Formula Renault EurocupSeason Review

SEASON REVIEW: 2020 Formula Renault Eurocup – Victor Martins Finally Brings Home the Title

6 Mins read
Credit: Clement Luck / DPPI

After three years in the championship and twice coming close to the title, Victor Martins finally secured the Formula Renault Eurocup championship in 2020, with the Frenchman coming out on top of a titanic battle with Caio Collet.

Seven victories came the ART Grand Prix driver’s way and he had two perfect weekends at the Nürburgring and Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, but R-ace GP’s Collet kept him honest and took the championship battle right down to the final round.

Calendar Reshuffled Due to Coronavirus, ART Grand Prix Make Series Return

The championship season was rejigged due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the season getting underway at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza in July, three months after it was originally set to start.    

The original calendar lost Silverstone, Monaco, the Hungaroring and the planned trip to Abu Dhabi, with two trips to the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari coming in instead, as well as rounds at the Hockenheimring and the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours.

ART Grand Prix made their return to the championship for the first time since 2003 and signed former Renault Sport Academy member Martins to race alongside Mercedes-Benz protégé Paul Aron and Swiss racer Grégoire Saucy.

R-ace GP, the defending Teams’ Champions, retained 2019 rookie champion Collet alongside Kush Maini and Petr Ptácek.  However, Maini did not appear as he switched to the BRDC British Formula 3 championship, while Ptácek did not last the season, switching to MP Motorsport for the final three rounds.  He was replaced for those races by Russian Mikhael Belov, while both Johnathan Hoggard and Elias Seppänen both appearing once for the team in their third car.

MP Motorsport signed Argentine racer Franco Colapinto, Frenchman Hadrien David and Dutchman Joey Alders, but the latter stayed for only two rounds before Roman Staněk, Kas Haverkort and Ptácek all took turns in the number twelve car.

Arden Motorsport was another team to have to change their line-up ahead of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Jackson Walls originally set to race for them.  However, the Australian was unable to travel to Europe from his homeland and was replaced by Alex Quinn, with Reshad de Gerus and Ugo de Wilde announced as his team-mates.

JD Motorsport started the year with just a single entry at Monza for William Alatalo, but from round two onwards, he was joined by young Spaniard David Vidales, who would have an immediate impact on the championship at Imola. Bhaitech Racing signed Hungarian racer László Tóth and Italian racers Nicola Marinangeli and Lorenzo Colombo to race their three cars, although Marinangeli was forced to miss two rounds due to injury.  He was replaced by Vicky Piria for those rounds. FA Racing by Manor hired Amaury Cordeel and Tijmen van der Helm for 2020, while Abbi Pulling was given a one-off outing at Imola in the third car.

Global Racing System announced prior to the season that they would not be racing in 2020, leaving Xavier Lloveras and Belén García without a ride, while Belov began the year at M2 Competition for the opening two rounds before he switched his attention to the FIA Formula 3 Championship prior to returning with R-ace GP. The M2 Competition team did not appear again throughout the season but are expected back for 2021. 

Caio Collet took five victories on his way to second in the Drivers’ Championship – Credit: Clement Luck / DPPI

Colapinto, Collet Start the year with Victories

Once the season finally got underway at Monza, 2019 Spanish Formula 4 champion Colapinto took a maiden victory in race one as he passed polesitter Quinn after a safety car intervention.  The Argentine took the victory ahead of the Briton, while Collet took the final spot on the podium as Martins’ season started with a tenth-place finish after needing to pit for a new front wing after contact with the eventual winner.

Martins took his first pole position of the season for race two, but much like in race one, the race did not go the way of the pole sitter, although he was able to take his first podium finish in second. Collet took the win, while Colapinto took third to leave Monza as joint championship leader.

The championship remained in Italy for round two, with Imola playing host.  Vidales took pole position for race one in what was his first ever car race, and the Spaniard went on to take the victory as well ahead of Collet and Alatalo.  Vidales would do the same again in race two, winning from pole position, with Alatalo making it a JD Motorsport one-two ahead of Quinn.

