The 2018 Formula Renault Eurocup season officially got underway during the first day of the collective tests at Hockenheim. Yifei Ye (Josef Kaufmann Racing) led the way in both sessions and set a best time of 1:37.004s. The Chinese driver was followed by Renault Sport Academy rookie, Victor Martins (R-ace GP) and team mate Richard Verschoor (Josef Kaufmann Racing). In this first visit of the category to the circuit that will host the German Grand Prix since 2010, the reference time set by Kevin Korjus in 2010 was beaten by more than a second.
The eight teams and 28 drivers entered in the Formula Renault Eurocup began preparing their seasons at Hockenheim as did Formula Renault NEC entrant, Phil Hill (Anders Motorsport).
While Vladimir Tziortzis (Fortec Motorsports) was the first to head out on a slightly damp track, the pace increased when the drivers switched to slick tyres. Yifei Ye posted the fastest lap of 1:37.892s ahead of SMP Racing protégé, Alexander Vartanyan (Arden Motorsport), and rookies Logan Sargeant (R-ace GP) and Alexander Smolyar (Tech 1 Racing). Red Bull Junior Team member, Neil Verhagen (Tech 1 Racing) completed the top five.
In the afternoon, it wasn’t until the final 20 minutes that Oscar Piastri (Arden Motorsport) beat the morning benchmark time. Yifei Ye and Richard Verschoor did the same with the advantage going to the Chine driver. The highest placed rookie, Victor Martins split the two while Logan Sargeant and Alexander Vartanyan once again where among the top five.
Yifei Ye starts strong
Yifei Ye (Josef Kaufmann Racing): “I topped both sessions, so it was a good day! My driving style seems perfectly adapted to this circuit, on which I won two races last year in the NEC and Josef Kaufmann Racing gave me a perfect car today. I hope that we will maintain this dynamic tomorrow but also during the four other days of tests that are coming before the start of the season. There is very little in it for first place. This year, the competition level is once again very high, but I can rely on two talented team mates. I already saw what Richard Verschoor can do last year and Clément Novalak is doing a fantastic job as he has come from karting. We are in a strong position to fight for the two titles!”
Victor Martins on pace straight away
Victor Martins (R-ace GP): “This second place time bodes well for the season. We fixed the small problems we had in the morning before getting back on pace in the afternoon. I had never driven at Hockenheim before and the challenge today was learning the track, getting used to the car again and putting our preparation work into action. I feel comfortable at R-ace GP and I will be accompanied by Max Fewtrell, who is also a member of the Renault Sport Academy. I have a good feeling and my goal is to win the championship. It may seem difficult, but it lets me give everything I’ve got to reach it, because anything is possible with work!”
Two top 5 for Alexander Vartanyan
Alexander Vartanyan (Arden Motorsport): “We have been working flat-out preparing for this season. Our performance level is promising for the moment, because we are just 0.25s adrift of the leader with a decent amount of progress still to come. I really like my new team. Everything is going well with the engineers, the mechanics and my team mates Oscar Piastri and Sami Taoufik. The objective for my sophomore season is simply to win the Formula Renault Eurocup!”
Alex Peroni is back full of ambition
Alex Peroni (MP Motorsport): “It is good to be back with the Formula Renault Eurocup and I am particularly happy to have joined MP Motorsport. It is a great outfit and we hope to do great things together. It is exciting! Like everyone else, the goal is to win and I am heading into this season with more confidence than a year ago. I now know my level and know that I can win races since my victory at Pau. My team mates Christian Lundgaard and Max Defourny are good blokes and I think that together we can take the team to the top. I have a lot to learn from Max’s experience and Christian’s raw speed, so I can’t wait for the season to start!”