Reigning Formula Renault Eurocup champion Robin Frijns set the fastest time on the first day of pre-season testing for the new Formula Renault 3.5 car at the French circuit of Paul Ricard on Tuesday.
The Fortec Motorsports driver snatched the top spot away from the more experienced Alexander Rossi and Jules Bianchi in the closing stages of the day, with fellow rookie Richie Stanaway (Lotus/Gravity-Charouz) joining him at the top just before the end.
F1 test drivers Bianchi and Rossi ended the day third and fourth for Tech 1 and Arden, respectively, while Carlos Huertas was another rookie to shine as he put the second Fortec car in the top five.
The first day of running was a busy one for the teams – who were essentially shaking down the brand-new cars, particularly in the morning. While the day was affected by a few red flags and some quiet periods with no cars on track, Renault's technical team was pleased with the debut of its new racer.
"To see the 26 drivers out on track on Tuesday was the culmination of a lot of hard work by the competition department and our technical partners," Renault Sport Technologies competition director Francois Champod said. "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 car."
The new FR3.5 proved nearly three seconds quicker than its predecessor at the French test track, with Frijns's best lap of 1m47.006s comparing to the lap record of 1m49.901s for the old car, set by 2011 champion Robert Wickens.
Pos Driver Team Time
1. Robin Frijns Fortec Motorsports 1m47.006s
2. Richie Stanaway Lotus 1m47.125s + 0.119
3. Jules Bianchi Tech 1 Racing 1m47.252s + 0.246
4. Alexander Rossi Arden Caterham 1m47.302s + 0.296
5. Carlos Huertas Fortec Motorsports 1m47.388s + 0.382
6. Arthur Pic Dams 1m47.445s + 0.439
7. Kevin Magnussen Carlin 1m47.531s + 0.525
8. Andrè Negrao International Draco 1m47.576s + 0.570
9. Walter Grubmuller P1 Motorsport 1m47.757s + 0.751
10. Marco Sorensen Lotus 1m47.757s + 0.751
11. Lewis Williamson Arden Caterham 1m47.989s + 0.983
12. Nico Muller International Draco 1m48.286s + 1.280
13. Daniil Move P1 Motorsport 1m48.317s + 1.311
14. Kevin Korjus Tech 1 Racing 1m48.501s + 1.495
15. Sam Bird Isr 1m48.519s + 1.513
16. Vittorio Ghirelli Comtec Racing 1m48.933s + 1.927
17. Anton Nebylitskiy Team Rfr 1m49.127s + 2.121
18. Lucas Foresti Dams 1m49.204s + 2.198
19. Giovanni Venturini Bvm Target 1m49.383s + 2.377
20. Mikhail Aleshin Team Rfr 1m49.613s + 2.607
21. Nick Yelloly Comtec Racing 1m49.753s + 2.747
22. Nicolay Martsenko Bvm Target 1m49.843s + 2.837
23. Jake Rosenzweig Isr 1m50.317s + 3.311
24. Yann Cunha Pons Racing 1m50.404s + 3.398
25. Zoel Amberg Pons Racing 1m50.435s + 3.429
26. Will Stevens Carlin 1m50.454s + 3.448