Blinking takes between 1-5 tenths of a second. The gap between second and ninth in…
MEDIA RELEASE/Renault F1 Team – Photo: supplied
Renault F1 Team presents a round-up of its Renault Sport Academy drivers and their activities on and off-track in 2019.
Max Fewtrell, Christian Lundgaard, Victor Martins and new recruits for 2019 Guanyu Zhou, Yifei Ye, Caio Collet and Affiliate Driver Leonardo Lorandi all share their thoughts on the season, while Renault Sport Racing Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul and Academy Director Mia Sharizman pay tribute to Anthoine Hubert and look ahead to next year.
Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director, Renault Sport Racing
Four years after its creation, the Renault Sport Academy has developed into one of the most respected, competitive and desirable young driver programmes in single-seater racing.
We welcomed three new faces in 2019, with Guanyu Zhou racing in Formula 2 alongside former Affiliate Driver Anthoine Hubert, Chinese driver Yifei Ye starting in Formula 3 with established RSA members Max Fewtrell and Christian Lundgaard and Brazilian Caio Collet joining Victor Martins in Formula Renault. Leonardo Lorandi also signed as an Affiliate Driver.
There have been some excellent highs including nine wins across three different championships but, we were also dealt the lowest of lows in Belgium in August with the tragic loss of Anthoine. He became part of the Renault family in 2018.
We will never know what Anthoine could have gone on to achieve, but we can be proud to have helped Anthoine realise some of his dreams. He won his first Formula 2 race in Monaco in May and later went on to be victorious on home soil in France. His hard work and determination is how we will remember him.
We will continue to race with Anthoine always in our hearts.
The same way young designers and engineers are pushing at Enstone and Viry to bring new energy to the team, our young racing drivers are working incredibly hard to develop their respective skills. We are dedicated to nurturing racing talent and we’re moving ever-closer to having an Academy driver in an F1 race seat. As always this is the long-term goal and I’m delighted to see we are one step nearer realising this target.
Mia Sharizman, Renault Sport Academy Director
This season has been the ‘Year of the Rookies’ for the Academy, and, on a whole, I’m very proud of the achievements from Zhou, Anthoine, Christian, Max, Yifei, Victor, Caio and Leonardo.
Across FIA Formula 2, Formula 3 and Formula Renault Eurocup our drivers have performed and conducted themselves extremely well. In each of these series, an Academy driver has been ‘Top Rookie’. Zhou won this award in Formula 2, Christian in Formula 3 and Caio took the rookie title in the Eurocup. Max claimed two podiums in Formula 3 and Anthoine was the only rookie to have won two Formula 2 races and be classified in the top 10 in the championship.
It’s clear winning championships as a rookie is becoming more difficult and it means we’re in a great position for our drivers to be competing for titles in 2020. The target has always been to have an Academy driver in a position to be in the Formula 1 race seat by 2021, so there’s a lot of hard work ahead. We’re confident this can be achieved.
We can call next season the ‘attack’ year for the Academy. We aim to win championships and we are also targeting building a reputation for our programme, so the best young talent out there wants to be with Renault. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how next season pans out; it’s an exciting time.
Finally, I’m exceptionally proud of how the boys conducted themselves through a difficult period in September when we lost our friend Anthoine. They all race with him in their minds and will undoubtedly continue to do him proud.
Anthoine was a very quick driver but that came through his hard work and dedication. Most of all, he was a true role model, not only for the Academy Drivers, but for everyone involved in the team and the sport. His legacy will live on.
Guanyu Zhou finished as best rookie in the 2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship after a superb debut season where he claimed five podium places. He signed with the Academy in January alongside his role as Development Driver for Renault F1 Team.
Zhou, racing for UNI-Virtuosi, made a solid start to the season in Bahrain finishing tenth in race one before battling his way to fourth in race two. After a difficult outing in Baku, Zhou took his first podium in Formula 2 in Spain with a third place and followed that up with another third place after a strong effort on the streets of Monaco.
His form continued through France with a third podium of the season before he stormed to his maiden Formula 2 pole position in Silverstone after a stellar one-chance lap. He finished third in Britain and continued to pick up points before and after the summer break. Zhou had to wait until the final round in Abu Dhabi for his next visit to the rostrum where he took another third place to secure seventh in the championship and ‘Top Rookie’.
Guanyu Zhou: “It’s been a pleasure driving in Formula 2 wearing Renault colours this year. We started the season well, much better than expected, and we were fighting for victories and podiums. I was the only rookie to be doing that consistently with three podiums coming in Feature Races. It was nice to be up there in the championship all the way through and competing for the top five. Ending the year with a podium finish was a good way to close out the championship. I learned a lot from experienced drivers, especially my team-mate who has made me a better driver for the future. I’m now looking forward to the challenge ahead over the next few years. I’d like to say a big thanks to the team and to Renault F1 Team for helping me massively this year.”
