On the eve of the first official collective tests, the Formula Renault Eurocup field is shaping up with nearly 20 cars at Magny-Cours and an extremely competitive grid mixing fast sophomores and ambitious rookies.
Among the competitors already entered, four have past experience in the category, but the cards have been reshuffled this year with the introduction of the Formula Renault FR-19.
After taking the driver title last season with Max Fewtrell and its second teams’ crown in as many years, R-ace GP hopes to remain as the team to beat. To reach its target, the Thibaut de Mérindol and Cyril Comte led squad have brought on three promising talents.
Respectively 8th and 12th in their first Formula Renault campaign, Australian Oscar Piastri and SMP Racing protégé Alexander Smolyar from Russia have just one goal: to win the first title of their career. Winner of the Volant Winfield and the French F4 Championship in his first year in single-seaters, Brazilian Caio Collet completes the French team’s trio with the aim to confirm all the potential the Renault Sport Academy sees in him.
However, the competition looks to be fierce. After taking Christian Lundgaard to the rookie title, MP Motorsport has done a great job of recruiting two stars of the 2018 season to cross the last step from their first crowns in the Formula Renault Eurocup.
Fifth and sixth in their category debut, Victor Martins and Lorenzo Colombo are among the favourites this year. The French member of the Renault Sport Academy and the Italian are solely focused on the top spot, as is their new team who will also line-up Belgian Amaury Cordeel, with whom they won the 2018 Spanish Formula 4 Championship.
JD Motorsport hopes history repeats itself 19 years after they took Felipe Massa and his Tatuus to the title during the introduction of the single-spec format in the Formula Renault Eurocup! Following a return to the sharp end of the order last year, the Italian squad intends to keep the momentum going with most notably on Belgium’s Ugo de Wilde, runner-up in the French F4 Championship last year.
Despite just two years of experience in Formula Renault, Arden Motorsport has already enjoyed some success in taking Daniel Ticktum to victory and Oscar Piastri to the podium. This year, the Brits want to do better with Patrik Pasma, who took third in the MRF Challenge this winter. It is still not known who will team up with the Finn, but Sebastián Fernández and Frank Bird will be by his side during the first pre-season tests this week at Magny-Cours.
New fresh and ambitious teams are also about to make their debut with a strong desire to win in one of the most competitive feeder series in the world.
Headed by Fernando Alonso and Pedro de la Rosa, FA Racing by Drivex has been one of the most observed teams since its entry in the Formula Renault Eurocup. For its first go in the category, the two-time F1 World Champion with Renault will provide all his savoir-faire to fellow Spaniard Brad Benavides, who is coming over from karting, and Switzerland’s Patrick Schott, fifth last season in the Spanish F4 Championship.
Jonathan and Élise Moury won everything in New Zealand and are now coming to Europe to expand their M2 Competition team’s activities. Based in Belgium, the team has chosen to go with India’s Kush Maini, third in the BRDC Formula 3 Championship, and André Lotterer protégé Esteban Muth from Belgium, who was a front-runner in the French F4 Championship and a title contender in the Toyota Racing Series. At Magny-Cours, American Cameron Das will be in the team’s third car.
BhaiTech Racing is also moving up to the next level after several strong years in the Italian F4 Championship. For the first year in Formula Renault, the Bada brothers run team will line-up the Czech Petr Ptáček and Italian Federico Malvestiti. They finished fifth and sixth respectively last year in Italy.
Those on hand at Magny-Cours will have 20 hours of track time over three days of testing to get used to their new cars. The competitors will then continue their preparation on tracks found on the calendar, where new drivers are expected to appear and push the number of entries for the season well over 20.
Benoît Nogier, Renault Sport Racing Commercial Racing Director: “Since the shakedown conducted in early February, the entered teams and Renault Sport Racing have worked flat-out to establish the most competitive field possible. The results are there with nearly 20 cars for the first collective tests of the year. By the second week of tests at Circuit Paul Ricard, this figure will tend towards our goal of having 22 to 24 cars start at the first race. This represents a first success for the new era of Formula Renault, which has easily reached the necessary threshold of competitors to obtain points for the Superlicence. We are therefore eager to find a large part of these F1 hopefuls to kick-off the season at the Circuit Nevers Magny-Cours tomorrow!”
|Pre-season collective tests|
|March 5-7||Circuit Nevers Magny-Cours, France|
|March 15-16||Circuit Paul Ricard, France|
|April 2-3||Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain|
|April 12-14||Autodromo di Monza, Italy¹|
|May 10-12||Silverstone, United Kingdom¹|
|May 31-June 2||Circuit Paul Ricard, France|
|July 25-27||Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium¹|
|August 30-September 1||Nürburgring, Germany¹|
|September 6-8||Hungaroring, Hungary¹|
|September 27-29||Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain|
|October 4-6||Hockenheimring, Germany|
|October 24-26||Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi|
¹ Pre-event test day scheduled