Victor Martins (MP Motorsport) posted a best time of 1:41.544s at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya to beat the track record he set during the final qualifying session in 2018. The Renault Sport Academy was fastest in both collective tests of the day to lead from Oscar Piastri (R-ace GP), Lorenzo Colombo (MP Motorsport) as well as rookies Caio Collet (R-ace GP) and Petr Ptáček (BhaiTech Racing).
On the penultimate day of the pre-season collective tests, the field continued to increase with the presence of 22 Formula Renault FR-19s in Catalunya.
The R-ace GP entries led early before being dislodged by Lorenzo Colombo and Victor Martins. The Frenchman moved to the top of the timing screen early in hour two, then improved to 1:42.014s with eight minutes remaining in the session to hold on to the top spot ahead of his team mate and Oscar Piastri, while Caio Collet and Petr Ptáček rounded out the top five.
In the afternoon, João Vieira (JD Motorsport), Alexander Smolyar and Victor Martins took turns leading the way before Oscar Piastri picked up the pace in the final half-hour. Victor Martins lowered the track record to 1:41.544s just before the incident of Brad Benavides (FA Racing by Drivex) ended the session prematurely. The Renault Sport Academy driver was followed by Oscar Piastri, Petr Ptáček, Alexander Smolyar and Ugo de Wilde (JD Motorsport).
The drivers then made their way to the start grid to assure a good visibility of the lights with the presence of the halo and put in start simulations prior to the final day of pre-season collective tests on Wednesday.
Martins doubles up
Victor Martins (MP Motorsport): “It was another extremely productive day. We were on pace this morning, which let us continue our programme as planned. We have to continue like this, because it is the best way to reach our long-term objectives. We are still not focusing on times, but we know are headed in the right direction. We are also lucky to have the feedback from Lorenzo Colombo. Having such an experienced team mate is a real asset and I am sure we will push each other up for the team’s greater good.”
A winning return for O’Keeffe?
Callan O’Keeffe (FA Racing by Drivex): “It’s a bit unexpected to be back in the Formula Renault Eurocup, but it feels great! This first day was really positive, especially as the team finished putting the car together last night. We spent the morning shaking the car down and we were on pace straight away. It gives me a lot of confidence about our potential. However, the level is still extremely high with some excellent drivers on the grid and this car is perhaps the most difficult I have driven in my career. It is really hard to be on the limit! Of course, we will not know exactly where we are before the qualifying at Monza, but we have an extremely motivated team supported by Fernando Alonso. It is a really fantastic opportunity that I intend to maximize as much as I can!"
Cordeel and Vieira learning their way
Amaury Cordeel (MP Motorsport): “I’m learning a lot, but I have had a lot of ups and downs in my preparation until now. The feeling was positive at Magny-Cours, but I struggled more at Castellet. In any case, I know that I can count on the support of my team, which was one of the best in the category last year. They took me to the title in the Spanish F4 Championship, so I am thrilled to continue with them and my goal will be to be the top rookie… Or better!”
João Vieira (JD Motorsport): “To be honest, I’m still struggling as I discover new feelings I still have to get used to with this car. I know that I am improving, but I can only compare myself to my team mates. We still have a lot of work to do, but I’m hopeful that I can take it to the next level for the first meeting of the season at Monza. It’s a track that I know well, so I hope to have total confidence in the car by then!"