It has been a great build-up for the Red Bull Junior Team as all three drivers have been impressive in preseason testing. Carlos Sainz Jr. and Pierre Gasly have had two tests in their World Series by Renault 3.5 litre cars while Alex Lynn headed the time sheets in the first of the tests for the GP3 season.
“I can’t complain too much about that,” exclaimed British 20-year-old Lynn who put in a great performance for the Carlin team over two days in Estoril. “I was a little surprised to be honest, I had never driven the car before and I didn’t really know how it would go. I think it says a lot about the hard work we put in with the team in the winter. We were as well prepared for the test as I think we could possibly be.”
“We did prepare really hard, we went through a lot of things with the team, the way they wanted me to drive, what I needed to get out of the car and so we really understood as much as possible about each other before we got to the track. It was a lot of background work and Carlin have their own sim and I also did some stuff at Red Bull.”
The F3 Macau Grand Prix winner is well aware that this is only the start. “We still have a lot of work to do, we wanted to find out where we are. I might have struggled, I might have found it difficult to get used to the car or the Pirelli tyres but I feel like I’m on top of the car so of course that’s a positive. We can go into the next test and do the work we need to do so that we go to the first race in Barcelona with the best chance of winning.”
The season’s preparation is more than just the driver’s relationship with the team and car of course and Lynn has also been working hard on his personal fitness including a visit to the Red Bull Diagnostics & Training Center in Thalgau near Salzburg. “It is really nice part of the world, it is impressive, all the gym facilities, that was a great help and I am now pushing hard on my training, off to Finland in fact so that will be good fun.”
Fellow Junior Team newcomer Gasly has also been to the Thalgau centre for the first time but the 18-year-old Frenchman has also already had six days in a his Arden Renault 3.5 with tests at Motorland Aragon and Jerez. “For me the testing was really interesting and positive. It was great to be towards the front of the times sheets quite consistently so we know that the car is very competitive. We know that it is good at least over one lap, the next goal will to be to see how we go over a race distance.”
“We did one race simulation, one long run and it looks pretty good, I was regular, made no mistakes and the pace was pretty good so it seems good, we just don’t know exactly what all the others can do. The next time in the car is free practice for Monza and the first race, it is my first time there, it will be a bit different with low downforce but that’s my job.”
“It is is important to go on learning, for sure I have a lot more to learn about the car and to find the limit, to use the maximum potential of the car but I think the car is really competitive. Overall I was P3 for the Jerez test and I am pretty happy with that.”
Sainz is no newcomer either to the Junior Team or the Renault 3.5 series and after doing a partial season in 2013 the 19-year-old Spaniard is thrilled to be going after the title this year for the Dams team, last season’s champions. “The preseason testing was very good for us, overall I’m very happy. It was great to be quickest at Aragon, beating the the lap record. Then at Jerez we did a lot of good work. It is a track that is very good for testing, if you can make the car work well there it will be good at a lot of tracks.”
“So we concentrated on set-up, learning what we needed to do with the car without going to the ultimate lap time. We never ran consecutive sets of new tires which is what you have to do if you are after a time. We preferred to spread the sets between morning and afternoon to learn more in the different conditions.”
“I think we learnt everything we needed to, there is a very limited tyre allocation, we had ten sets and we used nine in the six days of testing, leaving us one set for free practice at Monza which we think is more important for the first race.”
The Monza race weekend and the start of the Renault 3.5 series is on April 12th and 13th with GP3 not racing until May 10th and 11th in Barcelona. GP3 does have more testing before that though with two days at Jerez on April 10th and 11th and in Barcelona on April 16th and 17th.