Seven meetings and a whole lot more in 2013
In reward for his success, the Dutchman will carry out a day’s testing with Red Bull Racing at the Abu Dhabi young drivers’ test in November. On the day when their man Jules Bianchi missed out on the title, Tech 1 Racing earned some consolation by landing their fourth team crown.
A rain-affected final qualifying session of the year proved harder to predict than usual, with Mikhail Aleshin reminding everyone what he can do by taking pole position in front of Arthur Pic (Dams), Antonio Felix da Costa and points-leader Robin Frijns, whose only objective was to finish ahead Jules Bianchi (Tech 1 Racing) and convert his narrow four-point lead into another title. Sixth in qualifying, the Frenchman lined up on the third row.
Though a shower hit the Catalunya track before the start, the sun soon returned, prompting the field to stick with their slicks. Antonio Felix da Costa was quickest out of the blocks, sprinting into an early lead from Mikhail Aleshin, Robin Frijns, Arthur Pic and Jules Bianchi. Starting from 16th, Sam Bird (ISR) was in among the points after just two laps.
As Antonio Felix da Costa made his escape, Mikhail Aleshin kept Robin Frijns, Arthur Pic, Jules Bianchi and Aaro Vainio at bay. That is how the race order remained through to the compulsory pitstop, the Portuguese extending his lead over the five-car train.
Robin Frijns and Jules Bianchi were the first to stop. They emerged from the pitlane bumper to bumper, the championship-leading Dutchman lying fourth, just in front of his title foe, with Mikhail Aleshin and Aaro Vainio up ahead of them and Kevin Magnussen (Carlin) and Sam Bird just behind.
Race leader Antonio Felix da Costa was uncatchable up front and cruised home for his fourth win of the campaign, more than any other driver in the field. To his rear, the Team RFR twosome fought it out for second, while Robin Frijns and Jules Bianchi were locked in an even tenser tussle, one eventually joined by Kevin Magnussen as the race neared its end.
On lap 20 Jules Bianchi barged past Robin Frijns only for the Dutchman to repass on the very next turn. The two then came together, with the Frenchman ending in the gravel trap, his title challenge in tatters, leaving the sixth-placed Robin Frijns to coast home and add the 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 Series title to the Formula BMW and Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 championships he won in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
What they said:
Antonio Felix da Costa: “It’s been a perfect weekend. Unlike the rest we went out on brand new tyres and that helped me widen the gap. After a good season in GP3 Series, which gave me the chance to break into the Red Bull Junior Team, I’ve worked really well with Arden Caterham. My main objective is the Macau F3 Grand Prix, though I really hope to be in Formula Renault 3.5 Series next season.”
Mikhail Aleshin: “Getting two men on the podium is a great way for Team RFR to wind things up. Antonio was on a different planet but the battle with Aaro Vainio as a very sporting one.”
Robin Frijns: “As for the race, Jules Bianchi overtook me and I did everything I could to repass him as quickly as possible. There was contact between the two of us, and I just thought it was your average racing incident. I’m the first rookie since Robert Kubica to win the championship, and we’ve got here thanks to the fantastic work we’ve done with Fortec Motorsports since the winter tests. My objective now is Formula One, starting with the tests with Red Bull Racing and Sauber. Nothing gets given to you in this world and nothing is easy, even when you win three titles on the bounce. We’re working on it though.”
World Series by Renault turns nine in 2013, and the calendar for the year will feature seven meetings, all organised by Renault Sport Technologies, including a first visit for World Series by Renault to Austria and the Red Bull Ring. Also on the schedule are three European Le Mans Series events, while Formula Renault 3.5 Series will make stop-offs at Monza and Monaco, where it will provide the warm-up act for the most prestigious Formula One Grand Prix of the season. Not to be outdone, Eurocup Clio has also been given additional slots at Imola and Navarra.
Seven meetings and a whole lot more in 2013
As is now the tradition, the forthcoming World Series by Renault season will get under way at Motorland Aragon in late April, by which time the battle for the Formula Renault 3.5 Series will have already commenced at Monza, the home of motorsport, on the first weekend of the month.
