Winner two weeks ago in Moscow Roberto Merhi (Zeta Corse) was quickest in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series collective tests.
In the return of the World Series by Renault premier class at the Nürburgring, the Spaniard, who was victorious on this same circuit in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 in 2008, set the fastest lap on Friday stopping the clock in 1:42.179 to lead the Red Bull Junior Team drivers, Pierre Gasly (Arden Motorsport) and Carlos Sainz (DAMS). Sauber F1 Team reserve driver, Sergey Sirotkin (Fortec Motorsports) posted the quickest time in the morning session.
Delayed and shortened due to heavy fog over the Nürburgring, the opening session of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series collective tests saw eight different drivers swap best time in the first ten minutes. Despite the efforts of Oliver Rowland (Fortec Motorsports) and Carlos Sainz, Matias Laine (Strakka Racing) led the way at mid-session.
With seven minutes remaining, Carlos Sainz moved back on top. William Buller (Arden Motorsport), Marco Sørensen (Tech 1 Racing) and Sergey Sirotkin all followed suit. Oliver Rowland was next to sit on P1 before Sergey Sirotkin stopped the clock in 1:42.898. Marco Sørensen, William Buller and Carlos Sainz completed the top five.
The start of the second session was as competitive as the first. After ten minutes, Will Stevens (Strakka Racing) was on P1. The Caterham Racing Academy driver remained there for quite a while until he was dislodged by Lotus F1 Junior Team driver, Marlon Stockinger (Lotus).
In the final minutes, the pace picked up with the switch to new tyres. Oscar Tunjo (Pons Racing) took the lead, but then it was William Buller, Carlos Sainz, Matias Laine and Pierre Gasly all moving to the top of the time sheet. The French driver then had to cede his place to Roberto Merhi who posted the best time of 1:42.179 in the final seconds of the session. Carlos Sainz was third ahead of William Buller and Oliver Rowland.
Roberto Merhi: ”The Nürburgring is a track I really like. I have always been fast here in single-seaters. The afternoon went better than the morning where we had a few problems, but it is all sorted. However, Friday is just practice and I prefer to be ahead on Saturday and Sunday!”
Pierre Gasly: ”This morning, we didn’t head in the right direction. My team-mate tested some different things and we could see the differences. We got closer to him in the afternoon, before fine-tuning the set-ups. I only got one lap on new tyres, but I made a mistake and I could have improved if there hadn’t been traffic!”
Sergey Sirotkin: ”The morning session went well. We put in good lap times on used tyres. In the afternoon, we made a few set-up changes and we returned to the track a bit late, when the yellow flag was shown. I could only do one lap and I went a bit wide. We couldn’t really test the car with fresh rubber, which will be an inconvenience tomorrow, but we believe in our genuine pace!”