The mid-season Formula Renault 3.5 championship leader will once again get a run in Formula One machinery for Renault this year, getting behind the wheel for the JSP Lotus-liveried car’s exhibition laps during the World Series by Renault event in Budapest.
Since 2005, each FR 3.5 title winner has been given a Renault F1 test, with the likes of injured grand prix star Robert Kubica and GP2 race winners Alavaro Parente and Giedo Van der Garde among those to seize the opportunity. Russia’s Mikhail Aleshin ran at last year’s Abu Dhabi young driver test for the team after claiming the most recent crown.
And for the past two seasons the mid-season leader has also been given a run. Spain’s Marcos Martinez ran at Silverstone in 2009, ultimately losing out on the title to Bertrand Baguette, whilst Aleshin drove a Renault R29 at Magny-Cours last year.
This season’s championship looks like being one of the best to date, not least in terms of driving talent. Badger favourite Jean-Eric Vergne currently leads the standings, the Red Bull-backed driver having made a seamless transition from British F3. His chief rivals include fellow Red Bull protegee Daniel Ricciardo – who already has solid F1 running under his belt – Marussia-backed Robert Wickens and Lotus Junior driver Alex Rossi. All have taken race wins over the first three weekends of FR 3.5 competition in 2011.
“Renault Sport Technologies and Lotus Renault GP are working together to prepare the drivers in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series for Formula 1”, said Patrice Ratti, Managing Director of Renault Sport Technologies. “Every lap aboard an F1 car is a privilege and an opportunity that the drivers know they must grab with both hands.”
The next round of the championship takes place next weekend, with FR 3.5 forming part of the support bill for the Monaco Grand Prix.