Formula Renault 3.5 Series has another key date to keep at the end of May when it decamps to Monaco for the Formula One Grand Prix weekend, giving the drivers another opportunity to test their skills on the principality’s streets, with the movers and shakers of F1 looking on.
The four World Series by Renault categories will reconvene in early June at Spa-Francorchamps, before heading east to Russia’s Moscow Raceway and swinging back west for their very first get-together at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. The first stop after the midsummer break is Hungary, with the season then coming to a close with the Paul Ricard meeting in France and the big finale at Spain’s Catalunya circuit.
Making its first appearance on the World Series by Renault calendar in 2013 is endurance racing, with the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) booked to appear at the Red Bull Ring, Hungaroring and Paul Ricard meetings.
And like Formula Renault 3.5 Series, Eurocup Clio has also been given two additional dates. The all-new Clio Cup will enjoy its first competitive outing at Imola in Italy in the middle of May. Also on the World Series by Renault bill at Spa-Francorchamps, the Red Bull Ring, Paul Ricard and Catalunya, Eurocup Clio will reach its climax in November at Navarra, where competitors from all the national Clio Cup championships will come together for a season-ending race.
“Once again we’ve put together a varied calendar, structured around Formula One circuits and key markets for the Renault brand,” commented Jean-Pascal Dauce, Director of Motorsport Renault Sport Technologies. “It was vital for us to avoid clashing with an F1 Grand Prix weekend, aside from Monaco of course. The chance to host three ELMS race weekends is also a big first for us. It’s going to bring more variety to the line-up and a touch of enduro to our meetings, which always goes down well with the fans.”
2013 World Series by Renault calendar
- 27-28 April: Motorland Aragon (FR 3.5 Series, Eurocup FR 2.0, Eurocup Megane Trophy)
- 1-2 June: Spa-Francorchamps (FR 3.5 Series, Eurocup FR 2.0, Eurocup Megane Trophy, Eurocup Clio)
- 22-23 June: Moscow Raceway (FR 3.5 Series, Eurocup FR 2.0, Eurocup Megane Trophy)
- 20-21 July: Red Bull Ring (FR 3.5 Series, Eurocup FR 2.0, Eurocup Megane Trophy, Eurocup Clio, ELMS)
- 14-15 September: Hungaroring (FR 3.5 Series, Eurocup FR 2.0, Eurocup Megane Trophy, ELMS)
- 28-29 September: Paul Ricard (FR 3.5 Series, Eurocup FR 2.0, Eurocup Megane Trophy, Eurocup Clio, ELMS)
- 19-20 October: Catalunya (FR 3.5 Series, Eurocup FR 2.0, Eurocup Megane Trophy, Eurocup Clio)
Formula Renault 3.5 Series only:
- 6-7 April: Monza (Superstars Series)
- 25-26 May: Monaco Formula One Grand Prix
Eurocup Clio only:
- 11-12 May: Imola (Formula Renault Alps and Renault Clio Cup Italy)
- 2-3 November: Navarra (International Clio Cup, final round)
Pic ends 2012 season with spirited performance at Circuit de Catalunya
Arthur Pic concluded the 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 season with a fighting comeback drive to sixth and an impressive wet weather qualifying effort at Circuit de Catalunya (October 20/21).
Better known for blue skies and sunshine, the Catalan venue experienced heavy rain during Friday’s opening practice session when Pic was comfortably amongst the top-10, despite not running on new tyres. That left the DAMS driver and his engineers thrilled with the progress made at last month’s Paul Ricard event where significant effort went into wet weather set-ups.
But with the track dry for the afternoon session the Frenchman would encounter problems on fresh rubber. “We tried to understand what the issue was and came up with a few ideas,” said Pic. “We weren’t feeling too confident in dry conditions but at least we had some potential solutions.”
