Albert Costa (Photo Credit: Renault Sport)

Albert Costa (Photo Credit: Renault Sport)

Albert Costa shone on home soil to top both of Friday's free practice sessions in Catalunya.

The Spaniard set the quickest time in the morning session with a 1:34.437s to pip Walter Grubmuller by 0.144secs.

His subsequent time of 1:34.268 in the afternoon session was also enough to retain top spot as he just edged out impressive newcomer Nick Yelloly by 0.153 secs.

Costa, who had severe budget concerns prior to his home event, also benefitted from an extra set of tyres which are allocated for his team's home event.

The Epic Racing driver said: “First this morning and first this afternoon: that's the first time I've managed that in Formula Renault 3.5 Series. I've been thinking about nothing else than this weekend for the last two weeks.

“I need a win and I want to finish third in the championship, which would be important for my future. The easiest way to avoid getting caught up in the battle between Wickens and Vergne is to finish ahead of them.”

Speaking of the two title contenders, they had a rather low-key opening to this very important weekend.

Wickens was sixth quickest in the first collective test before improving up the order to third in the second session, just shy of the impressive Costa.

However, he will be pleased to have set the early pace over championship challenger Vergne, who could only manage 12th and 11th over the two sessions.

Wickens, who has a two point advantage over team mate Vergne, said: “The key this weekend is not to change things and just carry on as usual. It's when you make changes that you make mistakes. I'm happy with my season no matter what happens now. 

“Carlin have always given us fantastic equipment and I know they'll be doing everything they can again this weekend to prepare two perfect cars for us.”

 

Collective Test One
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
 1.  Albert Costa       Epic             1m34.437s
 2.  Walter Grubmuller  P1               1m34.581s  + 0.144s
 3.  Alexander Rossi    Fortec           1m34.592s  + 0.155s
 4.  Nathanael Berthon  ISR              1m34.640s  + 0.203s
 5.  Daniil Move        P1               1m34.797s  + 0.360s
 6.  Robert Wickens     Carlin           1m34.862s  + 0.425s
 7.  Fairuz Fauzy       Mofaz            1m35.243s  + 0.806s
 8.  Sergio Canamasas   BVM Target       1m35.272s  + 0.835s
 9.  Nick Yelloly       Pons             1m35.360s  + 0.923s
10.  Oliver Webb        Pons             1m35.403s  + 0.966s
11.  Daniel Zampieri    BVM Target       1m35.432s  + 0.995s
12.  Jean-Eric Vergne   Carlin           1m35.433s  + 0.996s
13.  Jake Rosenzweig    Mofaz            1m35.484s  + 1.047s
14.  Stephane Richelmi  Draco            1m35.560s  + 1.123s
15.  Brendon Hartley    Gravity-Charouz  1m35.590s  + 1.153s
16.  Nelson Panciatici  KMP              1m35.626s  + 1.189s
17.  Jan Charouz        Gravity-Charouz  1m35.646s  + 1.209s
18.  Kevin Korjus       Tech 1           1m35.678s  + 1.241s
19.  Cesar Ramos        Fortec           1m35.738s  + 1.301s
20.  Daniel McKenzie    Comtec           1m35.942s  + 1.505s
21.  Anton Nebylitskiy  KMP              1m35.999s  + 1.562s
22.  Sten Pentus        Epic             1m36.433s  + 1.996s
23.  Adrien Tambay      Draco            1m36.447s  + 2.010s
24.  Arthur Pic         Tech 1           1m36.642s  + 2.205s
25.  Daniel de Jong     Comtec           1m36.645s  + 2.208s
 
Collective Test Two
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
 1.  Albert Costa       Epic             1m34.268s
 2.  Nick Yelloly       Pons             1m34.421s  + 0.153s
 3.  Robert Wickens     Carlin           1m34.462s  + 0.194s
 4.  Anton Nebylitskiy  KMP              1m34.502s  + 0.234s
 5.  Walter Grubmuller  P1               1m34.678s  + 0.410s
 6.  Daniel Zampieri    BVM Target       1m34.804s  + 0.536s
 7.  Brendon Hartley    Gravity-Charouz  1m34.899s  + 0.631s
 8.  Sergio Canamasas   BVM Target       1m34.996s  + 0.728s
 9.  Oliver Webb        Pons             1m35.000s  + 0.732s
10.  Daniil Move        P1               1m35.096s  + 0.828s
11.  Jean-Eric Vergne   Carlin           1m35.097s  + 0.829s
12.  Nelson Panciatici  KMP              1m35.185s  + 0.917s
13.  Nathanael Berthon  ISR              1m35.283s  + 1.015s
14.  Alexander Rossi    Fortec           1m35.342s  + 1.074s
15.  Kevin Korjus       Tech 1           1m35.347s  + 1.079s
16.  Stephane Richelmi  Draco            1m35.472s  + 1.204s
17.  Arthur Pic         Tech 1           1m35.473s  + 1.205s
18.  Sten Pentus        Epic             1m35.490s  + 1.222s
19.  Adrien Tambay      Draco            1m35.609s  + 1.341s
20.  Jake Rosenzweig    Mofaz            1m35.813s  + 1.545s
21.  Cesar Ramos        Fortec           1m35.819s  + 1.551s
22.  Jan Charouz        Gravity-Charouz  1m36.101s  + 1.833s
23.  Fairuz Fauzy       Mofaz            1m36.356s  + 2.088s
24.  Daniel de Jong     Comtec           1m36.469s  + 2.201s
25.  Daniel McKenzie    Comtec           1m37.209s  + 2.941s