No worries for Esteban Guerrieri
Esteban Guerrieri (ISR) gained the psychological edge over his rivals in this three-way battle for the title by setting the best time in collective testing here in Silverstone today. The Argentine took control of proceedings ahead of Daniel Ricciardo (Tech 1 Racing) and Jon Lancaster (Fortec Motorsport), who both look determined to put in a good performance on home turf. Brendon Hartley (P1 Motorsport) and Nathanaël Berthon (International Draco Racing) completed the top five.
Collective testing for the Formula Renault 3.5 Series here in Silverstone saw the return of Brendon Hartley to the category. The New Zealander has been drafted in for the weekend as a replacement for Jan Charouz, who suffered an ankle injury during fitness training last week. The Czech driver should be back behind the wheel in Barcelona, for the final round of the season.
Greg Mansell (Comtec Racing) took things by the scruff of the neck right from the start of the session to take a place on the front row. The lap times however just kept on getting faster. Daniel Ricciardo then Julien Leal (International Draco Racing) took it in turns to go quickest. But it was Jean-Éric Vergne (Tech 1 Racing) who was the first driver to break through the 1'49 barrier, with a lap in 1'48''824. It was then down to another French driver to chase down his countryman, as Nelson Panciatici (Junior Lotus Racing) went one better in 1'48''684. The two men from across the Channel did not stay at the top of the timing sheets for long though, as Jon Lancaster made a major breakthrough with a lap in 1'47''569 to take control of the session ahead of Brendon Hartley, now in second.
The standings then started to settle down in that order, with drivers taking advantage of the session to fine-tune their settings on this new Silverstone circuit and then have another go at the best time towards the close of the session. Albert Costa (Epsilon Euskadi) was the first to get things rolling, knocking Jon Lancaster off top spot, with a lap in 1'47''401. The Spaniard's session was, however, to come to an abrupt end as he ran off the track, resulting in the red flag being shown just as Stefano Coletti (Comtec Racing) set the fastest time of the morning in 1'46''826. That was sufficient for the Monaco driver to finish the morning session fastest ahead of Albert Costa, Daniel Ricciardo, Jon Lancaster and Sten Pentus (Fortec Motorsport).
We then had to wait until halfway through the second session to see any improvement on the fastest time. Greg Mansell was the first to come close, but, in the end, it was Daniel Ricciardo, who beat Stefano Coletti's time with a lap in 1'46''362. Brendon Hartley then came close to his former Tech 1 Racing teammate's time to move up into second place.
It was the Australian who remained fastest for most of the session. But just as the chequered flag was about to come out, Esteban Guerrieri made his presence felt. With a lap in 1'46''084, he not only secured the best time of the day but also made his ambitions for the weekend crystal clear. Over the two sessions, he finished ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Jon Lancaster, who took the third fastest time as the session drew to a close.
Esteban Guerrieri : "We had a few problems this morning, especially with the brakes. But we got things sorted and then worked hard throughout the second session to make up for lost time. We managed to find a good overall balance, both in a light aerodynamic configuration and in a normal configuration. This weekend I have to win two races, without worrying about what other people are doing.
Stefano Coletti : "We are performing well in normal aerodynamic configuration, as the best time I set this morning goes to show. In a light aerodynamic configuration, things are working less well, and it's been like that since the start of the season in fact! We are trying to sort that out, as otherwise things are going to be difficult on Saturday. My objective for the end of the season is to win a race and hold onto my place in the top five in the Drivers' Championship."