2016 Formula Renault 2.0 Review – Norris does the double


Lando Norris was often the man to beat in Formula Renault 2.0 in 2016 - Credit: Gregory Lenormand / DPPI

Lando Norris secured a double Formula Renault 2.0 championship triumph in 2016 as he took the honours in both the Eurocup and Northern European Cup, in a year the Briton continued his tremendous rise through the motorsport ranks.

The Briton ran a dual campaign in both championships with Josef Kaufmann Racing, and took five victories in Eurocup and six in NEC on his way to the double title to add to his 2015 MSA Formula crown and his Toyota Racing Series title from the beginning of the year in New Zealand.

Lando Norris was the man to beat in both FR2.0 championships in 2016 - Credit: Clement Luck / DPPI
Lando Norris was the man to beat in both FR2.0 championships in 2016 – Credit: Clement Luck / DPPI

Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0

Max Defourny started the year with a victory at Motorland Aragon, and often throughout the year he found himself battling for the same piece of tarmac as Norris, but whereas Norris took five victories, the Belgian was unable to add to his Aragon victory throughout the season.

Norris finished second in that opening race in Spain, but the Briton left Aragon with the championship lead after taking victories in both races two and three.

The championship then made its debut around the streets of Monte Carlo, but the race was held in tricky conditions. Norris originally qualified on pole position but was excluded from the session and as a result was forced to start from the back of the field, allowing Sacha Fenestraz to take a maiden victory ahead of Ferdinand Habsburg and Defourny, although the Tech 1 Racing driver only took home half points after just a handful of laps were possible due to the conditions.

Norris was back to winning ways in race one at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, with Dorian Boccolacci and Harrison Scott both taking their first victories of the season in the remaining races, but the following round at the Red Bull Ring would showcase the best of Formula Renault 2.0 and in particular the best of Norris and Defourny.

There is nothing better than seeing two drivers at the top of their game fighting for race victory, and race one in Austria was just one of those occasions. Norris and Defourny, a rivalry that could grow and grow, fought tooth and nail for the win, passing and re-passing each other, often with millimetres to spare and in places not usually associated with overtaking, with Norris ultimately coming out on top ahead of Defourny, who had to hold off a last lap challenge from Habsburg.

The two battled again in race two, but this time for second as Scott took his and AVF by Adrian Vallés’ second win in three races, with Defourny this time coming out on top ahead of Norris.

Norris' battle with Defourny in Austria was fantastic to watch - Credit: Francois Flamand / DPPI
Norris’ battle with Defourny in Austria was fantastic to watch – Credit: Francois Flamand / DPPI

Scott was on top again in race one at Paul Ricard, leading home a British driver 1-2-3 ahead of Norris and Will Palmer, while Norris secured win number five in race two, with Defourny again trailing the Briton with Boccolacci third.

Hugo de Sadeleer took a surprise maiden race victory in race one at Spa Francorchamps, leading home a Tech 1 Racing 1-2-4-6 finish, with Norris denying the team a podium lock-out, while the same three drivers finished on the podium in race two, Boccolacci this time taking race honours ahead of Norris and de Sadeleer, with the results in Belgium securing Norris the title.

With the main championship decided, Estoril hosted the season finale, but the on track battles between Norris and Defourny were far from over. Whilst battling for the lead heading onto the final lap, the two clashed at turn one, allowing Palmer to take his maiden victory in the championship ahead of de Sadeleer and Robert Shwartzman, while Fenestraz led from start to finish in the final race of the year ahead of Norris and Defourny, although Boccolacci’s more consistent season allowed the Frenchman to claim the runners up spot in the championship.

Fifty-three points separated Norris from Boccolacci in the final reckoning, with Defourny, Scott and Fenestraz rounding out the top five.

Wet weather greeted Eurocup's debut in Monaco - Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd
Wet weather greeted Eurocup’s debut in Monaco – Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup

Monza hosted the opening round of the NEC season, and the first victory of the year went to Boccolacci, with Nikita Troitskiy taking his first and only podium finish of the season in second ahead of Norris.

Defourny recovered from a poor opening race affected by car troubles to win race two on Sunday ahead of highly rated Indian racer Jehan Daruvala of Josef Kaufmann Racing and ahead of Palmer, who denied Norris the final spot on the podium.

Defourny was victorious again in race one at Silverstone ahead of Boccolacci and Palmer, with Norris failing to start with a car problem, but the Briton recovered to take his first win of the year in race two, with Palmer making it a British 1-2 ahead of Boccolacci.

Norris won his second consecutive race in the opening race at the Hungaroring, with Vasily Romanov taking his only podium of the year in second ahead of Habsburg, while Daruvala took his maiden victory in race two ahead of Shwartzman, with Habsburg once again completing the podium for Fortec Motorsports.

The season continued at Spa-Francorchamps, and Norris’ championship charge really started with a double victory, and it would be the penultimate round of the season at the Hockenheimring before he finished anywhere other than first or second on the road.

Boccolacci took second to Norris in race one in Belgium ahead of JD Motorsport’s James Allen, while Defourny took a home podium in race two ahead of Fenestraz.

Dorian Boccolacci took race wins in both Eurocup and NEC in 2016 - Credit: Clement Luck / DPPI
Dorian Boccolacci took race wins in both Eurocup and NEC in 2016 – Credit: Clement Luck / DPPI

Norris won again in race one at Assen ahead of Boccolacci and Daruvala, while Defourny won race two ahead of Norris, with Daruvala again completing the podium in third.

Shwartzman took a maiden win in race one at the Nurburgring ahead of Norris and Defourny, but the young Russian experienced how motorsport can go from highs straight to lows when he was eliminated at the first turn of race two, with Norris going on to claim win number six of the year ahead of Defourny and Daruvala.

The year ended with a trip to the Hockenheimring, and Fenestraz was able to take his first NEC victory in race one ahead of Norris and Defourny, while Shwartzman returned to winning ways in race two, again ahead of Defourny and Fenestraz, while Norris’ fourth place was enough for him to clinch the title.

Allen surprised many by taking victory in race three at the German circuit, with Defourny again in second and Norris third to end the year with 326 points, 41 more than his Belgian rival and 100 clear of third placed Boccolacci.

Lando Norris was a double champion in 2016 - Credit: Gregory Lenormand / DPPI
Lando Norris was a double champion in 2016 – Credit: Gregory Lenormand / DPPI