Carlin moves into position
Mikhail Aleshin and Sebastian Vettel set the two fastest times in collective testing today at the Nurburgring. Both Carlin Motorsport drivers look full of confidence for the weekend ahead, but everything remains tight at the top.
Two drivers made their Formula Renault 3.5 debuts today. At Red Devil Comtec, Michael Herck has replaced Jaap van Lagen for the rest of the season. Meanwhile at Fortec Motorsport, Yelmer Buurman will be standing in this weekend for Richard Philippe, who has not fully recovered from a broken wrist.
Since the teams had already spent two days testing at this track at the end of March this year, testing was limited to two 45-minute sessions today. Back in March, it was Alvaro Barba (Draco Racing) who set the fastest time in 1'44''145.
Very early on this morning, some drivers opted to use their new tyres right from the outset in an attempt to recreate conditions similar to those experienced in qualifying. After only quarter of an hour, Sebastian Vettel set the time to beat in 1'45''579. But it only took Milos Pavlovic (Draco Racing) a few minutes to go one better, shading it by just 2/1000ths! Alvaro Barba then confirmed just how tight the competition was by putting in a lap only 3/1000ths slower than his teammate's time.
Then, as the session drew to a close, Salvador Duran (Interwetten.com) had his say in the matter as he became the first driver to lap under the 1'45'' mark. With a lap in 1'44''932, the winner at Monza thus improved Vettel's time by 2/10ths.
This afternoon, it was Mikhail Aleshin who came to the fore as he so often seems to do in free practice. With a little over half the session gone, the Russian beat Duran's time. He then kept on pushing and improved his time twice more to set a fastest time of the day in 1'44''578: "I was having a few problems in the opening session, but things came good in the end. The car was going well and everything is running smoothly. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I think I'm in with a good chance of starting from pole tomorrow morning. That is, as long as the traffic doesn't get in my way."
If he had been able to put his three best splits together, Sebastian Vettel would have set a much faster lap. But the German seemed pretty satisfied with second place: "I only put in two runs this afternoon: the first on old tyres and the second on a fresh set. I made two mistakes on my fastest laps. So in view of that I have to be satisfied with this result."
The third fastest time went to Davide Valsecchi (Epsilon Euskadi) who, unlike his teammate Filipe Albuquerque, switched to a fresh set of tyres at the end of the session. Marco Bonanomi (RC Motorsport) showed that he is definitely up there with the leaders by setting the fourth fastest time: "We have got the set up right here as we did both at Monza and at Magny-Cours. Things are going as we want them to, but I'm just a little bit concerned about the weather conditions: the locals are saying that it could rain tomorrow morning".
Back in sixth behind Duran, Giedo van der Garde (Victory Engineering) was also sounding confident: "I didn't manage to get many laps in this morning because of an electrical problem. We tried out a lot of things on the car, but there is still significant understeer. If we can find a solution to the problem, I hope to be in with a shout to take a spot on one of the two front rows tomorrow morning."
In seventh ahead of the Championship leader Alvaro Parente, Guillaume Moreau was delighted with his progress: "Despite my lack of practice here, I put in the fastest split over the opening section. I was less fortunate in the other sectors, but I think we have the potential to compete with the rest."