The 50th season in the history of Formula Renault officially got underway today at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia. With a best time of 1:29.279s, Victor Martins permitted ART Grand Prix to end its first day in the category on top, ahead of Lorenzo Colombo (Bhaitech Racing) and rookie Paul Aron (ART Grand Prix).
The field came together Wednesday for the first time this year with nine teams and 25 drivers on track, an unprecedented number at this level of the pyramid, ready to discover or rediscover the Formula Renault FR-19 with its new developments.
Alex Quinn (MP Motorsport) was the first on track, but the times quickly improved. In the opening session, Lorenzo Colombo edged Michael Belov (M2 Competition) for the top spot, but the Italian driver saw his benchmark time beaten by Victor Martins in the second session in which the red flag waved on two occasions.
In the afternoon, Michael Belov once again lead the way only to be bested by Lorenzo Colombo’s lap of 1:29.722s. In the final session, Victor Martins re-took command in 1:29.279s to lead from Lorenzo Colombo, Paul Aron, Caio Collet (R-ace GP) and Grégoire Saucy (ART Grand Prix) at the end of the first day of the collective tests.
ART Grand Prix doubles up
Victor Martins (ART Grand Prix): “Today represents an excellent start to the season for the team and myself. I have chosen to take on a great challenge with ART Grand Prix. I have to get to know the team as fast as possible for us to create a very productive working environment and mutual confidence. Everything has gone very well so far and I hope we can keep the momentum going tomorrow at Valencia, then this weekend at Barcelona.”
Paul Aron (ART Grand Prix): “It was a positive day and props to the team for this car that is better set up than I could have asked for! I struggled to focus on my driving early on before getting it sorted from one session to the other and the last one was particularly good on new tyres. I think we have a lot of room to improve as I put in my best lap shortly after the peak in tyre performance while also having to deal with traffic. The goal tomorrow, and throughout the season, will be to do my best in the car to be in the top three and to be as close as possible to Victor. I have no doubt he will be one of my main rivals this year!”
Lorenzo Colombo on top in two sessions
Lorenzo Colombo (Bhaitech Racing): “It feels good to be back behind the wheel of a Formula Renault for the first time since the weekend in Abu Dhabi last October… I must say that the engine developments make the car nicer to drive! I already feel comfortable with Bhaitech Racing. I will help them improve their car as much as possible before the first race of the season. We started from a good base on this circuit that everyone was discovering and I feel this team has enormous potential. I hope we can continue this progress, but I’m quite positive.”
Double top three for two other rookies
Michael Belov (M2 Competition): “This first day was relatively positive, but we will work twice as hard tomorrow. Compared to the rookie tests, the engine is more powerful, especially at slow speeds. I had a great time, but I need to work more on my driving, which is the veritable key to success in our sport. I got settled in quite easily at M2 Competition and have formed a good relationship with my engineer. I also would like to thank SMP Racing for offering me the opportunity to do these tests with them. After the two second best times today, the goal will be to do better tomorrow!”
William Alatalo (JD Motorsport): “I am delighted with my first day of official tests, but we, like everyone else, have to continue to work on the car and on myself to be as ready as possible at the first race. I like this circuit, the car is nice to drive and the team is great. I am really looking forward to attacking the season to aim for the rookie of the year title and why not the top three in the general classification as I never back down from a challenge!”