2010 line-up takes shape
With a month to go before the first collective testing sessions in Barcelona, the grid for the Formula Renault 3.5 Series is filling up. Many of the teams and drivers are already connected to Formula 1, and this season looks like being as hotly contested as previous ones.
March 4 and 5 will see the thirteen teams that make up the Formula Renault 3.5 Series meet up in Barcelona for the first track outing of the season. From there, on to Jerez (March 13-14) then to Motorland Aragón (March 26-27), where the sixth edition of World Series by Renault is set to kick off for real (April 16-18).
Already, there is a long list of contenders hoping to follow in the footsteps of Bertrand Baguette, winner of the 2009 championship under the stewardship of team International Draco Racing. The championship winning team, led by Adriano and Nadia Morini, is betting on the future now with two young drivers. With a year's experience in the discipline already under his belt, 19-year old Colombian driver Julian Leal will pair with Formula Renault 2.0 2009 French champion, 20-year old Nathanael Berthon. Recently selected by the FFSA for its French team, the French driver made a good impression on his first time out behind the wheel of a Formula Renault 3.5, last November.
P1 Motorsport and Tech 1 Racing have also completed their driver line-ups. Two newcomers to the discipline join the ranks of P1 Motorsport. These are British F3 2009 runner-up, Austrian Walter Grubmuller who will be teaming up with Le Mans Series 2009 Champion, Jan Charouz. The Czech driver is a member of the brand new ''RF1 Driver Programme'' and has just been signed up as reserve driver with Renault F1 Team. He too will be starting out in the series with the highest ambitions.
Exactly the same goes for the Tech 1 Racing pair. With Daniel Ricciardo, the British F3 2009 champion and Brendon Hartley, both picked by the Red Bull F1 Team to take turns as F1 reserve driver, Simon Abadie and his men will have their sights set on one goal: to bring home Team and Driver titles.
The connections between Formula Renault 3.5 Series and Formula 1 are increasingly tight. As an illustration of this, team MoFaz Racing, dear to 2009 runner-up Fairuz Fauzy, now third driver with Lotus F1 Racing, becomes "Lotus F1 Racing Junior Team" and will be running the same livery as the F1 team. Albert Costa, winner of the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 in 2009, will also be a driver to watch closely. The 19-year old Spaniard stays with Epsilon Euskadi, the team that helped him break into the limelight in Formula Renault 2.0.
Greg Mansell moves to Comtec Racing for his second season in the discipline, which he will be racing in parallel with an endurance campaign, which he is set to take on with none other than... Mansell senior. Federico Leo is also racing his second season with Pons Racing. Carlin Motorsport, Fortec Motorsports, Interwetten.com Racing and SG Formula should be announcing their line-ups in the approach to the first testing sessions.
Meanwhile, newcomers ISR and KMP Group are preparing to compete for the first time in Formula Renault 3.5 Series. In the case of the Czech team, ISR, Filip Salaquardra has been confirmed for one of the seats, as has Russian driver Anton Nebilitkiy over at KMP Racing.