Formula Renault 3.5 Series: Da Costa fastest while DAMS pair impress
The Portuguese, a member of the Red Bull Junior Team, finished the day ahead of Norman Nato and Kevin Magnussen, despite the DAMS pair outpacing him in the morning session.
In perfect conditions, it was Kevin Magnussen, Antonio Félix da Costa and Stoffel Vandoorne who exchanged fastest times in the opening minutes. The session was soon interrupted, however, after Yann Cunha (AV Formula) went off at turn two.
After the restart, Marco Sorensen (Lotus) moved ahead of the championship-leading trio by setting the fastest time. But Antonio Félix da Costa soon hit back, before he too was outpaced by Mikhail Aleshin (Tech 1 Racing) and then Kevin Magnussen. DAMS driver Magnussen lapped in 1:21.314 to lead from team-mate Norman Nato, Antonio Felix da Costa, Stoffel Vandoorne and Mikhail Aleshin. The session was then cut short after Zoël Amberg (Pons Racing) prompted a reg flag.
The second session was also interrupted after Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin) went off the track. Arthur Pic (AV Formula) then went fastest, before being replaced by Marco Sorensen at the top of the timesheets. The Dane’s effort was later improved by Oliver Webb (Fortec Motorsports) at the session’s halfway point.
As the session entered its final 15 minutes, Antonio Felix da Costa snatched the fastest time. His lap of 1:21.097 proved unbeatable, and he edged out Norman Nato and Kevin Magnussen by one tenth of a second. Marlon Stockinger (Lotus) and Will Stevens (P1 by Strakka Racing) completed the top five, with 23 drivers in total finishing within a second of the fastest man.
What they said
Kevin Magnussen: “We’ve clearly got a good car for this track. I’m happy with the way it’s handling. I still don’t think we’ve seen anyone’s best form, though. Some of the drivers went with fresh tyres, while others didn’t. We’ll study the data so we can get a clearer idea.”
Antonio Félix da Costa: “It was a productive day for us. The DAMS team is looking very strong here with their two cars. The gap between us all is very small, so we’ll have to try to defy the traffic tomorrow and produce a perfect lap. If we get qualifying wrong here, it’ll be difficult to recover.”
Will Buller: “It’s my first experience of driving in Russia. The circuit is great. I’m finding my bearings in the team, and getting to grips with the car and all the different features I came across during winter testing. This is a big step up in terms of power and grip, compared with F3.