Raffaele Marciello (Strakka Racing) was once again a cut above the rest at Motorland Aragon on Thursday. Just as he had done the day before, the reigning FIA European F3 champion dominated both sessions of Formula Renault 3.5 Series collective testing, setting a new track record in the process. The flying Italian ended both the morning and afternoon ahead of Carlos Sainz (DAMS), while Oliver Rowland (Fortec Motorsports) was third-fastest on the day.

There were a few changes in the line-up for the second day of collective testing at the Spanish track, with several competitors from the 2013 season on duty. While Marlon Stockinger and Matias Laine chose to stick with Lotus and Strakka Racing respectively, others opted to change outfits, among them Marco Sorensen (Tech 1 Racing), Zoel Amberg (Arden Caterham), Jazeman Jaafar (ISR) and William Buller (AV Formula).

Raffaele Marciello
Raffaele Marciello

Photo by: XPB Images

First to show in the morning was Nikolay Martsenko (Zeta Corse). After being dislodged from the top of the timesheets by Nico Muller (SMP Racing by Comtec) and Raffaele Marciello, the Russian hit back, only for the Italian to regain first place almost immediately. With a third of the session gone, the Ferrari Driver Academy member raised the bar with a time of 1:39.995, one that would not be bettered. Completing the morning’s top five were Carlos Sainz Jr, Jazeman Jaafar, William Buller and Nico Muller.

Pierre Gasly (Arden Caterham) led the field following a keenly contested opening hour in the afternoon, with Sergey Sirotkin (Fortec Motorsports) then setting the pace. The second half of the session saw Raffaele Marciello move out front again, however, and though Carlos Sainz Jr briefly stole the limelight, the Italian had the last word when he bolted on new tyres in the final hour and posted a lap of 1:38.976, breaking the track record set by Stoffel Vandoorne last year. That left Carlos Sainz Jr second once again, followed by Oliver Rowland, Jazeman Jaafar and Nikolay Martsenko.

Raffaele Marciello: “These two days with Strakka Racing have gone really well. The car was good, easy to drive, we didn’t have any problems so it was quite easy to push it to the limit, and that’s what we did with the lap record. I’ll be driving for another team tomorrow. I’m going to see how it goes and see how they do things, though my approach will be the same.”

Pierre Gasly: “This was my first day with Arden Caterham and we spent the morning building our working relationship. I need to adjust to things, but we were out for the whole of the afternoon session and I posted the sixth-best time of the day. I’m gradually gaining in confidence, though there’s plenty of work to be done over the winter.”

Alex Lynn: “I’ve learned a lot over these two days, and DAMS is a really impressive team. The downforce of this car is really more impressive than the previous one, which I drove at the rookie tests in 2011. The Formula Renault 3.5 Series is surely an option we have to look at.”

Dean Stoneman: “After three years out, basically I’m pursuing my track time and trying to get my fitness back to scratch. I didn’t drive the old Formula Renault 3.5 much but this new-generation car has a lot more downforce. It’s fun car to drive but it’s a lot more physical. We’re still having a bit of a job getting the best out of the car but I hope to see the times coming down.”

WSR Series