Llando Norris (Bristol) and Harrison Scott (Chelmsford) headed the timesheets after a two-day pre-season test at the Paul Ricard circuit in southern France. Also within a second of the pace in 11th was Will Palmer (Horsham) – younger brother of new Renault F1 team driver Jolyon Palmer.
All will be hoping to emulate Briton Jack Aitken’s title success of 2015. Aitken has since graduated to the GP3 category which races at Formula 1 Grand Prix events as an official Renault Sport Academy driver.
Notably Norris, just 16 years old, set a new lap record for FRenault 2.0 cars around the Paul Ricard track, in a time of two minutes 02.616 seconds at the wheel of his Josef Kauffman-prepared car. However 20-year-old, racing for the Adrian Valles team, was just a fraction adrift with a best time of 2m02.725s.
More official pre-season testing is scheduled for this week at Germany’s Nurburgring circuit prior to the new Eurocup season starting at Spain’s Motorland Aragon venue in mid-April. The season then heads to either past or present GP circuits for eight events in total which will also feature the Renault Sport Trophy for Renault Sport’s sensational 550hp R.S 0.1 ‘silhouette’ racer.
Every event features two FRenault races except for the stand-out ‘jewel in the crown’ fixture – at May’s Monaco F1 GP with a single round on the principality’s world-famous street circuit. All races are of 25 minutes’ duration plus one lap.
Furthermore every car on the Eurocup FR 2.0 grid is identical in performance – each using the same chassis, 210hp engine and paddle-shift operated gearbox.
The championship has a reputation for producing the top racing names of the future with current F1 racers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas among its past champions. In addition to Aitken, other Britons to have won its title are Jason Plato (1991) and James Matthews (1994).
Calendar: 2016 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0
16-17 April Motorland Aragon, Spain
14-15 May Imola, Italy
28-29 May Monaco
2-3 July Monza, Italy
16-17 July Red Bull Ring, Austria
27-28 August Paul Ricard, France
24-25 September Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
22-23 October Estoril, Portugal