Home Featured 2013 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 season review

2013 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 season review

by Ant Musker
Eurocup Formula Renault

Photos: Renault Sport/DPPI

It was a fantastic season of racing in the 2013 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, displaying a real depth of young talented drivers. The quality and competitiveness of the series this year was undoubtedly high, making it a superb formula for drivers to develop.

The championship itself was decided on the final race of the season, where after a phenomenal fight for the title, Tech 1?s Pierre Gasly beat Manor MP Motorsport?s Oliver Rowland to the crown. Tech 1 were also winners of the Teams? championship.

Pierre Gasly1. Pierre Gasly

France, Tech 1 Racing, age 17

195 points, 3 wins, 8 podiums, 4 pole positions, 2 fastest laps

Despite being extremely young, the highly-rated Pierre Gasly went into his second season of Formula Renault 2.0 as one of the favourites, having finished tenth the previous season. His move from R-Ace GP to Tech 1 gave him a platform to be more competitive and he took full advantage of that, securing the title at the end of the year.

Gasly?s speed and consistency were admirable, as he finished in the top ten in every race but one, when he made a costly unsafe return to the track at Moscow Raceway. Still, apart from that, he was mostly faultless, producing stellar, collected drives and absolutely mastering the art of the last-gasp lap in qualifying. He superbly handled the pressure of competing against a quality driver in Oliver Rowland, which spoke volumes for the strength of his character, so it was no surprise that Red Bull have signed him to be part of their junior team for next year.

Gasly has confirmed that he will make the step-up to Formula Renault 3.5 next year with Arden. With youth and the newfound considerable support on his side, he’s definitely going places. Season rating: 9/10

Oliver Rowland2. Oliver Rowland

United Kingdom, Manor MP Motorsport, age 21

179 points, 3 wins, 8 podiums, 2 pole positions, 2 fastest laps

After finishing third in the championship in 2012, Oliver Rowland will have been disappointed not to have won the 2013 title, despite the vast depth of the field. However, saying that, the Manor MP Motorsport driver did enjoy an impressive season, pushing Gasly all the way to the final race.

Rowland interchanged the lead of the championship with Gasly on numerous occasions but failed to match his rival’s relentless consistency towards the end and was left playing catch-up. He finished inside the top ten in all races except for two and may have regretted an overeager move on Gasly in the final race of the season, which resulted in a drive-through penalty and ended his title hopes.

Still, with three race victories and some other impressive drives, including a charge from 19th on the grid to third at Paul Ricard, Rowland’s season was an extremely eye-catching one. The Racing Steps Foundation driver can now look ahead to a deserved step-up to the 3.5 series with Fortec. Season rating: 8

Esteban Ocon3. Esteban Ocon

France, ART Junior team, age 17

159 points, 2 wins, 5 podiums, 1 pole position, 1 fastest lap

After a good debut year in the Eurocup with Koiranen in 2012, Esteban Ocon switched to the ART Junior Team and confirmed his title ambitious by being dominant in pre-season testing. Despite finishing 36-points shy of Gasly, he was never really in contention but the Lotus F1 junior certainly showed an upward development trend and glimpses of massive potential this season, completing every race and winning two of the last three races.

His maiden series victory that came at Paul Ricard, where he overtook Jake Dennis in the closing stages of the race in difficult conditions, was a particular highlight of his season. At Catalunya, meanwhile, he was the beneficiary of a collision between Rowland and Gasly, which allowed him to sneak into first and run away with the race.

Ocon also finished in second place on three occasions during the season and with more experience, based on this year?s showing amongst a talented field, he will begin to start turning those into race wins more regularly. The Gravity-supported driver looks set to compete in the FIA F3 European Championship next year with Prema Powerteam. Season rating: 8

Jake Dennis4. Jake Dennis

United Kingdom, Fortec Motorsport, age 18

130 points, 1 podium, 1 fastest lap

For Racing Steps Foundation driver Jake Dennis, finishing fourth is a brilliant achievement with the the quality of drivers on the grid taken into account. At the same time, however, he will have been disappointed to have ended the season without a headline-grabbing result.

When you look at his year-end stats, Dennis was always in and around the top-five, finishing in fifth on five occasions and in fourth on four. He was only able to achieve a sole podium place, which, seeing how he’s been in contention for the top three ever so often, will be frustrating for the 2012 Formula Renault NEC champion.

Nevertheless, an it was a rather positive year for the young Englishman, who without a doubt is extremely talented and will look to develop the ability to secure those extra special results in the future. He’s been heavily linked with a move to FIA F3 and has been tipped to join Prema in the series. Season rating 8

Nyck de Vries5. Nyck de Vries

Netherlands, Koiranen GP, age 18

113 points, 2 wins, 5 podiums, 1 pole position, 2 fastest laps

Nyck de Vries came into the 2013 Eurocup campaign as one of the favourites for the title. The McLaren young driver had finished fifth in the 2012 season with two podium finishes and looked likely to be the man to beat this year.

However, it did not turn out to be the case and, in the end, it was a season of great contrast for the Dutchman, who had a troubled first half of the year, but fought back to finish the season on a high note with some excellent form. The Koiranen man failed to finish higher than seventh in the first eight rounds of the series, with apparent team struggles hampering his ability to produce any substantial results.

