Filip Salaquarda prepares 2010

At Motorland Aragon, Filip Salaquarda (RC Motorsport) finished the third day of collective testing in first place ahead of Jon Lancaster (Comtec Racing). Despite being completely new to Formula Renault 3.5, Jean-Eric Vergne (KMP Group / SG Formula) remains the best performer of this week of collective testing.

The start was delayed by thick fog that invaded the Motorland Aragon circuit early this morning. Visibility was not sufficient and the green flag didn't come out until 12:30. At that point the drivers set out one-by-one for a single marathon five-and-a-half hour test session. The day saw Brendon Hartley back on track, confirmed for next season in his seat with Tech 1 Racing for the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, with Daniel Ricciardo as team-mate. Ricciardo spent the day's testing with team KMP Group / SG Formula. Roberto Merhi tested in a Prema Powerteam car, Daniil Move took a seat with Comtec Racing and Albert Costa (Epsilon Euskadi) got out on track behind the wheel of a Formula Renault 3.5 Series for a maiden session.

Visibility conditions continued to be a handicap at the outset. Nelson Panciatici (Pons Racing) took advantage of the conditions to make an impact, although the first really significant lap times were a while coming. All the drivers took the opportunity to put together series of longs runs. As soon as he took to the track, Jean-Eric Vergne upped the pace, taking control of the session with a time of 1'44''170. Federico Leo (Pons Racing) and Filip Salaquarda (RC Motorsport) responded and moved back to the top.

After lapping in 1'43''426, the Czech driver spent a long period of the session on top of the timing charts, ahead of Jon Lancaster, back with Comtec Racing today, Federico Leo and Keisuke Kunimoto (Epsilon Euskadi). Meanwhile, not properly installed in his single-seater, Albert Costa languished in 21rd position in the standings. As the last hour of collective testing approached, a spate of pitting began as drivers donned new rubber. Nelson Panciatici was the first to go on a charge. He moved up to 7th place. Jean-Eric Vergne and Federico Leo followed suit and started their push for the best time. Leo improved his own lap time, but stayed third, while Vergne moved up into fourth position. When Jean-Eric Vergne took his turn to get back on track with a new set of tyres, he shot to the top of the standings. With a lap time of 1'43''186, he beat his own record set just the day before. Keisuke Kunimoto also went on a charge, grabbing the fourth fastest time, ten minutes from the end of the session.

The final attempts didn't change the pecking order. Jean-Eric Vergne finished this session in first place, ahead of Filip Salaquarda and Jon Lancaster. However, the Frenchmans' two best laps were cancelled out for overtaking under a yellow flag. So Filip Salaquarda inherited first, ahead of Jon Lancaster and Keisuke Kunimoto. Notwithstanding, Jean-Eric Vergne claims the best performance of the week, thanks to yesterday's laptime. Formula Renault 3.5 will be back on track next as of next Tuesday at the Barcelona circuit.

Quote, unquote:

Filip Salaquarda: "We reached a good level of performance today. I drove my fastest time at the beginning of the afternoon, and after that we worked on a race simulation. This is very positive for next year. We are building up a new team from RC Motorsport, so I'll be here again next season."

Albert Costa: "This was a day of discovery for me, so I didn't go all out for a big lap time - all the more so as I wasn't at all well installed in my car. We'll have to work on that for the next test session in Barcelona. I must concentrate on the final of the Formula Renault 2.0 WEC, to try to get a second title this season. Only then will I be able to concentrate 200% on 2010."

Jean-Eric Vergne: "I put in a good time in the early afternoon, with worn-in tyres while the track was at its most effective. That's when I should have fitted new tyres. At the end of the day I improved on my time, but it was cancelled when I overtook someone under the yellow flag. It's the management of Red Bull Junior Team who will decide on my programme for 2010. Maybe these three days of testing will be important in the balance."

-credit: wsr