30 June 2009
Will Brits have Silverstone World Series edge?
The lead built up by Pons Racing's Marco Martinez in the World Series by Renault is hanging by a thread as the championship heads to the hallowed tarmac of Silverstone.
The Spaniard is level-pegging in the title race with International Draco Racing's Bertrand Baguette, while P1 Motorsport's James Walker, Ultimate Motorsport's Miguel Molina and Carlin Motorsport's Oliver Turvey are all waiting to pounce. With five British teams and four drivers sporting the Union Jack this weekend, don't expect there to be any polite queuing at the home of the British Grand Prix.
Things change fast in the World Series. Unbeatable at the start of the season, Martinez racked up the wins during the first two meetings, with three victories in four races contributing 45 points, but things have since been difficult for the Spanish driver. With two retirements, one sixth place and just eleven points scored since Monaco, his lead has melted away like snow, allowing Baguette to draw level.
Nevertheless, it is still Martinez who comes to Silverstone as points leader and, as such, it falls to him to give the ING Renault R28 its outing in front of what is expected to be a packed crowd. The man from Madrid will be taking his first steps in an F1 car, and will follow his track time by visiting the ING Renault F1 team headquarters at Enstone for a two-day F1 clinic on Monday and Tuesday, where he will be joined by other World Series drivers.
Before that, however, the 26-strong field will be concentrating on two races which could well change the face of the overall standings. The main aim for Martinez and Baguette will be to move clear of each other. A regular on the podium, and runner-up on three occasions, the Belgian has yet to secure a win this season, and knows that, at Silverstone in particular, both he and Martinez will be fighting tooth and nail against the British contingent. Copse, Becketts and Stowe hold no secrets for them and they will all be dreaming of a win on the track where Sebastian Vettel, a former star in the World Series, won this year's British Grand Prix.
Walker will undoubtedly be the main British driver to watch. Third in the championship, and only two points behind Martinez and Baguette, the Jerseyman needs a win to put his hopes of the title back on track. A winner already this season at Spa-Francorchamps, to win again in front of his home crowd, as he did at Donington in 2007, would be a great way to boost his popularity - and chances - even further.
Turvey, meanwhile, has already won one race this season, at Monaco, and clearly has what it takes to repeat that performance, even if he is still learning the ropes in the category. Ultimate Motorsport's Greg Mansell and Comtec Racing's Jon Lancaster are also newcomers to the series, although the former can surely count on advice from father Nigel, who won the F1 race at Silverstone on three occasions - in 1987, 1991 and 1992.
The job will be more complicated for Lancaster. Runner-up in the 2007 FRenault Eurocup, he took his first steps in the World Series in Hungary, scoring points in his first race to prove that he is a quick learner.
Elsewhere, Guillaume Moreau will make his return to the series a few weeks after a dazzling performance in the Le Mans 24 Hours. The Frenchman will bring his experience to the new KMP Group/SG Formula team for the rest of the season.
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