It’s all change this year in the Formula Renault 3.5 series, with the top three from 2013, Kevin Magnussen, Stoffel Vandoorne and Antonio Felix da Costa amongst the drivers all departing to pastures new. 2014 will see no fewer than eight drivers making their debuts in the Formula Renault 3.5 series. Lets take a closer look at those debutants and where they plied their trade in 2013.
Pierre Gasly – France – Arden Motorsport
The Frenchman rises from the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series as 2013 champion, fighting to the very end to defeat Oliver Rowland in a closely fought season. Has joined Arden for 2014, and with the backing of Red Bull to boot. With that support from the drinks company, his expectations will have risen, and the pressure will be considerably more from the outside. Has a strong team-mate in the form of Northern Irish racer William Buller, and both will want to come out on top of what could be close between the pair of them.
Luca Ghiotto – Italy – International Draco Racing
A graduate from the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series from last year when he finished ninth, winning once in Spa-Francorchamps. Joins International Draco Racing that won twice in the series in 2013 with Nico Muller, but Ghiotto’s aims must be to adapt quickly to the series and fight for points on a regular basis. Has a second year driver in the form of Pietro Fantin as team-mate, and the Italian will hope to be able to compete at or near the level of the Brazilian.
Roman Mavlanov – Russia – Zeta Corse
The Russian driver graduates from racing in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, Formula Renault 2.0 NEC and the International GT Open series in 2013. In his single seater series’ he had minimal success, scoring a solitary podium in NEC but failing to score a single point in Eurocup. Joins Zeta Corse for 2014, which have a history of hiring drivers with budget. He’ll need to prove to many that he has talent to match.
Roberto Merhi – Spain – Zeta Corse
The Spaniard is returning to single seaters after racing in the DTM series for the past couple of years as a Mercedes-backed driver. His best result ironically was in his final race last year when he finished second at Hockenheim. Joins Zeta Corse as team-mate to Roman Mavlanov, and should easily be the better driver within the team, having shone will in single seaters before, including when winning the 2011 Formula 3 Euro Series title.
Oliver Rowland – Great Britain – Fortec Motorsports
The British driver is highly rated by many and came close to winning the 2013 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 championship in the final event of the season. The Racing Steps Foundation backed driver has joined front running team Fortec this year, and should be at or near the front at pretty much every race. Has a strong team-mate in the form of Sergey Sirotkin, and the inter-team battle could be one of the talking points of the season.
Meindert van Buuren – Netherlands – Pons Racing
The young Dutchman moves from the Auto GP World Series where he raced in 2013 with the Manor MP Motorsport team. He finished ninth in the championship, scoring one podium, but also had one win taken away from him on a stupid ruling. Joins Pons Racing for 2014, and will be hoping to learn the cars as the season progresses. Has the ability to shock on occasion. The identity of his team-mate has yet to be announced at the time of going to press.
Matthieu Vaxiviere – France – Lotus
Another graduate from the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 championship, the Frenchman finished tenth in the series last year, winning both races at Aragon, and moves up to the bigger cars with the Lotus-badged Charouz Racing team. The nineteen-year-old has a second year driver in Marlon Stockinger as team-mate for 2014, and will hope to be competitive compared to the Philippines driver.
Beitske Visser – Netherlands – AVF
What a story this promises to be. Last year Visser was competing in the ADAC Formel Masters series in Germany, winning once and finishing eighth in the championship with Red Bull backing. Now without that support, Adrian Valles’ AV Formula team has signed her up, and she tested for them in both the 2.0 and 3.5 litre cars before choosing the bigger cars, and thus basically jumped up four or five categories in one go. Has a third year driver in the form of Zoel Amberg as a team-mate, and with the form he has showed in previous years, it is entirely possible that the Dutch girl could beat the Swiss guy in the championship.