Motorsports Mondial

Wickens shows no signs of jet lag

Carlins Robert Wickens only returned from Canada a few days ago, but he was back in the groove immediately at Silverstone and was the fastest man in collective testing for the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. The Canadian finished the day in front of Nick Yelloly (Pons Racing), who made a convincing debut in the discipline, and Jack Rosensweig (Mofaz Racing). Fortec Motorsports driver Alexander Rossi, meanwhile, was the best performer in the morning session. With more than half the field separated by less than one second, the qualifying sessions should once again be wide open.

After a summer break of several weeks, 26 drivers were present today for collective testing in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. Walter Grubmuller (P1 Motorsport) was making his comeback after recovering from his accident at the Nürburgring, while Nick Yelloly was appearing in the discipline for the very fist time.

It was Nelson Panciatici (KMP Racing) who set the early pace in the first collective testing session. However, the Frenchman only held his lead for a few short minutes, with Brendon Hartley, Daniel Ricciardo and then Alexander Rossi all replacing him in first place. Hartley, Ricciardo and Rossi all shared the lead, but it was Ricciardo promoted to first-choice driver for HRT F1 Team at the recent British Grand Prix who took control of the session with a time of 1:49.210.

Soon afterwards, Alexander Rossi turned up the heat by recording the days first time of below 1:49. The American set the tone, but he was soon outperformed by Jean-Eric Vergne and then Ricciardo. Daniel Zampieri (BVM Target) set a new benchmark with a lap of 1:47.956, before Ricciardo regained control of proceedings and subsequently ran off the track. The Australian did not improve any further after his off-track detour, leaving Vergne and Rossi with the chance to seize the initiative. It was Rossi who recorded the best time with a lap of 1:47.192, closely followed by Vergne, Ricciardo, Yelloly and ISRs Nathanaël Berthon.

The drivers took to the track with light aerodynamic configurations for the afternoon session. Brendon Hartley (Gravity-Charouz) set about recording the fastest lap right from the start, and he led for a large part of the session. Following behind was Robert Wickens, who had experienced throttle problems in the morning session, and Ricciardo. Rossi was the first driver to improve on his best time from the morning session, while Vergne in turn recorded the fastest lap with a time of 1:46.970. The session was then interrupted after Tech 1 Racings Arthur Pic went off the track.

When the green flag eventually came out, several drivers returned to the track on fresh tyres. The change appeared to boost Wickens, as he went on to set the fastest lap of the day with a time of 1:46.419. The Marussia Virgin Racing reserve driver finished the day on top, ahead of debutant Yelloly, Jack Rosenzweig, Ricciardo and Vergne.

Daniel Ricciardo: The most unsettling difference between Formula One and the Renault 3.5 Series is actually the driving position. In the FR 3.5 Series, I sit a lot lower than I do in F1, and it caused a few problems this morning. Im really happy to be back in the championship and back behind the wheel of this car. We have the same way of working and were high up in the pecking order. I like this circuit, and I need victories.

Daniel McKenzie: We did a good job today. You really have to find the right pace on this circuit, so we had to string laps together. Its always special to drive on home soil. Ill be welcoming a lot of professional partners and friends here this weekend, so I need to get good results.

Nick Yelloly: Those were my first laps in the Formula Renault 3.5 today. The first thing that struck me was the difference in speed along the straights compared with the GP3. After that, I had to get used to the cars strong downforce and the carbon brakes. Ill also have to learn about pitstops, so theres a lot to take in. Its fortunate that I know this circuit well.