FR 35 Series - Paul Ricard - Collective Test - Day 1
Tuesday 13 March was a red letter day for Renault Sport Technologies and its technical partners, as the 13 teams and 26 drivers making up the 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 Series field got down to testing their new cars on the track. Posting the fastest lap of the day was 2011 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 champion Robin Frijns (Fortec Motorsports) at 1:47.006, with the brand-new FR 3.5 already proving nearly three seconds quicker than its predecessor.
Just a few days after the official presentation of the 2012 World Series by Renault season in Paris, all in the presence of Alain Prost, another landmark event took place today at the Paul Ricard, as the 26 new single-seaters that will go wheel to wheel in this year's Formula Renault 3.5 Series championship took to the track for the first day of collective testing."On Monday we started all 26 cars for the first time, one by one," said Francois Champod, Renault Sport Technologies' Competition Director. "Everything went as planned and to see the 26 drivers out on the track this Tuesday was the culmination of a lot of hard work by the competition department and our technical partners."Everything went off well on this first day and after finding their way around the car, the drivers picked up the pace. It was very satisfying to see the teams post such good performances on their very first day with the new Formula Renault 3.5."Walter Grubmuller (P1 Motorsport) had the honour at 9.30 am of being the first driver this season to take to the track in a new Formula Renault 3.5. He and his fellow drivers spent the first hour of testing checking their set-ups and getting used to the DRS and the new functions on the steering wheel. It was not long before the first times started coming in, with the Paul Ricard record of 1:49.901, set by Robert Wickens in March 2011, falling just two hours into the session.Daniil Move (P1 Motorsport) used all his experience to slice even more time of that mark, ending the morning session atop the timesheets with a lap of 1:48.456, ahead of Marco Sorensen (Lotus), Alexander Rossi (Arden Caterham), Frijns and Grubmuller.The frenetic pace continued in the afternoon as the lap times kept coming down. Nico Muller (International Draco Racing) led for most of the session until Frijns belied his debutant status in the event with a time of 1:47.489. Rossi and Jules Bianchi (Tech 1 Racing) were determined not to let the Dutchman have things all his own way, but a searing lap of 1:47.006 gave Frijns the last word, as he ended the day's testing ahead of Richie Stanaway (Lotus) and Bianchi.What they said:
Daniil Move: "You need a little time to get to grips with all the new functions on the steering wheel. It's pretty confusing to begin with and you really need to pay attention, but you get used to it in next to no time. There's no doubt this new single-seater is faster than the old one, and it's a cut above in every respect. We've a long way to go before we get the very best out of it and yet we're already a lot quicker than we were. It's fantastic."
Nico Muller: "The thing that impresses me most about the new car is the aerodynamics. I never drove this track with the old car so I don't really have any references, but compared to every other car I've had the chance to drive it feels absolutely amazing on fast corners. I'm finding the DRS a bit unstable. It's effective but it gives you a sore thumb."
Arthur Pic: "We did a lot of driving today, which is really good considering it's our first day testing a new car. It's a big improvement on the old car, and you can really feel the extra power when the DRS kicks in. It takes you aback to begin with. The engine's operating range is different too, and it sounds just great."