Mixed conditions for FR 3.5 stars in Germany
The 26 drivers in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series field had both wet and dry track conditions to deal with today at the Nürburgring. Kevin Magnussen (Carlin) clocked the best time in the dry, while Nico Müller (International Draco Racing) was the fastest man in the rain. Once again, rain or no rain, there is very little to separate the drivers.
There are two notable changes to the entry list for the Formula Renault 3.5 Series this weekend. Brazilian driver Cesar Ramos, 11th overall in the competition in 2011 and third in the Rookie division, replaces Lotus driver Richie Stanaway, who is currently recovering from injury in Cap Breton. Antonio Felix de Costa, recruited recently by Red Bull Junior Team, is the other new face, and he will be making his debut in the completion for Arden Caterham. The Portuguese driver, third in the 2009 Eurocup Formula Renault and winner of the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC the same year, steps in to replace Lewis Williamson.
It was Robin Frijns (Fortec Motorsport), Kevin Magnussen (Carlin) and Alexander Rossi (Arden Caterham) who started the morning session brightest, before Marco Sorensen (Lotus) took control of proceedings. Magnussen’s flying lap of 1:42.719 eclipsed Sebastian Vettel’s effort of 1:42.984, which until today had been the Formula Renault 3.5 track record at the Nürburgring.
The red flag came out to interrupt the session for the first time after Lucas Foresti (Dams) went off the track. After the track had been cleared, Nick Yelloly (Comtec Racing) moved top of the timesheets with a lap of 1:42.428, before Magnussen, on fresh rubber, increased the pace even further. With a flying lap of 1:41.677, the Danish driver recorded the best time of the morning session to finish top of the pile, ahead of Yelloly and Carlos Huertas.
The afternoon brought a change in conditions, characterised by a wet track and heavy rainfall. The session began with a collision between Will Stevens (Carlin) and Walter Grubmüller (P1 Motorsport). Russian pair Daniil Move (P1 Motorsport) and Mikhail Aleshin (Team RFR) set the pace, despite both drivers taking detours into the gravel trap.
The rain eased towards the end of the session, and this was reflected in the lap times. Yelloly, Alexander Rossi and Nico Müller traded first place lap after lap, with the latter eventually finishing top at the end of a decidedly wet session. The Swiss driver finished ahead of Rossi, Sorensen and newcomers Cesar Ramos and Antonio Felix da Costa.
Nico Müller: “When the track is dry, you really need to have a bit of luck to get the right lap at the right time, because the peak performance of the tyres lasts a very short time. I’ve been in the leading group since the start of the season, but I’m just missing that little extra something to turn it into results. In the dry I’m short of those few tenths that make the difference, but in the wet we’re right up there.”
Cesar Ramos: “These were obviously my first laps in the new car. I haven’t driven a single racing car since October 2011, aside from a few laps in a go-kart. I’m going to need a bit of time to get back into the rhythm. I’ve been impressed by the downforce of this car and its cornering speed. The braking is also very good and the DRS is an interesting feature. I immediately felt comfortable at the wheel of the car.”
Antonio Felix da Costa: “This car is a learning experience. I’m starting from scratch and I have a lot to learn. The car is quick and the team seems very efficient, so everything is there for us to do well. I was lucky enough to drive a Formula One car during the Young Driver Test in 2010. That experience helps me a bit, as there’s quite a big difference between the GP3 and the Formula Renault 3.5. Joining Red Bull Junior Team is a huge opportunity. My goal is to become a Formula One driver, and I know that succeeding with Red Bull is the best way to get there.”