From Hungary onwards, however, he started demonstrating the expected pace. With five podium finishes in the last six rounds and two race wins, de Vries proved he’s still got it and, if whatever issues he had early on had been sorted earlier, he would have surely challenged for the title. As of now, he looks set to stay on for yet another campaign in FR2.0. Season rating: 7

Oscar Tunjo6. Oscar Tunjo

Colombia, Josef Kaufmann Racing, age 17

99 points, 2 podiums

While there’s little doubt that he’s a solid driver, this was a season of under-achievement for Oscar Tunjo. Being 17 years of age but entering his third season in the Eurocup, he moved moved to Josef Kaufmann Racing who guided Stoffel Vandoorne and Robin Frijns to the past two titles, which made him a championship favourite.

But it didn’t quite turn out that way. A young driver, but already a race-winner at this level, he will be disappointed to have only added a further two podiums this year and gone without a win, albeit he still produced consistent pace and was a regular in the points.

The resulting sixth place in the standings was not that much of a letdown and the Lotus F1 junior remains a rather intriguing prospect. No confirmed plans for 2014 have been released, but he is expected to switch to FIA F3 as part of Renault’s return to the category. Season rating: 6

Egor Orudzhev7. Egor Orudzhev

Russia, Tech 1 Racing, age 18

78 points, 1 podium

Rightfully nominated for our ?Breakthrough Driver of the Year? award, Egor Orudzhev has every right to be delighted with his efforts in his debut season in the Eurocup 2.0.

After his graduation from French F4, it was not expected that Orudzhev would be so competitive this season. But, a year later, having bolstered his CV by achieving top rookie of the series, he established himself as one of Russia’s main prospects with some fine performances.

A fantastic opening weekend, where he secured a surprise maiden podium, was followed by a few retirements and lower-placed finishes but Orudzhev?s qualifying pace reliably inspired confidence. In the final three rounds, he went on a run of six straight points finishes, including two fourth places to cap off a season of great promise. He looks set to stay on with Tech 1 for another year in the category. Season rating: 8

Ignazio D'Agosto8. Ignazio D?Agosto

Italy, KTR, age 19

74-points, 1 race win, 2 podiums

A race victory in round seven at the Red Bull Ring was the absolute highlight of the season for sophomore driver Ignazio D?Agosto, who greatly raised his public profile after some exceptional pace in the Toyota Racing Series earlier this year and confirmed his progress back in a second season in the Eurocup with KTR.

His win might have been handed to him when his teammate Alex Albon was penalized for jumping the start, but D’Agosto confirmed his frontrunner status with other standout performances throughout. After only scoring points on one occasion in 2012, he built on that brilliantly with seven points scores this time around, with a podium in Moscow preceding his Austrian win.

The Italian should be delighted with the progress he made in his second year in the category and looks set to stay on for another attempt in 2014, having tested with multiple teams including Koiranen. Season rating: 7

Luca Ghiotto9. Luca Ghiotto

Italy, Prema Powerteam, age 18

69-points, 1 race win, 2 podiums, 1 pole position, 1 fastest lap

Luca Ghiotto delivered a massively eye-catching debut season in Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, having previously done two solid campaigns in Formula Abarth.

Remaining with Prema for that move, he adapted to the new series quickly and produced fine pace, qualifying inside the top ten for the first six races of the season, which included two group-topping efforts. Unfortunately, just like in Abarth, his race results were not as consistent, although he did manage to clinch a superb maiden victory at Spa Francorchamps. A maiden pole position also came his way towards the end of the season at Paul Ricard, but he couldn’t capitalise on that, having gone off at the start in difficult track conditions.

If Ghiotto manages to improve his consistency, he’ll be a huge asset to any team in junior single-seaters. For 2014, he’s looking to fast-track himself into Formula Renault 3.5, having tested with multiple teams post-season. Season rating: 8

Matthieu Vaxiviere10. Matthieu Vaxiviere

France, Tech 1 Racing, age 19

57 points, 2 wins, 2 podiums, 2 pole positions, 2 fastest laps (12/14 races)

The case of Frenchman Matthieu Vaxiviere is a mysterious one. The Tech 1 driver came into the Eurocup in 2012 as the French F4 champion, having finished ahead of fellow Eurocup men Andrea Pizzitola and Pierre Gasly, but in his debut season he struggled to match their pace.

Yet on the opening weekend of this year, Vaxiviere surprised everyone with a perfect run at Aragon – two poles, two race victories and two fastest laps in wet conditions. Suddenly he was looking like the French F4 champion we had witnessed.

However, after that display of dominance, we wouldn’t see Vaxiviere challenge for the podium again, nor witness him as a regular fixture in the top ten. Just one further points finish followed and, having seemingly fallen out with Tech 1, he was absent from the final round. He tested with Lotus in Formula Renault 3.5 post-season tests and will be stepping up to the category in 2014 with the Czech squad. Season rating: 6

Ed Jones11. Ed Jones

UAE, Fortec Motorsport, age 18

45-points, 2 podiums (12/14 races)

In a very busy season for Ed Jones, his Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 efforts have come as a nice bonus next to his more successful F3 Open campaign, where he took the title.

