The 2019 season has just finished, but the Formula Renault Eurocup teams are already preparing for the future at the rookie tests held at the Yas Marina Circuit. 22 drivers were on hand with some familiar faces and eight aspirants invited by Renault Sport Racing. Matteo Nannini (R-ace GP) dominated the two sessions, posting the fastest time of the day in 2:08.716s, while Michael Belov (Bhaitech Racing) led the way among the newcomers to the category.
Run in ideal conditions, the first three-hour session saw the lap times progressively drop under the leadership of Petr Ptáček (MP Motorsport) and Amaury Cordeel (MP Motorsport).
In the second hour, Matteo Nannini took over with a lap of 2:08.716s, which held up as the quickest time of the day. The Italian was followed by Amaury Cordeel, Leonardo Lorandi (Bhaitech Racing), Kush Maini (R-ace GP) and Petr Ptáček. Michael Belov finished eighth and top rookie ahead of Hadrien David (R-ace GP) and Roman Stanek (MP Motorsport).
In even hotter conditions in the afternoon, Joey Alders (M2 Competition) was first on the board before the pace accelerated at the end of hour one. Matteo Nannini returned to the top of the leaderboard, but Leonardo Lorandi went quicker just before the last half-hour.
With ten minutes to go, the competitors went back out as the temperatures began to cool. Petr Ptáček kicked-off the action, but Matteo Nannini moved to the top of the timing screen as the chequered flag was shown with a time of 2:08.955s. The Italian preceded the Czech, Amaury Cordeel and Leonardo Lorandi. With the fifth best time, Michael Belov was, once again, the fastest rookie ahead of Roman Stanek and Oliver Rasmussen (Arden Motorsport).
After winning the title yesterday in the final race of the season, Oscar Piastri was back in the car to lead the development tests with the Formula Renault FR-19. This Sunday evening, the Australian will receive his trophy as well as the watches exclusively created by BRM Chronographes for the champion and Abu Dhabi night race winner.
Another day of collective tests will be held tomorrow. The session will be run from 17:00 to 20:00 and 21:00 to 00:00 local time (UTC+4).
Matteo Nannini (R-ace GP): “It was a great day for my first outing with the team that won all of the titles this year. We worked well together, I improved my driving and I am delighted with the results. However, I think we still have a lot of room for improvement that I hope we can make tomorrow!”
Michael Belov (Bhaitech Racing) – 4th in the Italian F4 Championship: “I am pleased with how this first day with the Formula Renault went. The first session was quite difficult, but I learned and built confidence in the afternoon to use all of the aerodynamics of the car in the corners. We could say that an F4 doesn’t really have any downforce while you can really feel it in a Formula Renault. I improved from one lap to the next and now I know what I need to work on in the future.”
Hadrien David (R-ace GP) – French F4 Champion: “This was my first real day of testing in a Formula Renault and it is a huge difference compared to the French Formula 4 car. I am not very pleased with my performance. I could have done better if I had not been stubborn with a driving which does not suit this car. I realised this when I went out on new tyres, so I hope that everything will be much better tomorrow. This shows that I need to keep working, because I need to relearn everything to get the most out of the aerodynamics and an engine that has twice as much power.”
Sebastian Alvarez (MP Motorsport) – 2nd British F4: “It was a good day for my first time in Formula Renault although there is a lot more learning and progress to do. This car is totally different to the F4 with its superior performance and weight. However, I had a lot of fun even though it was not easy at all in the very hot conditions!"
Arthur Leclerc (M2 Competition) – 3rd ADAC Formel 4: “Generally speaking, my first laps in Formula Renault went pretty well. Today wasn’t really representative, because I was still learning the car, and its philosophy is very different to that of an F4, as well as the Yas Marina Circuit. We chose not to run on new tyres due to the heat, so we kept the same set of tyres for the entire afternoon or nearly so to improve and do some aerodynamic tests. We made good progress with the team and it will be interesting to see where we are when we switch to fresh rubber tomorrow!”
Joey Alders (Global Racing Service) – Formula Renault Asia leader: “These tests were difficult, but they went well! I spent most of the day with tyres that already had 200 kilometres on them, but I noticed the huge difference in grip when I ran on new tyres. The driving required for the last two generations of Formula Renault is quite different, but it is just a matter of adapting and we will see how it goes tomorrow!"
Reshad De Gerus (Arden Motorsport) – French F4 runner-up: “This first outing went very well because I improved throughout the day. The target today was to build confidence to go faster step by step. There are a lot more aerodynamics compared to an F4 car, so you have to get used to carrying a lot more speed in the corners. In my final stint, I switched to new tyres as did a lot of drivers and I finished 11th. This is a promising result for a first day with a car and a track I didn’t know before!”
Stephen Hong (M2 Competition) – Winner of Road To Champion in Formula Renault Asia: “My day was tough as I need to find my marks with the new Formula Renault. I felt that I was improving lap after lap and I gradually tamed the heavier steering and downforce in the fast corners. It is also a nicely balanced car and it is a pleasure to discover Abu Dhabi, which is a superb circuit where we pass under a hotel, and run along the marina and close to the sea… It is a fantastic experience and I look forward to tomorrow to drive at night!”
Émilien Denner (M2 Competition) – FIA International Karting Super Cup - KZ2 winner: “It is both impressive and fun to drive on such a circuit. It was a tough day in the car because karting and single-seater are two very different things and I need to adapt some more to find the limits. We also did a lot of aerodynamic testing to let us go for performance tomorrow. We will see what it brings, but I can only improve!”