The pair were on a shortlist of eight drivers to sample the first batch of the newly produced car at the Cremona Circuit in Lombardy, Italy – Hampshire’s Collard driving for the M2 Competition team and Cumbria’s Bird for the Tech 1 Racing outfit.
In the coming weeks all ten teams registered for this year’s Formula Renault Eurocup in which the car will be used will take delivery of their full fleet of cars ahead of official test sessions in France and Spain.
Among the teams registered is one owned by Renault’s 2005 and 2006 Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso…
The opening rounds of the new Eurocup season will then take place at Formula 1 circuit Monza, Italy on 12-14 April. A further nine events – again all at current F1 circuits – will follow, the highlight being the Monaco Grand Prix weekend. Also on the calendar (a fortnight prior to Monaco) are rounds at Silverstone, UK (10-12 May). The season will climax at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi in late October.
The car, dubbed the FR-19, is the latest specification of Formula Renault single-seater and brings the category even closer to Formula 1 (numerous drivers to have contested it down the years have gone on to F1 stardom).
It is powered by a 1.8 litre, 270hp engine (derived from that used in the new Mégane R.S.). The chassis, including an F1-style cockpit ‘halo’, is designed and built by Italian manufacturer Tatuus (a long-time ally of Renault Sport’s) and tyres are provided by Hankook.
The very first driver to have tried out FR-19 chassis number 01 just prior to Christmas was another Briton, Max Fewtrell (see separate story).
After 250km of the Vairano circuit in Campania, Italy he was quick to give it a big thumbs up.
“It has been a huge honour for me to drive the new Formula Renault chassis number 1 and I would like to say thanks to Renault and its partners for this opportunity,” said Max.
“My first impression is really good. Straight away, I felt the car was evenly balanced and it just feels really nice in the corners.
“The additional power nicely compensates for the weight increase due to the introduction of the different safety elements, including the new anti-intrusion side panels and the halo... when you’re pushing you don’t even notice there’s one!
“I’ve had a good experience as well with the Hankook tyres in previous championships and it’s living up to its reputation as it allows for getting the most from the extra downforce the car offers, especially in the high-speed corners.
“Overall, I had a terrific time and it looks like it’s the perfect fit for the next generation of Formula Renault.”