Tech 1 Racing prepares for the future
Just a few days after their success in the World Series Formula Renault 3.5, the Tech 1 Racing team was back at work for three days of testing at the Paul Ricard circuit. Five drivers tested for the Toulouse-based team in preparation for the 2008 season.
Following the final race meeting at Barcelona, the teams headed to the south of France for the first three days of winter testing. Another round of tests is scheduled for Valencia (Spain) from November 28-30. This will be the last outing for the current Formula Renault 3.5, as the 2008 season will see the introduction of a brand-new car.
In the meantime, the Tech 1 Racing team has continued its technical development programme. "We've not yet explored all the possible settings on this car," explained team boss Simon Abadie. "The work we are currently doing is extremely useful as the whole rear suspension and running gear will be identical on the new car." However, the principal objective for the three-day test was nonetheless to assess potential drivers for 2008 rather than the car.
On Tuesday, the young Charles Pic, aged 17, had his first drive in a car with more than 400 horsepower. The Frenchman finished third in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series, and at Paul Ricard he drove Alvaro Parente's championship-winning car. It did not take him long to get accustomed to the Formula Renault 3.5, as he set fastest time on the first day!
Alongside him, the Swiss Jonathan Hirschi made solid progress throughout the day. Unfortunately, he cut a chicane during his final series of flying laps and this prevented him from setting a significant time.
The following day Charles Pic continued his development programme while Julien Jousse got back into the n.31 car. Jousse was a rookie himself just a year earlier but the Frenchman now took on the role of 'old stager', giving the other drivers some useful advice and establishing benchmark times. Despite several red flags that interrupted the action, the two Tech 1 drivers managed to set second and third fastest times.
On the third day, the team tried out Russian driver Daniil Move and the Brazilian Romancini, vice-champion in South American Formula 3. Having spent a year learning the formula, Move soon felt at ease in the championship-winning Tech 1 machine : he set quickest time in the morning session. Romancini was also getting steadily quicker: he set eighth-fastest time of the day, less than five-tenths of a second off the best time.
"It's been a very productive three days, as all the drivers we have tested have been able to demonstrate their abilities and the abilities of our cars, " concluded Simon Abadie. " Charles was very impressive for his first time in a Formula Renault 3.5. As well as his outright speed, he was able to show us his committed approach over both the days he spent with us."
The Toulouse-based team will continue its test programme at Valencia with Julien, Charles and Englishman Oliver Oakes.