Newcomer to the streets of the Principality, Victor Martins (R-ace GP) led the way in the sole collective tests for the Formula Renault Eurocup. With a lap of 1:31.524s, the French rookie of the Renault Sport Academy led from Max Defourny (MP Motorsport), who finished on the Monaco podium in 2016 and 2017, and Logan Sargeant (R-ace GP).
At 8am in the morning, the Formula Renault Eurocup had the honour of kicking off the race meeting with a 45-minute free practice session. On a track surface with limited grip, the drivers tried to gather a maximum amount of information for qualifying. Max Fewtrell (R-ace GP) set the first benchmark time, but the pace quickly picked up thanks to the rubber laid down on each lap.
Raúl Guzmán (Fortec Motorsports), Axel Matus (AVF by Adrián Vallés) and Yifei Ye (Josef Kaufmann Racing) took short turns atop the time sheet before Max Fewtrell and the MP Motorsport trio of Alex Peroni, Max Defourny and Christian Lundgaard answered in kind.
Max Fewtrell retook the advantage at the mid-way point of the session before the field made set-ups changes and switched to new Michelin tyres.
With 11 minutes remaining on the clock, Lorenzo Colombo (JD Motorsport) and Neil Verhagen (Tech 1 Racing) got the final sprint underway. Christian Lundgaard, Max Fewtrell and Max Defourny each took their turn at the top of the timing screen, but Max Fewtrell kissed the Armco at Piscine while Alex Peroni made contact with the barrier at Sainte-Devote. The red flag came out three minutes from the conclusion of the session. The drivers went back out to put in practice starts.
Thanks to his lap of 1:31.524s, Victor Martins finished at the sharp end of the order ahead of, Max Fewtrell, whose best time was not counted for not using the escape lane after making contact.
Max Defourny. Logan Sargeant (R-ace GP), Yifei Ye and Alex Peroni completed the top five, followed by Red Bull Junior Team driver Neil Verhagen, Max Fewtrell, Oscar Piastri (Arden Motorsport), Richard Verschoor (Josef Kaufmann Racing) and Charles Milesi (R-ace GP).
The Formula Renault Eurocup will be back in action Friday morning from 7:55 for the one qualifying session of the weekend where they will have 30 minutes per group.
Victor Martins (R-ace GP): “It is great to begin the weekend like this! This circuit is difficult to tackle. You have to go step by step while avoiding falling into a false rhythm. The most important thing today was to quickly gain time before picking up tenths of a second here and there. The track was a little slippery early in the session, but it wasn’t insurmountable. I hope I can do it again tomorrow, on Saturday and Sunday, but I know it will be another matter in qualifying! "
Max Defourny (MP Motorsport): “It is always fantastic to drive in the streets of Monaco with this one of a kind atmosphere. We have to get up early and drive across town in our race cars to make it to the pitlane! As always, there was a lot of traffic with 28 cars on track for the free practice. It will be different for qualifying and we can also make a few changes to improve for tomorrow. My goal will be the pole!”
Alex Peroni (MP Motorsport): “Overall, it was a positive session. It would be stupid to focus only on the accident. I was going faster and faster and we had the pace to be among the fastest, but I pushed a bit too much in turn one. It is always a shame to make a mistake, but to be fast you have to test the limits. I will learn from this error and come back stronger tomorrow.”
Max Fewtrell (R-ace GP): “I am really pleased with how the session went. We measured our efforts and our risk taking. For sure, it is a shame to have made contact with the wall, but now I know where the limits are! While I didn’t finish on top, the pace was there. I have learned a lot since last year and I feel a lot more confident at this circuit. I will take on qualifying in the same manner.”
Oscar Piastri (Arden Motorsport): “This is a very, very cool track! I think I have found my new favorite circuit! For my first laps on a street track, I tried to avoid the wall. It is important if you want to string the laps together, pick up pace and improve times. The red flag came at an inopportune time, but I am sure a lot of drivers are saying the same thing! I stille have a bit of pace coming. Although I always aim for the pole, a top five in my first go in qualifying in Monaco would be a positive result!”