Fortec's Cesar Ramos led the way in Formula Renault 3.5 free practice at Spa-Francorchamps today. The Brazilian, who claimed pole position for the second race of the season at Motorland Aragon a fortnight ago, set the quickest time of 2m04.337s in this afternoon's second session.
ISR's Daniel Ricciardo finished an impressive second, 0.472sec adrift of Ramos, in his first Formula Renault 3.5 meeting of the season. Ricciardo sat out the opening round in order drive for Toro Rosso in free practice at the Chinese Grand Prix. The Australian will be determined to make inroads into a 43-point deficit to points leader Alexander Rossi (Fortec), who was fourth today.
Having appeared less than content with his podium at Motorland, Albert Costa was all smiles in third, just 0.027sec behind Ricciardo. The EPIC Racing driver grinned: "I am happy, but there's still a big gap to Ramos. Things are much better than in Motorland. For me there were too many corners there where you are braking and turning at the same time. I like Spa, and I think most of the other tracks this year you are doing the majority of your braking in a straight line."
KMP Racing's Nelson Panciatici continued his strong form from round one to take fifth ahead of Robert Wickens. Carlin driver Wickens took a brief break from serious business by posting a joke picture on Twitter of watching the royal wedding from the cockpit of his Dallara.
Wickens' teammate Jean-Eric Vergne headed the morning session with a fastest time of 2m05.27s. The British Formula 3 champion was half a second faster than BVM Target's Daniel Zampieri, who claimed second at Spa despite a drive-through penalty with Pons in 2010. Vergne had a more trying afternoon, finding the gravel at the Rivage hairpin.
Last year's Spa polesitter Jake Rosenzweig suffered engine trouble today. Rosenzweig's teammate Chris van der Drift did well to claim eighth spot, despite having only one set of new tires following brake problems in Motorland that destroyed several sets of rubber.
Motorland race two victor Kevin Korjus was 22nd in the morning session and 19th this afternoon. "We had some problems today," said the Estonian. "I think half the problem may be me, and then we also have some small problems with the car."
Korjus' Tech 1 Racing team boss Simon Abadie stated that he would be happy if the 18-year-old could finish in the top 10 in tomorrow's race and top five on Sunday.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Jean-Eric Vergne Carlin 2m05.271s
2. Daniel Zampieri Target 2m05.777s + 0.506s
3. Robert Wickens Carlin 2m05.890s + 0.619s
4. Arthur Pic Tech 1 2m05.901s + 0.630s
5. Anton Nebylitskiy KMP 2m05.953s + 0.682s
6. Daniel Ricciardo ISR 2m05.994s + 0.723s
7. Albert Costa EPIC 2m06.084s + 0.813s
8. Daniil Move P1 2m06.098s + 0.827s
9. Walter Grubmuller P1 2m06.110s + 0.839s
10. Alexander Rossi Fortec 2m06.117s + 0.846s
11. Sergio Canamasas Target 2m06.118s + 0.847s
12. Brendon Hartley Gravity-Charouz 2m06.199s + 0.928s
13. Chris van der Drift Mofaz 2m06.315s + 1.044s
14. Jan Charouz Gravity-Charouz 2m06.420s + 1.149s
15. Nelson Panciatici KMP 2m06.476s + 1.205s
16. Sten Pentus EPIC 2m06.618s + 1.347s
17. Stephane Richelmi Draco 2m06.685s + 1.414s
18. Andre Negrao Draco 2m06.796s + 1.525s
19. Nathanael Berthon ISR 2m06.891s + 1.620s
20. Cesar Ramos Fortec 2m06.912s + 1.641s
21. Oliver Webb Pons 2m07.002s + 1.731s
22. Kevin Korjus Tech 1 2m07.116s + 1.845s
23. Jean-Karl Vernay Pons 2m07.250s + 1.979s
24. Jake Rosenzweig Mofaz 2m07.905s + 2.634s
25. Daniel McKenzie Comtec 2m08.461s + 3.190s
26. Daniel de Jong Comtec 2m08.745s + 3.474s
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Cesar Ramos Fortec 2m04.337s
2. Daniel Ricciardo ISR 2m04.809s + 0.472s
3. Albert Costa EPIC 2m04.836s + 0.499s
4. Alexander Rossi Fortec 2m04.899s + 0.562s
5. Nelson Panciatici KMP 2m05.188s + 0.851s
6. Robert Wickens Carlin 2m05.195s + 0.858s
7. Daniil Move P1 2m05.237s + 0.900s
8. Chris van der Drift Mofaz 2m05.275s + 0.938s
9. Walter Grubmuller P1 2m05.385s + 1.048s
10. Sten Pentus EPIC 2m05.405s + 1.068s
11. Sergio Canamasas Target 2m05.430s + 1.093s
12. Brendon Hartley Gravity-Charouz 2m05.455s + 1.118s
13. Stephane Richelmi Draco 2m05.509s + 1.172s
14. Daniel Zampieri Target 2m05.593s + 1.256s
15. Arthur Pic Tech 1 2m05.633s + 1.296s
16. Jean-Karl Vernay Pons 2m05.673s + 1.336s
17. Oliver Webb Pons 2m05.838s + 1.501s
18. Jake Rosenzweig Mofaz 2m05.846s + 1.509s
19. Kevin Korjus Tech 1 2m05.968s + 1.631s
20. Nathanael Berthon ISR 2m06.154s + 1.817s
21. Anton Nebylitskiy KMP 2m06.181s + 1.844s
22. Jan Charouz Gravity-Charouz 2m06.202s + 1.865s
23. Daniel de Jong Comtec 2m06.711s + 2.374s
24. Daniel McKenzie Comtec 2m06.914s + 2.577s
25. Andre Negrao Draco 2m07.310s + 2.973s
26. Jean-Eric Vergne Carlin 2m07.729s + 3.392s