Championship leader and Red Bull Junior Team driver, Carlos Sainz (DAMS) set the fastest lap of the day in 1:59.139
The Formula Renault 3.5 Series drivers with links to F1 led the way during the collective tests at Spa-Francorchamps. Championship leader and Red Bull Junior Team driver, Carlos Sainz (DAMS) set the fastest lap of the day in 1:59.139, ahead of Sauber F1 Team reserve driver Sergey Sirotkin (Fortec Motorsports). The Russian set quickest time in the morning session. After his podium result at Monaco, Lotus F1 Team protégé, Marco Sørensen was third on the time sheet.
Five days after the Monaco round, the competitors in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series put in their first laps on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Under cloudy skies, the opening minutes of the session were wide-open with several improvements made. Jazeman Jaafar (ISR) got the action started but was dislodged by Marlon Stockinger (Lotus) then by the members of the Red Bull Junior Team, Pierre Gasly (Arden Motorsport) and Carlos Sainz.
The Frenchman and defending Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 champion moved ahead of the Spaniard to take the top spot. It wasn’t until the chequered flag was shown to see that the order changed with Sergey Sirotkin setting best time of the morning at 2:01.777 to lead the way from Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz, Marlon Stockinger and Pietro Fantin (International Draco Racing).
In the afternoon, the sun came out and the drivers quickly improved the times. After six minutes, Sergey Sirotkin was the first to lower his own reference time, but just as quickly, Jazeman Jaafar, Roberto Merhi (Zeta Corse), Matias Laine (Strakka Racing) then Carlos Sainz all went faster. The Spaniard was the first to crack the two-minute barrier.
Four minutes before the end of the session, Richie Stanaway (Lotus) moved to the top spot but Carlos Sainz answered immediately. He then improved his best lap with a time of 1:59.139. The championship leader topped the time chart ahead of Sergey Sirotkin and Marco Sørensen. Pietro Fantin and Pierre Gasly completed the top five.
Carlos Sainz: “Spa-Francorchamps is a track I really like. We seem to be on pace. For me, the morning session doesn’t count because the track was damp and really slow. This afternoon however, we made the most of good conditions to test different things. We will now closely study the results in order to check that we are heading in the right direction.”
Sergey Sirotkin: “It feels good to be back among the leaders! Everything went well this morning, we were able to test different set-ups and one of them worked well in these drying conditions. Even my in lap was faster than my previous best lap! We improved more this afternoon despite a mistake. We are fast on used tyres, even more so on new rubber we will try to build on this positive day for a pole tomorrow.”
Marco Sørensen: “It is only practice and I’d prefer to wait for tomorrow’s qualifying before saying anything! We seem to be well placed, because I set the ninth best time this morning and was third this afternoon, but we still have some work to do although the base is good.”