In a dual worthy of a qualifying battle, Oscar Piastri (R-ace GP) edged Lorenzo Colombo (MP Motorsport) for best time in the Formula Renault Eurocup collective tests at Circuit Paul Ricard. With a lap of 1:59.737s on his final run, the Australian led from the Italian and the fastest rookie of the day, Kush Maini (M2 Competition).
Under bright blue skies, the field on Friday enjoyed the warmest conditions since the introduction of the Formula Renault FR-19 at the beginning of the year.
Lorenzo Colombo quickly set the pace to dominate the majority of the morning session. His improvements allowed him to keep Oscar Piastri and Kush Maini at bay just until the premature end to the session caused by Patrick Schott (FA Racing by Drivex). With a time of 2:00.974s, Lorenzo Colombo led the way ahead of his two rivals with Caio Collet (R-ace GP) and Alexander Smolyar (R-ace GP) completing the top five.
The afternoon session was more competitive with a stout dual between Lorenzo Colombo and Oscar Piastri. While the Italian driver had the early advantage, becoming the first to improve upon the morning’s best time, then going on to be the first to break the two-minute barrier, Oscar Piastri went quicker with a lap of 1:59.737s as the chequered flag waved. Kush Maini was, once again, third best and was followed by Victor Martins (MP Motorsport) and Alexander Smolyar.
Tomorrow, the first qualifying session will begin at 10:00 local time. Race one of the weekend will start at 15:50.
Oscar Piastri (R-ace GP): “We finished the tests in the position we wanted to be in. I didn’t know Lorenzo’s time. I made a mistake earlier on and it took me a few laps to get back on pace. I just focused on doing my job and that was enough! I set my best time in the final minutes, but the car was good throughout the session thanks to the team. Hopefully we can continue like this for the rest of the weekend, because we were unlucky in qualifying in Monaco. The pace was there and it is good to be able to show it again.”
Lorenzo Colombo (MP Motorsport): “I needed to have a day like this, because I have been a bit off the pace since Monza. Today, I felt strong and the team was really competitive. However, we must now focus on qualifying, which is the most important session of the weekend. Our race pace is good, but we have to find a little more on one lap. The team and I know that we have to do better and that R-ace GP was very fast at Silverstone and Monaco, but I think that we can fight with them this weekend.”
Kush Maini (M2 Competition): “This is my first race weekend at Circuit Paul Ricard and honestly I am not afraid after Monaco! We were a bit disappointed last weekend, because the pace was there but I touched the wall in qualifying. It was a shame looking back at how well we did in free-practice, but I am really happy to be at the front straightaway today. These two sessions have given us a good baseline and we will analyse the data tonight to be sure to do it again tomorrow morning. All the corners are important, but the long corners in sector three are crucial because you can lose a lot of time there!”