Saturday morning’s first qualifying was punctuated by several red flags which made a clear lap difficult to come by for the 21-year-old. “In addition to this,” added Pic, “our garage is at the far end of the pit-lane, so we always join the track last and thus lose a lap.” Securing 11th on the grid, the DAMS pilot took the chequered flag in the same position after a close-fought scrap over ninth spot. “We all had more or less equal speed on the main straight and were hitting the rev limiter at the same place,” explained Pic afterwards.
Dark skies welcomed the drivers on Sunday morning and rain soon began to fall on the Spanish venue. This gave Pic and his team a chance to show just how much progress they have made in wet conditions as he delivered a stellar lap to secure a spot on the front-row of the grid, missing pole by just a tenth of a second. “We were the only ones to improve our time on the second set of tyres,” said a delighted Pic following his lap. “Along with the two pole positions I took in Aragon, this was my best qualifying of the year.”
Though the circuit had dried again in time for the afternoon’s race Pic remained confident of a strong result. He slipped from second to fourth at the start but stayed in close contact with third placed Robin Frijns, only to lose ground during the pit-stop phase.
Pic then went on the offensive, scything past both Will Stevens and Sam Bird before overhauling series champion Frijns late in the race to seal P6. “It’s always frustrating to start second and finish sixth,” he lamented, though the race did give the Frenchman a final chance to demonstrate his overtaking prowess.
Having cemented eighth spot in the Formula Renault 3.5 standings, Pic will now lend his experience to series newcomers AV Formula. Managed by his friend and fellow countryman, respected race engineer Philippe Gautheron, Pic will pilot the new squad’s car during this week’s two-day test at Circuit de Catalunya (23/24 October).
“Overall this season his been a touch disappointing,” concluded Pic. “If I had scored points at the end of each qualifying session, I would be much higher up the standings! I must continue to improve in the races as I look to progress further in 2013.”
DAMS shows encouraging potential for 2013
The last World Series by Renault meeting of the season didn’t really satisfy the French team whose only reward was Arthur Pic’s sixth place on Sunday. However, the overall performance of the car/drivers/engineering team’s performance in its first year in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series has reassured the team, and it can look forward to 2013 with greater ambitions.
Arthur Pic could do no better than eleventh in the first qualifying session, which was broken up by a succession of red and yellow flags. Handicapped by the starting order on the track he was slowed on his fastest lap when a place in the top 5 looked well within his grasp. Much the same applies to Lucas Foresti who finished twentieth.
Arthur and DAMS had a frustrating first race. Pic lost a place at the start and then battled tooth and nail to fight his way back, but had problems overtaking even if his car was quick. Although he finished where he started, he felt he could have done better. Foresti drove a combative race in the middle of the field setting a good pace. Unfortunately, a small collision at the end led to his retirement.
DAMS showed its real potential on a very wet track in the second qualifying session rewarded by Pic’s second-quickest time. Sadly, he fluffed his start and lost places. The Frenchman, who was stuck behind Frijns, made a slight error and spun just before his pit stop. He rejoined outside the top ten and fought his way back up through the field to sixth place at the chequered flag. Foresti broke his transmission in a collision but his lap times in the race, which were not far off those of Pic, confirmed his improvement.
DAMS will stay at the Catalonian circuit this week to test in view of the coming season. It will assess new drivers Kevin Magnussen from Denmark and Russian Sergey Sirotkin on Tuesday 23rd October, and Brit Will Stevens and Mathias Laine from Finland the following day.
Jean-Paul Driot, CEO: “The season ended on a rather low-key note in terms of results, but with a lot of hope and ambition for next year. First of all, I’d like to congratulate and thank the whole team. It deserved a whole lot better on its first season in FR 3.5. The car was quick and Arthur confirmed this at least once with a victory. We now have to take advantage of this year’s experience to go into the 2013 season as title contenders.”
Arthur Pic: “First of all a big thanks to all my team. They gave me a quick car throughout the whole season and helped to score my first win in FR 3.5. We just lacked a little luck like this weekend. Today, I was as quick as Frijns but I didn’t manage to take advantage of it. Despite this, I feel confident and optimistic for next year.”
