Formula Renault 3.5 makes it final stop of the year this week for a three day testing event at Motorland Aragon in Spain. Day one is traditionally reserved for rookies and welcomes young drivers to the series as they continue to deliberate their 2014 options.
The day was split into two sessions, one for the morning and one for the afternoon. The first day saw some Formula Renault 3.5 rookies compete for the fastest times alongside some of the series most experienced young drivers.
The morning session involved numerous red flags as the drivers got to grips with the 3.5 litre engines and the challenges the circuit can bring in the cold conditions they faced. It only took a few minutes for the first red flag to wave; both Zeta Corse models stopped at turn 12 whilst Pietro Fantin sat stationary at turn 17.
It was 2013 Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup runner up, Oliver Rowland, who set the early pace in the morning with Sergey Sirotkin close behind. Rowland, who was driving with Fortec Motorsports, is expected to make the step up to the series next year.
At the start of the morning session, the lead switched between Rowland and 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 regular, Matias Laine. As the red and yellow flags remained ever-present, it was then left to Rafaele Marciello in the Arden Caterham to top the timing sheets. With one hour remaining Marciello remained the quickest over one flying lap.
Not one driver was able to demote Marciello from the top spot as the flag fell on the morning session. Esteban Ocon, Sergey Sirotkin, Oliver Rowland, Zoel Amberg and Jazeman Jaafar completed the top six who were all separated by less than one second.
As the afternoon session commenced, it was Esteban Ocon who posted the first time under 1:40.00s to temporarily lead the standings.
As the first day of testing came to an end, Rafaele Marciello proved to be the fastest on day one of three after reclaiming the top spot. Sergey Sirotkin was second in his Fortec Motorsports model. Despite his best efforts, Ocon finished third ahead of Oliver Rowland and Matias Laine.
Testing will continue for a further three days as each of the drivers attempt to confirm their 2014 plans with a quick showing. A posting of 1:39.258 is the benchmark set by Marciello.