Costa, followed by Ricciardo and then Guerrieri, who were the pace-makers before Coletti caused a red flag incident. It was only at the very end of the session that things would really start to open up. Lapping in 1'28"265, Berthon was the first to better the time set by Guerrieri during the morning session. However, it was not long before the Frenchman found that Costa and Ricciardo in turn had stolen his thunder.

With a lap time of 1'27"758, it was Daniel Ricciardo who turned in the best performance of the day trailed by Albert Costa and Mikhail Aleshin. It remained for Nathanael Berthon and Daniel Zampieri to make up the top 5.

Quote-Unquote:

Daniel Ricciardo : "It's a long time since I was in the top-three in both Collective Testing sessions; it's a great way to get back into the competition after a two-month break. We still have a few things to improve. Mikhail Aleshin is also in with a chance, so we have to keep up the pressure and not get caught napping!"

Albert Costa : "I'm currently fighting for my future! I need strong results through to the end of the season and it's going to be decisiver. I spent the summer working, playing sport and focusing on my goal. Second place here on a circuit I'd never driven before this morning shows that it's starting to pay off."

Mikhail Aleshin : "We've worked hard, and we were fast, both in light and normal aerodynamic configuration. We need to keep up our pace from the start of the season and stay focused on that, and that alone. We're under no major pressure, it's the competition who will be taking all the risks!"

-source: renault sport

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