Lucas Foresti: “The season finished on a disappointing note for me with two retirements, but above all that didn’t reward all the team’s hard work, which has backed me during what has been a difficult year of apprenticeship. Thank you DAMS for having helped me to improve and to gather experience. I hope to continue in the same vein in 2013.”
Next tests: Barcelona 23-24 October and then again on 8-9 November rounded off by Motorland Aragon on 21-23 November.
Epic fight back on Sunday sees Alexander Rossi finish 5th from 21st
- Free Practice 1: P11 (Best Time: 1:53.258)
- Free Practice 2: P4 (Best Time: 1:31.019)
- Race 1 Qualifying: P5 (Best Time: 1:30.698))
- Race 1: P19 (+ Fastest Lap of the Race: 1:32.371)
- Race 2 Qualifying: P21 (Best Time: 1:54.897)
- Race 2: P5 (+ Fastest Lap of the Race: 1:32.347)
Alexander Rossi rounded off his season in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series with an incredible fight back on Sunday to finish fifth after starting 21st at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain with the Arden Caterham team. He also set the fastest lap of the race in both of the weekend’s races.
Both Friday practice sessions were fragmented affairs as drivers found themselves subject to numerous red flag periods. In free practice one Alexander ran as high as seventh, and ended the session P11 after completing 14 laps. In the second session, Alexander ran 25 laps, finishing fourth fastest, less than three tenths off the pace of session leader Kevin Magnussen.
Alexander was strong in Saturday qualifying, sitting second at the halfway point. In a session disrupted with red flags, he was denied the opportunity of the pole shoot out in the dying minutes when he was hit by Jake Rosenzweig, causing a puncture. He still however set the fifth fastest time of the session.
Problems getting off the line due to an unidentified electrical issue saw Alexander unable to start Saturday afternoon’s race, being pushed by marshals to pit lane. The car was restarted in pit lane, but Alexander fell back to 26th in the 29-lap race, 31 seconds behind the next car in front. He set about recovery and picked away at catching the field. Alexander caught the field mid-way through the race, overtaking seven cars by the penultimate lap and crossing the line in 19th position. He also set fastest lap of the race on lap four with a time of 1:32.371, which was thereafter never bettered.
Qualifying took place on a wet track on Sunday. In the early part of the session times tumbled as the track dried slightly however, after an early red flag period, the tyres did not work as well on a drying track. Alexander was shuffled down to 21st to line up on the 11th row for the afternoon race.
In the race, Alexander made a lightning start to gain four positions immediately and slot into 17th. By lap two he was up to 15th and then made his compulsory stop on lap five. After some slick pit work and great progress by Alex, he set the fastest lap of the race on lap eight, which was never bettered and, once the pitstops had played out, his speed had elevated him to eighth. He passed championship contender Sam Bird on lap 15 to take seventh. The action intensified up on lap 22 when Frijns and Bianchi clashed, putting Bianchi out of the race and causing Frijns to drop down the order, promoting Alexander to fifth place. He went in hot pursuit of Magnussen but ran out of laps, crossing the finish line in fifth.
Alexander Rossi: “It’s been a very challenging season on track for me. We’ve had some high points such as the podium in Monaco and have been able to demonstrate the potential we had in places like Silverstone and here on Sunday in Barcelona, along with several fastest laps. However for several reasons we haven’t been able to convert the potential into a string of solid results, despite the car being very good from Silverstone onward. It was a season with a lot of bad luck, but I learned many important aspects developing a race winning car with Arden Caterham. I look forward to turning things around in 2013 and getting back to regular podium finishes and wins.”
Julian Rouse, Arden Caterham Team Manager: “It’s been another frustrating weekend for Alexander in terms of the overall results, but again he’s done a fantastic job of working with the team and showing real speed and consistency throughout the weekend regardless of the conditions. Another two fastest laps in the races show that when Alexander has the opportunity he’s one of the best drivers out there at this level. There’s no denying it’s been a really challenging year but he’s done a fantastic job of pushing forward a new team in World Series and, with his input on and off track, he’s helped us to create one of the most competitive teams out there by the end of season.”