Franco Colapinto took third place in the standings for MP Motorsport – Credit: Frederic Le Floc’h/DPPI

Martins Dominates at the Nürburgring

After two fourth place finishes at Imola, Martins took his first victory of the season in the opening round at the Nürburgring, with the Frenchman doing it in style from pole position and with fastest lap.  Colombo took his first podium of the season in second while Vidales completed the top three.

Martins would do the same again in race two, winning from pole position with fastest lap to boot, with Aron and Saucy this time completing the podium in an ART Grand Prix one-two-three.

Collet missed out on the podium places in Germany after slow getaways left him down the order, but the Frenchman went back to winning ways in the first race at Magny-Cours, with Vidales and Martins completing the podium. However, Martins took his third win in four races in race two, with Collet and Vidales again inside the top three.

It quickly became four wins in five races as the championship headed to Zandvoort, with Martins taking the chequered flag in race one ahead of, again, Collet and Vidales.  Collet got revenge in race two, however, to take his third win of the season, with Martins second and Colapinto third.

Martins has long been an expert at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, and it was no surprise to anyone when he once again drove a perfect weekend, winning both races from pole position and with fastest lap in both as well.

Collet took second in both races – the second after a stunning drive through the field in difficult conditions, while de Wilde took his first podium finish of the season in race one and Colapinto his fourth top three finish of 2020 in race two.

Alex Quinn was the rookie champion despite not having been scheduled to race in 2020 – Credit: Frederic Le Floc’h/DPPI

Final Flurry Takes Martins to the Title

The rejigged championship saw the final four rounds of the season run on consecutive weekends, with Spa-Francorchamps, Imola (as a support to the Formula 1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix), Hockenheimring and the Circuit Paul Ricard playing host to the series.

Inclement weather in Belgium affected both races, with Colapinto taking the win in a shortened race that awarded only half points after the rain intensified and saw de Gerus crash heavily at Radillon.  Martins gained more points on Collet by finishing second to the Frenchman’s seventh, while de Wilde took his second podium of the season in his home event.

Race two was more of a lottery when it came to tyre choice, with the track still wet but with no more rain expected.  Quinn and de Wilde took a one-two finish for Arden after both opting for wet tyres to start, but it was apparent that dry tyres were the ones to have at the end as Martins made significant gains to finish fourth, just behind team-mate Saucy.  Collet again fell further behind as he could only manage sixth.

Collet took a much-needed victory in race one of the second Imola weekend, with Quinn and Colombo completing the podium as Martins could only manage fifth.  However, it was definitely advantage Martins after victory in race two as Collet was forced to retire after being hit from behind by Vidales.  Colapinto took second, while David took his maiden podium finish in third.

Collet took another victory in race one at the Hockenheimring, but his retirement with a technical issue in race two allowed Martins to put one hand on the title.  Martins and Quinn had finished second and third in race one behind Collet, while Colombo took his, and Bhaitech’s first win of the year in race two ahead of Martins and Colapinto.

Colombo took a second win in race one at Paul Ricard ahead of Collet and Colapinto, but fourth place was enough for Martins to clinch the title.  Colombo made it a hat-trick in race two, the only driver in 2020 to win three on the bounce, with Martins and Colapinto taking the final podium places.

Lorenzo Colombo took the final three victories of the season – Credit: Marc de Mattia/DPPI

Martins, Quinn and ART Grand Prix Celebrate as Eurocup Says Goodbye

Martins ultimately took the title with three-hundred and forty-eight points, forty-four points clear of Collet, while Colapinto ended the year third. 

Quinn was the best placed rookie in fourth, not bad for a driver not originally scheduled to race.  Vidales’ strong start to his career faded as he failed to stand on the podium after the first race at Zandvoort, and ultimately slipped behind Colombo to finish sixth in the final standings.

ART Grand Prix took the Teams’ Title in their first year back by scoring four-hundred and seventy-one and a half points, with R-ace GP ending second ahead of MP Motorsport.

It was announced towards the end of the season that Formula Renault Eurocup will no longer exist beyond 2020, with the series joining forces with the Formula Regional European Championship to form Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine.

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Long time motorsport fanatic, covering Formula 1 and the occassional other series. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter at @Paul11MSport.
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