Fresh from his maiden Formula Renault 3.5 Series win at Monaco last weekend, Nico Muller (International Draco Racing) stayed firmly in the limelight at Spa-Francorchamps, the Swiss racer posting the quickest time in the day’s collective testing ahead of Kevin Magnussen (DAMS) and Antonio Felix da Costa (Arden Caterham). Competing on home soil, Stoffel Vandoorne (Fortec Motorsports) had gone fastest in the wet in the morning.
The Dane, who leads the points, remained on top on the resumption. After Christopher Zanella (ISR) slid off, bringing a premature end to his session, Sergey Sirotkin (ISR) then moved out front only for Stoffel Vandoorne to edge ahead with a time of 2:19.894, the Belgian eventually ending the morning in front of the DAMS duo of Kevin Magnussen and Norman Nato. Carlos Huertas (Carlin) and Carlos Sainz Jr rounded off the top five in a session that ended early when Arthur Pic (AV Formula) went off.
The second session began in the same way as the first, as Kevin Magnussen shot into an early lead before Zoel Amberg (Pons Racing) encountered trouble at La Source and brought proceedings to a temporary halt.
Carlos Sainz and Antonio Felix da Costa (Arden Caterham) then made the most of improving conditions to post fastest times before Kevin Magnussen returned to the top of the pile once more.
Relegated to second place by his fellow countryman Marco Sorensen (Lotus), the Dane went quickest again in the final quarter of an hour, the prelude to a frenetic finale in which Nico Muller posted the day’s best time of 2:00.281, three hundredths faster than Kevin Magnussen. Finishing within the same tenth of a second were Antonio Felix da Costa, Stoffel Vandoorne and Will Stevens (P1 by Strakka Racing).
Nico Müller: “The weather is always unpredictable at Spa. We drove in all conditions and we tried out the new tyres. We’ve still got some adjustments to make but it’s been a good day for us. We’re confident about tomorrow, though the weather is sure to play a big part.”
Kevin Magnussen: “I’m happy with the way testing went. The car seems to be running well, and with a few adjustments we should be able to get in the points tomorrow. Spa was a good meeting for me last year, but to be honest that counts for nothing today.”
Stoffel Vandoorne: “It’s been a good day despite the weather. Luckily, the rain stopped just before the session started and the track gradually dried out. We put the new tyres on and tested them out, and I found some pace straightaway despite the traffic. It’s always a bonus to race at home, though you’re always in demand and you have to make sure you maintain your focus.”