On the dawn of its 49th season, Formula Renault opens this week a new chapter in its history at Monza with the introduction of the FR-19. More modern and more powerful, this car has already proven the attraction power of the Formula Renault Eurocup, which has one of the largest single-seater fields in Europe.
Hailed for its technical and sporting fairness, its extremely high level of competition and its very prestigious calendar, the Formula Renault Eurocup once again features an international grid with 22 drivers from across the globe.
Starting on Thursday, they will come together at the Autodromo di Monza for the opening round of the year. While the drivers have already come to grips with their new cars, they now have to fine-tune the last details to kick-off their campaigns on the right foot at a circuit where the challenges are many: slipstreaming, low downforce levels, heavy braking zones and tricky kerbs!
The pre-season leaders
Three drivers seem to have the upper hand since the introduction of the new Formula Renault FR-19 and its 1.8l-turbo engine and Hankook tyres: Victor Martins (MP Motorsport), Oscar Piastri (R-ace GP) and Alexander Smolyar (R-ace GP).
Fifth in the general classification last year, Victor Martins reinforced his status as favourite in setting the best time of the first collective tests day at Magny-Cours before breaking the category track record at Barcelona. The Renault Sport Academy driver will still have to prove that he made the right decision in leaving R-ace GP for MP Motorsport.
To replace him, the defending champions will count on Oscar Piastri and Alexander Smolyar, who both lead the way in two days of the collective tests. After making a strong impression this winter, both hope to convert their speed into victories to perfectly start the season.
The Italians are ready to shine at home
It promises to be an exceptional battle, because the top 15 drivers were covered by just a second during the final collective test day at Barcelona. Other drivers will rely on their experience of the legendary Italian circuit to help their chances.
Lorenzo Colombo (MP Motorsport) scored his first pole position and two podium results at Monza 12 months ago, and now has his first victory in the category in his sights... And his first win since he won on this same track in F4 at the end of 2017!
At the time, Lorenzo Colombo raced for BhaiTech Racing, which is now a newcomer to the Formula Renault Eurocup. For its debut in the category, the team led by the Bada brothers will rely on two rookies, who have come from the Italian F4 Championship: the Czech Petr Ptáček and Italian Federico Malvestiti, who will race in his backyard as he was born in Monza!
Always a force to be reckoned with when a new car is introduced, Italian team JD Motorsport will line-up three promising newcomers. While the Italian Leonardo Lorandi and Brazilian João Vieira know Monza quit well, their team mate Ugo de Wilde cannot be overlooked as the French F4 championship runner-up was one of the fastest rookies during the winter.
Alessio Deledda will be the fourth Italian driver on the grid. The former bike racer wants to rely on his past experience with the track and that of his team mate Xavier Lloveras to allow the Spanish Global Racing Service team enjoy a successful debut in the Formula Renault Eurocup.
Do not underestimate anyone
The other drivers also have big ambitions. Reigning French F4 Champion and Renault Sport Academy driver, Caio Collet (R-ace GP) will hope to maintain the momentum of his title, as will Amaury Cordeel (MP Motorsport), who won the F4 crown in Spain.
Consistently among the front-runners this winter, Arden Motorsport will count its rookie Patrik Pasma and the experience of his team mates Sebastián Fernández and Frank Bird, who have shown well at Monza in the past.
After having won everything in New Zealand, M2 Competition will tackle the Formula Renault Eurocup with the clear intention of continuing their winning ways. For its first European campaign, the Jonathan and Élise Moury run team will rely on the trio of Esteban Muth, Yves Baltas and Kush Maini. The Indian driver already made his way to the Monza podium in 2017.
Last but not least, the FA Racing by Drivex team overseen by Fernando Alonso and Pedro de la Rosa will be closely watched this weekend for its competitive debut. Former Red Bull Junior Team and Lotus F1 Junior Team driver Callan O’Keeffe will lead the squad’s charge along with his ambitious team mates and Formula Renault Eurocup rookies, Brad Benavides and Patrick Schott.
- 8 teams and 22 drivers from 6 continents and 15 countries. Italy is the most represented nation (4), followed by Belgium (3) and Brazil and the United States (2).
- 10 circuits homologated for F1.
- 13 rookies will battle for the Hankook Trophy. Awarded to the highest finishing rookie in each race, this prize includes a set of tyres to be used in 2020.
- 15 drivers covered by a second on the final day of collective tests.
- 20 races, or two at each meeting. Each race will have its own qualifying session with all the drivers participating (except at Monaco).
- 30 minutes + 1 lap, the race distance (except at Monaco).
Friday April 12, 2019
9:00-9:50: Collective tests 1
12:50–13:40: Collective tests 2
Saturday April 13, 2019
9:00–9:30: Qualifying 1
14:10–14:45: Race 1
Sunday April 14, 2019
9:00–9:30: Qualifying 2
13:30–14:05: Race 2