Alex maintains Eurocup debutants lead at Monaco

Solid results at Monaco have kept Alex the leading first-year competitor driver in the 2017 Formula Renault Eurocup series.

The 17 year-old Hobart driver posted a pair of sixth placings in his debut at the legendary Formula 1 street circuit.

Alex’s performance was all the more creditable considering the round’s unique format and his two-position starting grid penalty for the first race.

He raised eyebrows in the Formula 1 pit lane by clocking the second-fastest lap in Thursday’s single all-in practice session. That was followed by fifth of the 30 drivers after Friday’s split-field qualifying session.

MONACO (MC) MAY 25-28-2017 – Grand Prix de Monaco 2017. Alex Peroni #17 Fortec Motorsport. Action. © 2017 Diederik van der Laan / Dutch Photo Agency

In Saturday’s first race he held station throughout the 18 laps on the narrow 3.78km circuit, which is notorious for making overtaking virtually impossible unless the driver ahead makes a mistake.

After the race his seventh placing was upgraded to sixth when the fourth-placed driver received a time penalty for a false start.

Alex’s chances of replicating his Pau pole position for the second Monaco race were stymied by the principality round’s unique format.

Unlike the usual schedule of a qualifying session for each race, Monaco’s second race grid was set according to the Friday qualifying session but with each group on the other side of the track.

Consequently Alex lined up sixth, and with no opportunity to improve during the race he finished in that position, picking up more valuable points for the championship.

He is now in fifth position overall in the Eurocup pointscore after four of 10 rounds, and remains the series’ leading debutant.

MONACO (MC) MAY 25-28-2017 – Grand Prix de Monaco 2017. Alex Peroni #17 Fortec Motorsport. Action. © 2017 Diederik van der Laan / Dutch Photo Agency

Alex was relieved to have racked up points in both Monaco races.

“After being second-fastest in the practice session I was looking forward to the prospect of another chance of getting on the podium,” he said.

“Eurocup was the first practice session for the race meeting, so the track was really slippery. But by Friday there was more grip from the rubber laid down by the Formula 1s and other cars.

“Like the other teams we had to take a guess at car set-up for the different track conditions in qualifying. We got it close but not quite right.

“The Saturday race showed how important it is to qualify at the top of the field at Monaco.

“We’d improved the car’s set-up and I was able to hold my position, but there was no way to overtake.

“With no qualifying session for the Sunday race, and starting sixth, it was all about staying on the track and maintaining position.

“Even though it would have been nice to get a podium this weekend, racing at Monaco is amazing. There’s no other circuit in the world like it!

“Eurocup is incredibly competitive for newcomers, and even tougher here with only one practice session and one qualifying session. There’s no second chance.

“Thanks to Fortec Motorsport and my sponsors Blundstone, RACT, United, Renault Australia and Richardson Devine Marine.”

The 2017 Formula Renault Eurocup continues with round 5 at the Hungaroring on July 1-2.

ALEX PERONI’S 2017 FORMULA RENAULT EUROCUP RESULTS

ROUND 4 – MONTE CARLO (MONACO), MAY 25-28

QUALIFYING: 3rd in Group A

RACE 1: Starting position – 7th (2-position grid penalty); Result – 6th

RACE 2: Starting position – 6th; Result – 6th

POINSTCORE POSITION: 5th (67 points) of 30 drivers

NEXT ROUND: Hungaroring (Hungary), July 1-2

Alex breaks through with Eurocup race win!

Alex has scored a stunning maiden Formula Renault Eurocup race win at Pau in southern France.

Alex led all the way from pole position in Sunday’s second race in round 3 of Renault Sport’s flagship international openwheeler series.

He held fellow front row qualifier Sacha Fenestraz at bay for the entire 21-lap/58km distance on the 2.76km street circuit.

PAU (FRA) MAY 19-21 2017 – Third round of the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup at Grand Prix de Pau. Alex Peroni #17 Fortec Motorsports. © 2017 Sebastiaan Rozendaal / Dutch Photo Agency

It was no cruise for Hobart-born Alex, though.

