Barba continues good form
Alvaro Barba (Draco Multiracing USA) followed up his excellent performance in testing in Barcelona with another fine display during the first day of collective tests here at the Nurburgring, clocking the best time of the day. The Spanish driver finished ahead of Sebastian Vettel (Carlin Motorsport), who was making his first outing of the season in the Formula Renault 3.5, and his teammate Milos Pavlovic.
Last week's heavy snowfall gave way to bright sunshine this morning, giving the Eifel mountains a more spring like appearance, although conditions remained rather cool. The World Series Formula Renault 3.5 teams are taking part today and tomorrow in the final collective test sessions before the championship kicks off in Monza (April 13-15).
After recording the best time in the last session in Barcelona, Alvaro Parente (Tech 1 Racing) carried on his rich vein of form in Germany. The Portuguese driver clocked the best time in the morning session: "Things are going very well with the team. We are making constant improvements to the car. We put on new tyres, but we weren't the only ones. This afternoon we are going to assess a new setup, so I don't think I'll be able to reproduce the same performance."
In the afternoon session, it was another Alvaro who came to the fore. Alvaro Barba, Draco's new recruit, completed a lap of 1'44''643 pretty early on in the session. "I am obviously pleased with today's performance. We improved throughout the day. This morning I drove with worn tyres and we put on a new set at the right time. We will try to keep improving tomorrow, particularly in qualifying conditions. I am confident about the start of the season", explained Alvaro.
In the closing half hour of the session, Sebastian Vettel helped himself to the second best time of the day, 2/10ths adrift of the leader: "I hadn't driven the car since December last year. Without traction control, obviously the Formula Renault 3.5 has a lot more oversteer than a F1 car and it is still just as enjoyable to drive. We didn't do a lot of work on the setup. The most important thing today was for me to get used to the car again. I tried out the 'push-to-pass' system. It's fun and I think it will give the races that something extra."
Fifth behind Milos Pavlovic and Giedo van der Garde (Victory Engineering), James Walker confirmed the steady improvement made by Fortec Motorsport, the latest team to joint the championship: "Obviously, it's not easy for two new drivers to get to grips with the championship in a new team, but we have been working well with Richard Philippe. We are continuing the work we started to do in Barcelona. I think we could have done a bit better today, but the result is still satisfying."
Demoralized in Barcelona, Jaap van Lagen didn't manage to complete very many laps today. But the spirits of the Red Devil Comtec driver were raised again: "I think we have finally found the source of the vibrations which have handicapped me since we returned to the track in Barcelona. The team changed the engine and then the entire rear axle. And now, finally, I have got a healthy car to drive again. The season starts for me tomorrow!"