Just as he did on Wednesday and Thursday, Raffaele Marciello (Arden Caterham) snatched the fastest time in Friday’s two sessions of Formula Renault 3.5 Series collective testing at Motorland Aragon. The Italian’s best lap of 1:39.815 gave him the day’s honours, with Marlon Stockinger (Lotus) just a thousandth of a second behind him, followed by Oliver Rowland (Fortec Motorsports).
The season’s final day of collective testing brought with it plenty of personnel changes. After spending two days with Strakka Racing, Raffaele Marciello linked up with Arden Caterham, while Will Buller switched from AV Formula to Tech 1 Racing, where he sat in for Jordan Oon, who jumped over to Zeta Corse.
Jazeman Jaafar made the move from ISR to Lotus to replace Kimiya Sato, who teamed up with Pons Racing. Sergey Sirotkin was back behind the wheel for ISR, while Norman Nato was reunited with DAMS and Will Stevens with Strakka Racing. Last but not least, Meindert van Buuren took over from Luca Ghiotto at International Draco Racing.
The drivers wasted little time in taking to the track in the morning, with several names appearing atop the timesheets in the opening hour before Raffaele Marciello set the pace once more. With 45 minutes remaining before the chequered flag, the Italian relinquished top spot to Oliver Rowland (Fortec Motorsports), who by this time was on new tyres.
Filipino racer Marlon Stockinger (Lotus) then went fastest half an hour later and would stay out front for the rest of a session cut short by an off-track excursion for Nikolay Martsenko (AV Formula). Completing the top five behind the Lotus F1 Junior Team driver were Oliver Rowland, Will Stevens, Raffaele Marciello and Pietro Fantin (International Draco Racing).
It was a full 40 minutes before the cars emerged in the afternoon. Dean Stoneman (Carlin) registered the first meaningful time before being eclipsed by Raffaele Marciello, Will Stevens, Carlos Sainz Jr (DAMS) and then Nick Yelloly (Carlin). There were only a few minutes left on the clock when Carlos Sainz Jr became the first driver to dip under 1:40.
On his final run, however, Marciello picked up the pace to clock 1:39.815, the day’s quickest time. Sainz, Sirotkin, Stevens and Stockinger were next fastest behind the Italian, with 16 drivers finishing within a second of each other.
The Formula Renault 3.5 Series will make its return on 25 February next year, when it will head back to Motorland Aragon for three days of collective testing.
Marco Sorensen: “It’s good to be back on the track. This session will definitely come in handy in preparing for next season. It feels very strange to be working with a different outfit. I get the feeling that we’re heading in the right direction. Nothing’s been decided for 2014 and I’ll need to keep on working. I’ll be making a decision later on.”
Oliver Rowland: “Everything went perfectly. I think we could have come away with the best time if we’d managed to bolt the new tyres on at the end of the morning. We’ve made a lot of progress in these tests, and I’ve learned so much with every lap. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens in 2014.”
Carlos Sainz Jr: “I’m very happy with how testing went. The main objective was just to focus on our job and we managed to get into the groove right from the start. It all looks promising and I’m very pleased.”