Pic tops first Hungaroring F-Renault practice
Renault Development Driver Charles Pic (Tech 1 Racing) led the way in the opening practice session for round four of the Formula Renault 3.5 series at the Hungaroring.
The Frenchman recorded the fastest time of 1m33.809s with four minutes of the hour long session remaining, in doing so edging out championship leader Marcos Martinez by 0.124 seconds.
Pic, who is currently ninth in the standings some 19 points adrift of Martinez, remains bullish over his championship prospects.
"I am still optimistic," he said, "we have only had three races, and one good result will move us up a long way. Obviously the car is reasonably good as we are top, but we must keep on working as the car is not yet entirely perfect."
GP2 star Edoardo Mortara made a strong impression on his debut, ending the morning in third place with fledgling Formula Renault 3.5 team SG Formula. The French outfit had made a rushed entry into the championship at the previous round in Monaco. Reliability issues had arisen after being denied, by time constraints, the opportunity of preparing their newly acquired cars in their own La Rochelle factory.
Mortara, however, reported himself satisfied with both the team's progress and his own.
"Normally I am pretty quick straight away, but then find it more difficult to improve," said Mortara. "This is the first time that I've driven the car, it is really not far from a GP2 car, but the tyres behave quite differently and that's an area I am still learning about. This race is still a one-off for me, but if it goes well then perhaps we'll see."
Fourth placed Marco Barba, like those above him, used new tyres to record his time. The Spaniard's Draco team-mate Bertrand Baguette, lying second to Martinez in the championship, persevered with old rubber to finish 11th.
Monaco runner-up Adrian Zaugg completed the top six, splitting the Fortec machines of Estonian racer Sten Pentus in fifth and team owner Fairuz Fauzy.
Of the other newcomers, former Formula 3 Euro Series race winner Jon Lancaster was eighth on his debut outing of 2009 with Comtec. In alongside Zaugg at Interwetten, DPR GP2 man Michael Herck was 25th as he reacclimatised with the series.
The field once again has a capacity 26 car entry, after outgoing Interwetten driver Mihai Marinescu completed a late agreement with Italian team RC Motorsport. The Romanian finished one place above his, possibly temporary, replacement in 24th position.