A late quick lap from Frenchman Matthieu Vaxiviere meant the Lotus driver ended the first Collective Test session of the 2015 Formula Renault 3.5 Series at Motorland Aragon at the top of the standings, while less than a second covered the first fourteen cars, indicating another close season of racing is imminent.
Vaxiviere, in his second season with Lotus in the series, set a time of 1m42.013s to beat then pacesetter Gustav Malja of Strakka Racing by just 0.007s, while third placed Beitske Visser was also able to get within a tenth of a second of the pace, with the AVF driver just 0.080s back.
Malja’s second place meant the Swede was the best-placed rookie in the field, with four of the top six places being taken by returning drivers. The next best rookie was 2014 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 champion Nyck de Vries in fifth position for DAMS, just behind International Draco Racing’s Pietro Fantin.
Jazeman Jaafar was sixth fastest in the session for Fortec Motorsports, ahead of the second Strakka of Cypriot Tio Ellinas, while the second AVF of Mexican Alfonso Celis Jr, who made a one-off appearance in FR3.5 in 2015 at the Nurburgring for Tech 1 Racing, was eighth.
Four of the pre-season favourites, Oliver Rowland (Fortec Motorsports), Dean Stoneman (DAMS), Roberto Merhi (Pons Racing) and Tom Dillmann (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) were all place ninth through to twelfth.
Celis Jr and Merhi were both responsible for causing red flag periods during the session, with the Mexican stopping at turn 1 after fifteen minutes, while the Spaniard stopped at turn seventeen with fifteen minutes remaining.
Neither Zeta Corse (as expected) nor Comtec Racing were on track during the session.
The second collective test takes place later this afternoon.
Motorland Aragon Collective Test 1 Times
|2||12||Gustav Malja||SWE||Strakka Racing||1m42.020s|
|4||19||Pietro Fantin||BRZ||International Draco Racing||1m42.139s|
|5||1||Nyck de Vries||NED||DAMS||1m42.235s|
|6||3||Jazeman Jaafar||MAL||Fortec Motorsports||1m42.253s|
|7||11||Tio Ellinas||CYP||Strakka Racing||1m42.361s|
|8||15||Alfonso Celis Jr||MEX||AVF||1m42.376s|
|9||4||Oliver Rowland||GBR||Fortec Motorsports||1m42.432s|
|11||40||Roberto Merhi||ESP||Pons Racing||1m42.686s|
|12||26||Tom Dillmann||FRA||Jagonya Ayam with Carlin||1m42.699s|
|13||39||Philo Paz Patric Armand||INO||Pons Racing||1m42.925s|
|14||10||Meindert van Buuren||NED||Lotus||1m43.008s|
|15||25||Sean Gelael||INO||Jagonya Ayam with Carlin||1m43.113s|
|16||20||Bruno Bonifacio||BRZ||International Draco Racing||1m43.185s|
|17||6||Egor Orudzhev||RUS||Arden Motorsport||1m43.416s|
|18||5||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Arden Motorsport||1m43.470s|
|19||17||Roy Nissany||ISR||Tech 1 Racing||1m44.216s|
|20||18||Aurelien Panis||FRA||Tech 1 Racing||1m44.835s|