Hanley shows intent The World Series Formula Renault 3.5 drivers took over from their Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 counterparts today on the Barcelona circuit. It came as no surprise to see Ben Hanley (Prema Powerteam) and Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin...
Hanley shows intent
The World Series Formula Renault 3.5 drivers took over from their Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 counterparts today on the Barcelona circuit. It came as no surprise to see Ben Hanley (Prema Powerteam) and Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin Motorsport) out front with both drivers making a return to the category after a good season learning the ropes.
The resumption of collective testing for the World Series Formula Renault 3.5 was blessed with sun and mild conditions. With three sets of new tyres allocated to each driver for the two days, the teams had to adapt their plans to reconcile the need for drivers to get in some track time with the need to test different setups.
The last free seats in WSR were filled just a few days ago: Alvaro Parente (three victories in 2006) signed to Tech 1 Racing, while Carlos Iaconelli joined Pons Racing. Though Christian Montanari may be driving for GD Racing, it is yet to be confirmed whether he will actually be taking part in the Championship. Sebastian Vettel (Carlin Motorsport) and Giedo van der Garde (Victory Engineering) were not in attendance as they are currently on third driver duty for the F1 Australian GP. Vettel will be replaced tomorrow by Sébastien Buemi.
The morning session was dominated by Mikhail Aleshin. Showing an impeccable knowledge of what he can expect from his team and his car, the unshakeable Russian set the fastest time with two of the four hours of the session gone. Aleshin was then looking likely to put in a repeat performance in the afternoon, but Ben Hanley spoiled the fun by just 55/1000ths. After Panciatici's showing in the Eurocup, it seems like the RDD drivers are on top form for the start of the season: "We have successfully completed a major testing programme. Setting the fast time is simply a bonus for us. Things are feeling great both with the team and the car." Aleshin remains non-committal however: "Everything went well for us today. The team put in some good work, but I think there is still room for improvement. We still have plenty of things to test tomorrow."
Back in third, Filipe Albuquerque (Epsilon Euskadi) appears to be on the same wavelength as his Red Bull Junior Team stable-mate: "The car feels very good to me, but I know that I can improve further. It wasn't exactly easy today as we had loads of things to test, but not enough tyres to do things the way we would have liked to. Still, it looks as if we're on the right track. The Belgian Bertrand Baguette, another driver to make the move from Formula Renault 2.0, set an excellent fourth-fastest time: "To be honest, I didn't expect to find myself so high up the rankings. Things went well for us all day as I was always somewhere between 5th and 10th. I only put in one lap on my second set of fresh tyres and I reckon that the leader's times are well within our reach."
The top five was completed by the Catalan driver Miguel Molina (Pons Racing): "This has been a very positive first day for us. We have completed our testing programme and we are going to keep working on preparations for the first race in Monza."