There are many outstanding talents racing in the Formula Renault 3.5 series in 2014. We have only one previous winner in the form of Marco Sorensen in the series this year, but the strength of the drivers is great, including some of the rookies. We should be in for a good season of FR3.5.
Here are five drivers that in my opinion are ones to look out for this year.
Oliver Rowland – Great Britain – Fortec Motorsports
The Brit comes into the series on the back of a strong 2013 campaign in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0. He steps up still with the backing of the Racing Steps Foundation and performed strongly during pre-season testing.
Should be up there challenging for race wins with Fortec after those strong performances in testing, and will have a relatively strong team-mate to compete with in the form of Sergey Sirotkin. Fortec are a great team, and we should expect great things from Rowland.
Will Stevens – Great Britain – Strakka Racing
The Brit is the highest placed returning driver from 2013, and stays within the Strakka team for a second season. Finished last year with a double podium in Barcelona. Should easily be the team leader within Strakka again.
Has yet to win a race in the series, but that ought to change this year. Has the backing of the Caterham F1 team that is great for the Brit, and should help push him to the next level.
Carlos Sainz Jr – Spain – DAMS
The first of two Red Bull supported drivers, this is a big year for the Spaniard. Stepping into the seat that last year saw Kevin Magnussen winning the championship, he will need to up his game if his dream of an F1 drive is to materialise.
Was out performed by Daniil Kvyat last year and thus overlooked for the Toro Rosso F1 drive in favour of the Russian, and while he has a apparently weaker team-mate this year, he will need to win a number of races to get Red Bull interested in promoting him to F1.
Pierre Gasly – France – Arden Motorsport
The ‘other’ Red Bull backed driver, and perhaps the lesser known of the two, Gasly arrives in FR3.5 having won the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 title in 2013. The Frenchman defeated Rowland in a good battle that last until the season finale in Barcelona.
Joins Arden for 2014, having had a strong pre-season, ending up as one of the front-runners in virtually all sessions. Should win races, and could be in with a shout of winning the championship. Robin Frijns did the 2.0-3.5 double in 2011/12, proving that it can be done!
Sergey Sirotkin – Russia – Fortec Motorsports
Had a good but not great 2013 with ISR, but will come into 2014 on the back of a strong pre-season with Fortec, who ran Stoffel Vandoorne to second place in the championship last year.
The Russian national anthem will need to play a number of times in 2014 for people to take him seriously as he continues to ready himself for an F1 promotion with his backers in 2015. Sirotkin just this past week completed the mileage he needed to gain his F1 Superlicence when he ran in the post-Bahrain test for Sauber. He will need to prove to many his credentials as he was a serious candidate for a quick promotion to F1 last year.