Robert Wickens leads the way With many of their rivals driving at Silverstone for the first time, Robert Wickens (Carlin Motorsport) and Fabio Carbone (Ultimate Signature) made their experience count on the first day of collective testing.
Robert Wickens leads the way
With many of their rivals driving at Silverstone for the first time, Robert Wickens (Carlin Motorsport) and Fabio Carbone (Ultimate Signature) made their experience count on the first day of collective testing. Quick times abounded, leaving the outcome of the weekend's races hard to predict.
Four hours of collective testing were on the programme today in the run-up to the first ever Formula Renault 3.5 Series races at Silverstone. First up, the drivers concentrated on getting to grips with a circuit unfamiliar to most. In a last minute change of personnel, Argentine driver Esteban Guerrieri replaced Claudio Cantelli for Ultimate Signature.
The first session began with Carlin Motorsport drivers Mikhail Aleshin and Robert Wickens vying for first position with Fortec Motorsport's James Walker and Fairuz Fauzy. With a lap timed at 1'37''529, it was Fauzy who came out on top.
Even in the early stages of the session, things were hotting up nicely, as Giedo Van der Garde took the lead with a time of 1'37''351. The Championship leader would not hold on to top spot for long, however, with first Robert Wickens, then Fabio Carbone (Ultimate Signature) beating his time. Van der Garde hit back an hour into proceedings, clocking what was to be the quickest time of the morning: 1'34''385.
Behind Van der Garde, the standings were constantly changing. Marco Bonanomi (Red Devil Team Comtec) was lying second at this stage, ahead of Bertrand Baguette (International Draco Racing), Alvaro Barba (Prema Powerteam) and James Walker.
The afternoon session got off to a subdued start, as the minds of the drivers and their teams began to turn to their race setup. Indeed, nearly an hour had passed when things really got going. Julien Jousse (Tech 1 Motorsport) was among the first drivers to pull in for fresh tyres. It stands to reason, then, that he was the first man to beat Van der Garde's time from the morning, with a lap clocked at 1'34''219.
As the end of the session approached, virtually all the drivers opted to change their tyres. Bertrand Baguette, then Fabio Carbone, briefly held the lead before, with just a few minutes remaining, Robert Wickens, who had been among the leaders from the start, clocked what would ultimately be the fastest time of the day: 1'33''783. Second-placed Fabio Carbone was just seven tenths of a second slower, and Bertrand Baguette was not far behind him. In all, thirteen cars - that is, half the field - were separated by less than a second on a circuit really lets drivers express themselves.
Robert Wickens: "This is the first time this season I've driven on a track that I knew, so that's one less thing for me to worry about! Carlin Motorsport have immediately produced a fast and very well balanced car. I'm really motivated because I need to score some points this weekend!"
Fabio Carbone: "Since the start of the season, we've been consistently quick in collective testing but struggled in qualifying, which makes the races that bit more difficult. So our main objective here is to do well in qualifying."
Duncan Tappy: "The car is incredible - everything about it is different from the cars I've driven up to now. Physically it's quite demanding, but I feel well prepared. My aim is to get as much driving in as possible to get used to the car and then gradually improve my performances. At the moment I'm loving every minute."