Tech 1 keeps up the winning habit

The first of three days off-season testing was held here at the Paul Ricard HTTT in the sunshine of Provence. While some drivers have switched teams to check whether they can work together, some are already getting their preparations underway for the 2008 season. Having just taken the title, the Tech 1 Racing team has taken up where it left off, by putting Charles Pic in first position.

For the time being, only Pippa Mann is certain of being able to continue her career with Cram Competition, which will be renamed P1 Motorsport in 2008. The young English driver will be teaming up with Marcello Puglisi for her three days of testing. Bertrand Baguette and Johnny Cecotto will also be spending three days with Draco Racing and RC Motorsport.

The drivers opting for stability with two days testing with the same team are Charles Pic (Tech 1 Racing), Marco Barba (Draco Racing), Oliver Oakes (Red Devil Comtec), Alexandre Marsoin (KTR), Simeon Ivanov (Prema Powerteam), Dani Clos and Roberto Merhi (Epsilon Euskadi), Aleix Alcaraz (Pons Racing), Edoardo Piscopo and Craig Dolby (Fortec Motorsport).

There are others, however, who will be switching between teams. Daniil Move, for instance, will be testing with Red Devil Comtec, RC Motorsport and Tech 1 Racing. Similarly, Michael Herck will be putting in track time with both Pons Racing and Prema Powerteam.

The best time of the session was set by rookie Valtteri Bottas (Cram Competition), who put in a lap in 1'16''450. This time remained unbeaten right up until the end of the day. Carlo van Dam (Red Devil Comtec) did come close, but it was only the Tech 1 Racing's Charles Pic who proved capable of going faster than the flying Finn (1'16''156).

What they said...

Charles Pic (Tech 1 Racing): "I gradually went on the attack and I only put in my fastest lap once my tyres were performing at their peak. I've still got lots of work to do, but this result is encouraging. Everything worked well with the team who guided me well when it came to getting the most out of the car."

Carlo van Dam (Red Devil Comtec): "I'm happy to be back with Comtec, after already having driven for them at the end of 2006. I got a few laps in at the end of the morning and everything went well straight away. I didn't get much track time in this afternoon because of a brake problem, but I'm satisfied with my times. I should have been testing with Fortec in Valencia but the World Series Formula Renault 3.5 is my number one objective for 2008."

Renger van der Zande (Prema Powerteam): "It's not the first time I've experienced this car, as I already drove a Formula Renault 3.5 in December 2005. I'm a little bit disappointed, as I had both a yellow and a red flag during my run on fresh tyres. Everything is going well with the team because I took part in the F3 Euro Series with Prema." <pre> 1 CHARLES PIC Tech 1 48 01:16.156 2 CARLO VAN DAM COMTEC 45 01:16.500 3 BERTRAND BAGUETTE Draco Racing Team 48 01:16.549 4 RENGER VAN DER ZANDE Prema FRenault 57 01:16.648 5 YELMER BUURMANN Fortec 58 01:16.668 6 DANIIL MOVE COMTEC 49 01:16.881 7 MICHAEL HERCK PONS 40 01:16.976 8 TOBIAS HEGEWALD Interwetten 43 01:17.079 9 MARCO BONANONI RC Msport 56 01:17.118 10 ALEIX ALCARAZ PONS 58 01:17.205 11 CRAIG DOLBY Fortec 62 01:17.223 12 MARCO BARBA Draco Racing Team 67 01:17.359 13 XAVIER MAASSEN KTR 53 01:17.380 14 BRENDON HARTLEY Carlin 55 01:17.412 15 ROBERT MEHRI Epsilon Euskadi 65 01:17.589 16 MIKA MAKI Epsilon Euskadi 54 01:17.624 17 PIPPA MANN Cram 31 01:17.628 18 JOHNNY CECOTTO RC Msport 28 01:17.679 19 SIMEON IVANOV Prema FRenault 42 01:18.008 20 JONATHAN HIRSCHI Tech 1 49 01:18.053 21 MARCELLO PUGLIESI Cram 22 01:18.103 22 DIMA RAIKHLIN Interwetten 50 01:19.136 23 ALEXANDRE IMPERATORI KTR 44 01:19.169 24 ROBERT WICKENS Carlin 1