Charles Pic leads the way For the first time this season, Charles Pic is competing at a circuit that is not new to him. And the Tech 1 Racing made his experience count as he took the fastest time of this first day of Formula Renault 3.5 Series...
Charles Pic leads the way
For the first time this season, Charles Pic is competing at a circuit that is not new to him. And the Tech 1 Racing made his experience count as he took the fastest time of this first day of Formula Renault 3.5 Series collective testing. In contrast, Robert Wickens (Carlin Motorsport) has never driven here before. That didn't stop him clocking the day's second fastest time, however, just a few hundredths of a second behind Pic.
For the 26 Formula Renault 3.5 Series drivers, the Hungarian meeting begins with five and a half hours of collective testing, with two 2-hour sessions today (Thursday) and two 45-minute sessions on Friday.
Brazilian driver Claudio Cantelli, who started the season with Ultimate Signature, has now taken Aleix Alcaraz's place at RC Motorsport, while Alcaraz replaces Maximo Cortes at Pons Racing.
At the Hungaroring, the early sessions are always tricky due to the dust on the track. As might have been expected, the times got quicker as the first session went on, as seven drivers in turn claimed the lead.
With a lap clocked at 1'35''100 thirty minutes into the session, Charles Pic (Tech 1 Racing) was the first driver to set a time of note. The winner of the last race, Robert Wickens (Carlin Motorsport) eventually surpassed him with a time of 1'34''255. Shortly afterwards, the action was interrupted as Guillaume Moreau (KTR) lost control of his car and crashed with quite some force into the safety barrier. His Formula Renault 3.5 (No. 17) briefly caught fire and the damage sustained was sufficiently serious to keep it out of action for the rest of the day.
In the last ten minutes, the standings changed considerably. First Wickens improved his time, then Miguel Molina (Prema Powerteam) moved past him into first place, where he would remain for the rest of the session. Robert Wickens took the second fastest time, ahead of Alvaro Barba (Prema Powerteam), Charles Pic and Fabio Carbone (Ultimate Signature).
The drivers cranked things up a notch in the second session. Robert Wickens was the first to beat Molina's time. Bertrand Baguette (International Draco) then took the lead with a time of 1'33''852. As is so often the case on the first day of testing, the drivers and their teams were keeping a close eye on their rivals to see who would opt to slip on a fresh set of tyres. Around the halfway mark, Julien Jousse (Tech 1 Racing) took this option, and with it the lead.
There were changes in the standings until the very end. Robert Wickens moved back in front, before being relegated to second place by Charles Pic with a quarter of an hour to go. Alvaro Barba, Esteban Guerrieri and Julien Jousse completed the top 5.
Charles Pic: It's a real advantage to finally be driving on a circuit I'm familiar with. I didn't need to spend time getting to know the track and so we were able to get straight down to business. I think there's still something not quite right with the engine or the gearbox, but all in all I'm really happy with the way my car is handling.
Robert Wickens: It's the first time I've driven here. I love the technically demanding circuits, so this track appeals to me. We constantly improved the car's setup, in terms of both handling and braking. I won at Silverstone a month ago, then got on the podium in F3 Euro Series last week, so it would be good to keep that run of form going!