Barcelona - Preview
In 2008, seventeen different drivers mounted the podium, with nine of them tasting victory at least once. The winter testing sessions showed that this year should be little different, with twelve drivers consistently lapping within a second of each other. A strong start appears essential to make a mark on the 2009 season.
The fifth edition of World Series by Renault begins on April 18 at Barcelona, where the 2008 season drew to a close. Six months have passed since then, and a few things have changed. For instance, mirroring the latest changes in Formula 1, aerodynamics devices have been removed, giving cleaner lines to the cars developed by Renault Sport Technologies. Downforce has therefore been reduced, giving a higher top speed. Development tests, followed by collective testing, quickly showed a clear improvement in performance.
2008 champion Giedo Van der Garde proved last year how important a perfect start to the season can be. The P1 Motorsport team is hoping to repeat the feat this year with Briton James Walker.
Sponsored by the Force India F1 team, International Draco Racing has chosen stability this season, with exactly the same driver line-up as in 2008: Bertrand Baguette and Marco Barba. Adriano Morini, owner of the Italian team, is counting on the Belgian and Spanish drivers to shine from the word go.
Winner at Monaco and Le Mans last season, Charles Pic returns to Tech 1 Racing. Part of the Renault Driver Development programme, the Frenchman's only goal is to finish the season as champion! The Toulouse-based team's desire to win a third consecutive Teams title is equally strong.
Like Charles Pic, Miguel Molina won two races in 2008. Ever faithful to Formula Renault 3.5 Series, he nevertheless changed team during the off-season, joining Ultimate Motorsport. His experience in the category will be a serious advantage for team-mate Greg Mansell, son of the 1992 Formula 1 World Champion, Nigel Mansell.
Several teams have chosen to pair an experienced driver with a rookie. For example, Fairuz Fauzy will partner Sten Pentus at Mofaz Fortec Motorsport, while Marcos Martinez (Pons Racing) shares his experience in Formula Renault 3.5 Series with Federico Leo (Pons Racing). Adrian Valles will be driving for Epsilon Euskadi once more. Runner-up to Robert Kubica in 2005, Valles will play the role of tutor to Chris Van der Drift. The aim of the New Zealander, who won the International Formula Master in 2008, will be to compete for race wins as soon as possible.
The Carlin Motorsport team has adopted a very different philosophy, putting their faith in rookies Jaime Alguersuari and Oliver Turvey. The two young drivers, supported by Red Bull Junior team and Racing Step Foundation respectively, are firm friends! Having already driven for Carlin Motorsport in the UK F3 championship, the Spanish and British drivers monopolized first and second place in the championship, with Alguersuari finishing ahead of Turvey.
Prema Powerteam has also lined up a pair of rookies in the guise of Julian Leal and Frankie Prozenzano. Anton Nebilitskiy, one the leading drivers in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula Renault 2.0 West European Cup last season, is also new to the category, driving for Comtec Racing. Finally, Pasquale DiSabatino returns to RC Motorsport with high hopes, while Interwetten Racing has also entered two cars.