After carving out a lead of almost two seconds in the latter stages of the race, he suddenly found Fenestraz less than half a second behind while cautiously lapping a tailender on the penultimate lap and also slowing for double waved yellow flags.

But he stayed cool until the chequered flag to score his breakthrough Eurocup race win by 0.52 seconds.

His success followed a solid fifth placing in Saturday’s first race, and vaulted him to fourth outright and first Eurocup debutant in the 2017 pointscore.

Alex’s results were all the more meritorious considering he hadn’t raced at Pau before.

He set the fastest lap in the first of Friday’s two practice sessions despite steady rain falling throughout the session.

PAU (FRA) MAY 19-21 2017 – Third round of the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup at Grand Prix de Pau. Alex Peroni #17 Fortec Motorsport. Action. © 2017 Diederik van der Laan / Dutch Photo Agency

On Saturday he was in the mix for pole position for race 1 until a minor error cost him the opportunity to set a final quick lap.

But on Sunday it all came together, starting with a new fastest qualifying time at Pau for the 2-litre Formula Renault category.

After winning race 2, an elated Alex described how Fenestraz’s constant pressure, the serpentine street circuit and warm weather made it a tough day at the office.

“I had to push very hard for the whole race, with Sacha just behind me,” he said.

“I love driving at Pau, but it’s a very demanding circuit.

“The guardrails on both sides of the track leave no margin for error, and they keep the heat on the track. It was hot out there!

“I was surprised to be so competitive here, considering the leading drivers have raced here before.

“And Friday morning’s practice session was wet, which wasn’t a lot of help for the dry weekend.

“Qualifying on Saturday was a bit disappointing. There was a chance of getting on the front row, but I broke my front wing on a kerb just before the end of the session when everyone was setting their best times.

“In the race I was held up, but it’s nearly impossible to overtake on a street circuit unless the driver ahead makes a mistake.

“The first 10 placings didn’t change for the whole race!

“Thanks as always to Fortec Motorsport and my sponsors Blundstone, RACT, United, Renault Australia and Richardson Devine Marine.”

The 2017 Formula Renault Eurocup continues next weekend with its showpiece round at the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix.

ALEX PERONI’S 2017 FORMULA RENAULT EUROCUP RESULTS

ROUND 3 – PAU (FRANCE), MAY 20-21

RACE 1: Starting position – 5th (3rd fastest in Group B); Result – 5th

RACE 2: Starting position – pole (fastest in Group B); Result – 1st

POINSTCORE POSITION: 4th (51 points) of 30 drivers

NEXT ROUND: Monaco (France), May 25-28

More promise and disappointment at Silverstone

Alex  had a second successive promising Saturday and a disappointing Sunday in Round 2 of the 2017 Formula Renault Eurocup Series at Silverstone.

As in the opening round at Monza, the 17 year-old Tasmanian qualified strongly to start sixth of the 30 drivers in the first of two races at the British Grand Prix circuit.

In a typically rough-and-tumble affair, he maintained his starting position to repeat his Monza achievement of highest-placed Eurocup debutant.

His fastest lap in the race was second only to winner Will Palmer’s.

SILVERSTONE (GBR) MAY 12-14 2017 – Second round of the Renault Eurocup FR2.0 at Silverstone circuit. Alex Peroni #17, Fortec Motorsports. Action. © 2017 Co van der Gragt / Dutch Photo Agency.

Unfortunately Alex’s second race at Silverstone also paralleled his Monza one.

He was on the pace in qualifying until the final minutes, when the chequered flag waved just before he crossed the Start-Finish line, denying him a crucial last lap on the rapidly drying track.

From his midfield starting position, he suffered a puncture after contact with another driver – co-incidentally the same one he clashed with in a race-ending tangle in the second race at Monza!