Zhou on Formula 1: “On the Formula 1 side, it’s been an unbelievable season. With the opportunities I’ve had, a few dreams have come true. I was honoured to do the Formula 1 demo in the city of Shanghai, I never expected that to happen, and also driving an F1 car on the circuit before the 1,000th Grand Prix was special as well. At the home of the team at Goodwood, I climbed up the hill for another Formula 1 demo, becoming the first Chinese driver to do so. It’s been an emotional year and hopefully there’s more of that to come in the future.”
Favourite Moment: “The Silverstone pole position. That was something special! We didn’t expect to be up at the front straight away. My engineer asked me if I wanted to do one lap or two laps and I said: ‘let’s go for one’. We nailed the lap and I was happy to score my first Formula 2 pole position.”
Christian Lundgaard and Max Fewtrell both stepped up to the inaugural FIA Formula 3 Championship with ART Grand Prix this season after they went head-to-head for last year’s Formula Renault Eurocup title.
Christian finished sixth in the Drivers’ Championship behind five drivers who have previously competed in Formula 3 or GP3. The Dane made an excellent start in Barcelona with a second place in the first race of the season. It could have been one better for Christian who had crossed the line first but was handed a five-second penalty for a Virtual Safety Car infringement, which put him to second.
He had to wait until Hungary for his first win after starting from pole position. He claimed two fourth place finishes in Belgium before securing another superb pole position in Monza, where he was unfortunate to leave empty-handed. Christian finished third on debut in the Macau Grand Prix Qualification Race and then fourth in the Main Race. He ended his year with a maiden outing in the FIA Formula 2 Championship with Trident Motorsport.
Max joined Christian at ART and he too found podiums difficult to come by in a competitive field. An impressive weekend in Austria saw Max take his first podium with second place, which he later followed up in Hungary, finishing behind Christian. A run of bad luck ensued, with technical problems meaning Max missed out on likely podiums in race two in Hungary and later in Belgium. The Briton finished tenth in the Drivers’ Championship.
Yifei Ye was announced as an Academy member in Shanghai in April but faced a tricky year in Formula 3 with Hitech Grand Prix. He remained resilient to score his first points of the campaign in the final round in Russia.
Christian Lundgaard: “The second-half of the season has been a tough one mentally and with difficult results. We lost a friend at a race weekend with a couple of rounds to go and that has been a very difficult concept to understand. In the end, finishing sixth is not the result we wanted, but I’ve learned so much during the year. We didn’t get everything out of our potential and losing points isn’t acceptable, but we will have to learn. I lost fifth in the championship at the final round in Russia because I was hit while under safety car conditions; it wasn’t the way we wanted to end the championship, but we had an excellent weekend in Macau and then a really good experience in Formula 2 to round off the season. I’m already fully focused on 2020.”
Favourite Moment: “Macau was the highlight of the year because it was my first time out there and getting third in race one and fourth in the main race was way better than I’d ever thought. It’s just such an amazing place to drive and something every race driver should experience.”
Max Fewtrell: “This year has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for many reasons. We didn’t get the results we wanted. We had two strong weekends where we were fighting for the win but in the end finished in second place, which were still good results. We showed what we could do there, but it was too inconsistent. Sometimes we’d be absolutely nowhere and then the next week we’d be in with a chance for the win. It’s been up and down and not the end the result we wanted at all as we targeted to compete for the title. I’m looking forward to 2020 and getting back on the top step and have a chance at claiming the crown.”
Favourite Moment: “My favourite moment of the year was testing the R.S.17. To finally take an F1 car out on track on a test day was a dream come true and probably the best day of my life so far. From the moment I stepped in a go-kart to that point was all building up. It was really special to me. I’ve experienced what it’s like being an F1 driver for a day and doing that full-time is the end goal.”
Yifei Ye: “It’s been a challenging rookie season for me in FIA Formula 3. The level of the field this year was extremely high. It was not easy for me to learn the F3 car with very limited track time and to compete with drivers who have more experience. But we improved step by step and we have shown good pace in the second half of the season and we finished the year with a great result and a lot of confidence for the future. Big thanks to all the Renault Sport Academy staff for the great help and support.”
Favourite Moment: “Russia, the final round of the year where I nailed the practice session, messed up the qualifying but then I had two strong races coming back from behind and taking my first points in the process with many great overtakes.”
