Following his integration into the Ferrari Driver Academy, Robert Shwartzman set best time in the Formula Renault Eurocup collective tests at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. With a lap of 1:42.558, the Russian lead from general classification leader, Sacha Fenestraz (Josef Kaufmann Racing) and Gabriel Aubry (Tech 1 Racing). Renault Sport Academy driver Max Fewtrell (Tech 1 Racing) was fourth overall and fastest among the rookies.
Fenestraz ahead of Palmer
After a two-hour fog delay, the collective tests were run in hot and sunny conditions. The R-ace GP drivers led the way before Sacha Fenestraz answered back. The Frenchman improved his best time twice before the premature interruption of the session caused by Yifei Ye (Josef Kaufmann Racing).
Thanks to his lap of 1:43.849, Sacha Fenestraz led from his last remaining rival for the title, Will Palmer (R-ace GP). Rookies Richard Verschoor (MP Motorsport) and Max Fewtrell (Tech 1 Racing) were among to the top five as was Max Defourny (R-ace GP).
Shwartzman takes control
Due to the weather conditions this morning, collective test 2 was transformed into a free-practice session. Consequently, if the first qualifying session, now scheduled tomorrow at 9:30am, has to be cancelled for any reason, the results of the free practice will determine the starting grid for the opening race of the weekend.
The drivers then adopted their strategies accordingly. Thomas Neubauer (Tech 1 Racing), Frank Bird (Fortec Motorsports), Alexey Korneev (Fortec Motorsports), Alex Peroni (Fortec Motorsports) and Daniel Ticktum (Arden Motorsport) all took turns at the top of the time sheet until Max Defourny, Sacha Fenestraz, Robert Shwartzman and Will Palmer took over.
The final sprint began 12-minutes from the chequered flag. Will Palmer was the first to improve his time, but he was imitated by Robert Shwartzman and Sacha Fenestraz. Robert Shwartzman came out on top with a best time of 1:42.558 to lead the way ahead of Sacha Fenestraz and Gabriel Aubry. Max Fewtrell was fourth and best among the rookies in finishing ahead of Will Palmer.
Robert Shwartzman (R-ace GP): “The restart was a little tricky, because I had to erase my reflexes following my tests in F3. We did a good job in analysing the mistakes I made to attack hard at the end of the day. It is a good result if qualifying doesn’t happen tomorrow. The set-ups were fantastic and the car was very stable. In any case, I will do my best to finish the season on a high note. I have had a lot of fun in the Formula Renault Eurocup. There are a lot of positives and a few negatives, but it is still an excellent school. No matter where we finish in the general classification, the learning process has been the most important thing. The more you learn, the better you get and I have learned a lot with my team. A huge thank you to everyone surrounding me, as well as those working at Renault Sport!”
“I have had a lot of fun in the Formula Renault Eurocup. There are a lot of positives and a few negatives, but it is still an excellent school. No matter where we finish in the general classification, the learning process has been the most important thing. The more you learn, the better you get and I have learned a lot with my team. A huge thank you to everyone supporting me, as well as those working at Renault!”
Sacha Fenestraz (Josef Kaufmann Racing): “Both the track and car were difficult to grasp, but we did a good job to move up to the top spot. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting it! With the fog delays, everything was pushed back and the final session of the day could determine the starting grid. That will give more importance than usual to the tests. We all used two sets of new tyres. Throughout the session, Shwartzman was slightly faster than me, but the goal was reached. If qualifying is cancelled, we will be P2 on the grid, three places in front of Will. It is an ideal scenario, even though I will have to then be intelligent in the race to score a maximum number of points to clinch the title.”
Will Palmer (R-ace GP): “The day went well, but it could have ended better. In the first session, we were the quickest on used tyres. It was a promising beginning as we were also the fastest with the first set of fresh rubber during the second session. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do the same with the second set and I dropped down a few positions. I hope there won’t be too much fog tomorrow. In any case, I need to do my best. I have no control over what Sacha does and I need to aim for the win !”