SILVERSTONE (GBR) MAY 12-14 2017 – Second round of the Renault Eurocup FR2.0 at Silverstone circuit. Alex Peroni #17, Fortec Motorsports. Action. © 2017 Klaas Norg / Dutch Photo Agency.

At least this time he was able to drive back to the pits for a replacement tyre, and although he rejoined last he regained seven positions in the closing laps.

Despite finishing only half of the four Eurocup races held so far, Alex sits 10th and best-placed of the four Australian drivers contesting the flagship Formula Renault international series.

Afterwards he reflected on another promising but ultimately disappointing Eurocup round.

“This was always going to be a tough weekend, being my first time racing at Silverstone,” he said.

“It’s a more technical circuit than Monza, but even though both of Friday’s practice sessions were wet I was happy to set the third-fastest time in the last session.

“Saturday’s qualifying session was tricky on a drying track, so I was satisfied with third-fastest lap in my group, only half a second off the fastest time.

“That became sixth on the starting grid with the two qualifying groups lining up on either side of the grid.

“I lost a couple of places on the first lap, but as the race went on my car picked up pace and I was able to get within reach of the drivers fighting over second place.

“Although there weren’t enough laps left to improve my position, I was happy to set the second-fastest race lap.

“Sunday started badly when I was the first driver in my qualifying group to receive the chequered flag on a drying track.

“I’d been on the leaders’ pace, but missing that last lap put me several positions further back.

“Starting the race 13th meant it was going to be hard to get into the top 10 to score points.

“But that disappeared early in the race when Pedro Chaves hit me from behind, deflating a tyre.

“He couldn’t continue, but my car wasn’t damaged apart from the flat tyre so I drove back to the pits for another one.

“The Fortec Motorsport crew did a great job to get me back into race during the Safety Car without losing a lap.

“Even though the replacement tyre was older than the other three, I managed to make up some places before the end of the race.

“Like at Monza, Silverstone was another case of a good Saturday and a bad Sunday.

“I’m confident that even though this is my first year in Eurocup I can race with the leaders, who are in their second year.

“But it’s so competitive at the front that the smallest problem during a race weekend really costs you.

“In the first two rounds I’ve had some good results and some disappointing ones, but I’ll keep doing my absolute best in every practice and qualifying session and race.

“Thanks as always to Fortec Motorsport and my sponsors Blundstone, RACT, United, Renault Australia and Richardson Devine Marine.”

The 2017 Formula Renault Eurocup continues next weekend at the Pau street circuit in France, followed a week later by the series’ showpiece round at the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix.

ALEX PERONI’S 2017 FORMULA RENAULT EUROCUP RESULTS

ROUND 2 – SILVERSTONE (UK), MAY 13-14

RACE 1: Starting position – 6th; Result – 6th

RACE 2: Starting position – 13th; Result – 21st (pit stop to replace punctured tyre)

POINSTCORE POSITION: 10th (16 points) of 30 drivers

NEXT ROUND: Pau (France), May 20-21

FORMULA RENAULT EUROCUP

Eurocup is the flagship international series for Renault’s 2-litre openwheeler racing car, which is also raced in several national Formula Renault series.

The category has been a stepping stone in the Formula 1 careers of Australia’s Daniel Riccardo, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, and Kimi Raïkkönen, and past F1 stars Alain Prost and Jacques Laffite.

The 10-round 2017 Eurocup series visits the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix and legendary Formula 1 circuits Monza, Silverstone, Hungaroring, Nurburgring, Red Bull Ring, Paul Ricard, Spa-Francorchamps and Barcelona.

2017 SCHEDULE

  1. April 22-23  Monza, Italy

  2. May 13-14  Silverstone, Great Britain

  3. May 20-21  Pau, France

  4. May 26-28  Monte Carlo, Monaco

  5. July 1-2  Hungaroring, Hungary

  6. July 15-16  Nurbürgring, Germany

  7. July 22-23  Red Bull Ring, Austria

  8. August 26-27  Paul Ricard, France

  9. September 23-24  Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium

10. October 28-29  Barcelona, Spain