Formula Renault Eurocup
Victor Martins fell short of winning the 2019 Formula Renault Eurocup Drivers’ Championship, but enjoyed a solid, victory-filled season in his second year as an Academy Driver. Victor won six races in 2019 and was on the podium a further eight times. The title went to the final round at Yas Marina, but Victor missed out by seven and a half points to Oscar Piastri.
In addition to his victories and podiums, Victor took an impressive seven pole positions from the final eight races, including six in a row across Barcelona, Hockenheim and Abu Dhabi.
Caio Collet joined the programme after his French F4 success in 2018 and was placed in the Eurocup with Teams’ Champions, R-ace GP. Caio has been very consistent this season and was one of only two drivers to start and finish every race. Caio set a Eurocup record for most consecutive points finishes, 19, stretching from the second race of the year through to the final race. He claimed the rookie title with 207 points to finish fifth overall in the championship. He took six podiums across the year with a third place in Monaco and a double podium in Hockenheim the two standouts.
Affiliate Driver Leonardo Lorandi started the season brightly by taking second place in the opening race of the year in Monza. But that was Leonardo’s only podium of the season as he finished thirteenth in the series.
Victor Martins: “It’s been a really positive year for me as I’ve discovered a lot of things about myself and that will help me for the future. I have been through a lot of ups and downs, but we always managed to control those emotions well. The beginning to the middle of the season was where I lost a lot of points in the championship. After the summer break, we came back a lot stronger with the mindset of winning races and not looking at the championship. We absolutely dominated the last four rounds, but it wasn’t enough to win the title. It’s obviously frustrating but I’m still really proud of what the guys at MP Motorsport and myself have achieved together. I would say a big thanks to Renault for all the support this year and also to MP Motorsport who have worked so hard even in the tough moments! Now it’s time to work even harder to prepare for 2020, which will be another challenge.”
Favourite Moment: “Winning in Monaco. To win on the streets of Monaco is an experience I will never forget. It’s one of my best moments of the year alongside Barcelona where I had a perfect weekend with two pole positions, two victories and two fastest laps!”
Caio Collet: “Overall, the season was positive. We ended up as rookie champion and also set a new record in the championship with 19 points finishes in a row. We were consistent during the season, always fighting for podiums but we weren’t able to fight for wins for many of the races, and that was quite disappointing. Apart from that, my first year in the Renault family has been really good. We’ve completed a few hard training camps and I also had the opportunity to drive an F1 car for the first time in my hometown, São Paulo. We will keep working and pushing to improve in the areas that we need to and make sure we can fight for the championship next season.”
Favourite Moment: “My favourite moment of the season was the Senna tribute in São Paulo. It’s not every day that you drive a Formula 1 car on the streets of your hometown. It was a really special moment and I enjoyed it a lot.”
Leonardo Lorandi: “We struggled quite a lot this season. It began well with a podium in Monza but after that it was quite painful and not the best of years. After the final race in Abu Dhabi, we had a test and we were quickest there so that was very promising. We’ll see what life brings next year. For now, I will do some karting, enjoy the winter and keep doing my job in racing!”
Favourite Moment: “The podium in Monza was good and also the pole position in Spa!”
Marketing and Media Summary
Away from racing all Academy drivers have enjoyed regular media and marketing exposure, including Formula 1 demonstration runs with support from local Renault markets.
Zhou had his first run in a Formula 1 car, the 2012, Renault-spec E20, at the downtown Shanghai Fan Festival before putting on a show at the circuit as a build-up to the 1,000th Grand Prix on race day. Zhou also drove the same car at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July.
Max joined Zhou at Goodwood and also took part in the French Roadshow alongside Christian. Caio took to the streets of his hometown in São Paulo in November for the Senna Tribute Fan Festival.
All drivers have conducted many media interviews throughout the season including: Max with Sky Sports F1 in Spain, Caio with many big Brazilian media such as TV Globo, the biggest Formula 1 broadcaster in the world, Christian with TV3 in Denmark and Zhou and Yifei with major Chinese publications and broadcasters.
The Academy Drivers have joined Renault Sport Team Vitality’s Esports Drivers on a number of occasions this year on media and marketing days.
Zhou, Christian and Max all tested the Renault R.S.17 hybrid engine Formula 1 car on private test days throughout the year, working with race engineers to further learn about a modern car. Anthoine too drove the R.S.17 in Austria in May, to make true a childhood dream.
For all our news keep your eyes peeled on the Velocity Magazine website and social media, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for our daily updates and to get the latest edition of our glossy magazine subscribe here from just $55 for 12 months subscription.