Victor Martins (MP Motorsport) and Alexander Smolyar (R-ace GP) will both start from pole this weekend in the Formula Renault Eurocup in Monaco. On Saturday, the Frenchman will line up ahead of the Russian on the grid before the roles are reversed on Sunday for race two in the curtain raiser for the F1 Monaco Grand Prix. Rookies Caio Collet (R-ace GP) and João Vieira (JD Motorsport) will share row two.
Group A – Martins in the final seconds
With a wet track surface, the drivers shod the Hankook rain compound. Caio Collet set the initial benchmark time before Lorenzo Colombo (MP Motorsport), Ugo de Wilde (JD Motorsport) and Victor Martins upped the pace. The Brazilian retook the top spot at the mid-way point of the session before everyone shod a new set of tyres.
Xavier Lloveras (Global Racing Services) was the first out for the final sprint, but Caio Collet answered between two full course yellow periods caused by Alessio Deledda (Global Racing Services) and Sebastián Fernández (Arden Motorsport).
While the Brazilian again improved his time as the chequers waved, Victor Martins clocked the fastest lap of the session in 1:41.860s. The two Renault Sport Academy drivers were followed by Xavier Lloveras, Lorenzo Colombo and Patrik Pasma (Arden Motorsport).
Group B – Smolyar in control
In Group B, Alexander Smolyar and team mate Oscar Piastri (R-ace GP) swapped the top spot before the Russian quickly pulled away on the timing screen with a lap of 1:41.335s just before the mid-way point of the session.
As the track began to dry, some drivers gambled with the slicks, but it didn’t pay off with the full course yellows caused by the incidents of Frank Bird (Arden Motorsport) and Kush Maini (M2 Competition).
Still on rain tyres, João Vieira neared the time of Alexander Smolyar, but his last attempt came to an end in the tyre wall at Sainte Dévote. There were no changes to the classification with Alexander Smolyar ahead of João Vieira and Oscar Piastri. Renault Sport Affiliated Driver Leonardo Lorandi (JD Motorsport) and Callan O’Keeffe (FA Racing by Drivex) completed the top five.
Victor Martins will start from pole in the Saturday race (10:15) ahead of Alexander Smolyar, Caio Collet, João Vieira and Xavier Lloveras. On Sunday, if no drivers receive a penalty, Alexander Smolyar will start ahead of Victor Martins, João Vieira, Caio Collet and Oscar Piastri for a race where a BRM exceptional timepiece will be offered to the winner.
Alexander Smolyar (R-ace GP): “It is really incredible to be on pole in Monaco. I want to achieve my dreams and I have just taken a big step towards a victory in Monaco. I will do everything I can to score a lot of points on Saturday and win on Sunday. The session was a bit tricky. A lot of drivers switched to slicks and we wanted to be covered in doing the same. In the end it wasn’t the best choice, but I was confident that I would still be the fastest if everyone went for this option. Some stayed on the rain tyres and closed in on my time, but I was a little lucky to stay on top!”
Victor Martins (MP Motorsport): “I qualified a lot better than I did last year. We put everything together and that was the key today in these conditions. It was a very good session, in which I proved that I am able to cope and manage the pressure because I was only eighth prior to my final flying lap. I stayed calm and did the job and it paid off. This is a good omen for the rest of the weekend because we are also very quick in the dry. The target tomorrow will be to win! "
João Vieira (JD Motorsport): “The track was dry in the slow corners, but sector one was still damp. I knew I would lose too much time if I switched to slicks, so I stayed with the rain tyres and it was the right decision. Unfortunately, I made a mistake on my last lap. I am a bit disappointed, because I wasn’t really on the limit, but I missed my braking point and I ended up in the wall. All the same, I will be on row two for both races. I didn’t think I would already be at the sharp end of the order after a two-year absence. Nevertheless, I am confident and I feel that I still haven’t reached my full potential! "
Caio Collet (R-ace GP): “It was a good qualifying session with a nice fight for the pole. Unfortunately, I was one of the first to go out for the final lap while Victor was the last. However, my lap wasn’t perfect, so I don’t have too many regrets. Now, I am looking forward to the races. I am going to focus on the start, because the podium is within reach. It will not be easy to gain positions, but I will do my best to get my first top three and show that I am now up to the level after a sometimes-difficult start to the year.”