Still, the Fortec driver clearly put in a lot of effort during his Eurocup duties, with a season highlight coming at Spielberg where he achieved a double podium with two third-place results.

Jones accomplished what was expected of him this year, having massively improved on his rookie season, where he finished 28th. He has been widely expected to make the step to FIA F3 next year, albeit the team of his choosing has now become an uncertainty, as the 18-year-old has recently been testing with Carlin instead of Fortec. Season rating: 6

William Vermont12. William Vermont

France, ARTA Engineering, age 22

42 points, 1 podium

William Vermont is one of the oldest and most experienced drivers in the series and will probably have been disappointed with this year due to being unable to fight for regular podium finishes. However, he was still ARTA’s most reliable driver and didn’t do his reputation harm in a very tough field.

He was expected to be a strong point-scorer but, other than his first four races, he was not simply not consistent enough, failing to make the finish line on three occasions. Despite the trend, he achieved his strongest result at Spielberg with a second-place finish.

It is unclear where the Frenchman will continue in 2014 – if he stays in single-seaters, FIA F3 could be a possibility. Season rating: 6

Andrea Pizzitola13. Andrea Pizzitola

France, ART Junior Team, age 21

39 points, 1 podium

Runner-up to Vaxiviere in French F4 in 2011, Pizzitola actually bested his rival in his rookie year in the Eurocup last season, taking 12 points. He was expected to build upon that solid foundation and, while Pizzitola certainly improved on last year, the ART driver didn’t really manage to turn many heads in his direction.

The 21-year-old only managed three point-scoring finishes in the first six rounds and seemed ready to call it quits on his single-seater career, looking into the possibility of moving to Porsche racing. However, he then managed a very good end to the season with a fifth place and then a podium finish in the finale at Catalunya.

He tested in Formula Renault 3.5 post-season and is reportedly looking to move up, funds permitting. Season rating: 6

Steijn Schothorst14. Steijn Schothorst

Netherlands, Josef Kaufmann Racing, age 19

32 points, 1 podium

Steijn Schothorst is yet another sophomore driver who distinctly improved on his rookie season in the series, which he had ended 22nd with two points finishes.

But ultimately, Schothorst wound up present in the midfield, unable to repeat his frontrunning pace from his impressive early-season Toyota Racing Series campaign . His pre-season speed suggested he could have been a factor at the front, but he wound up generally fighting on the outskirts of the top ten.

He did have one very noteworthy result in a podium finish at Moscow Raceway, but could not turn his season around after that. For 2014, he’s likely to be looking at yet another season in the Eurocup, having extensively tested with Manor. Season rating: 6

Bruno Bonifacio15. Bruno Bonifacio

Brazil, Prema Powerteam, age 19

29 points, 1 podium, 2 fastest laps

Formula Abarth graduate Bruno Bonifacio encountered a mixed debut season in the Eurocup, earning some attention but largely losing out to his fellow rookie teammate Ghiotto.

He managed to secure a podium finish at Spa and was frequently able to fight at the front, producing convincing pace in qualifying. However, he severely lacked consistency and struggled to keep out of trouble.

Still, as the two fastest laps produced by him show, he definitely isn’t short in the talent department. He’s expected to return to the Eurocup with Prema next year and should be considered for a serious title challenge. Season rating: 7

Alex Albon16. Alexander Albon

Thailand, KTR, age 17

22 points, 1 pole position, 1 fastest lap

2013 saw a much more competitive Eurocup campaign for Alexander Albon, after he failed to score any points in 2012 and was dropped from the Red Bull Junior Team.

This year, now as a member of the Junior Lotus team, he managed to record four top-ten results, producing flashes of supreme pace but lacking consistency – something that was, perhaps, to be expected of a driver just into his second year in single-seaters. Albon?s most significant weekend of the season came at Spielberg, where the KTR driver claimed pole for race one. He went on to lead the majority of the race and would have probably secured the win if he wasn’t given a time penalty for jumping the start. In the second race of that weekend, Albon produced his best finish of the year in fifth.

The Thai racer has been present in post-season FR2.0 testing, mostly with KTR, and could look into securing a third year in the category. Season rating: 6

Mikko Pakari17. Mikko Pakari

Finland, Fortec Motorsport, age 18

17 points

Considering he finished 15th in the series in 2012, accumulating 30 points and one second-place finish, the rather anonymous sophomore campaign can be seen as somewhat of a backwards step for Pakari.

The Fortec driver was quite a bit more consistent than in his rookie year, but lacked that one takeaway result, only managing a best finish of sixth.

Then again, it’s hard to be particularly critical of Pakari, who, like KTR’s Albon, is just in his second-year of single-seaters. As such, he should seriously consider another year in the category. That would have to be with a different team however, with Fortec having seemingly already secured their driver trio for 2014. Season rating: 5

Aurelien Panis18. Aurelien Panis

France, RC Formula/Prema Powerteam, age 19

14 points

A stint with RC Formula did sophomore racer Aurelien Panis no favours, as the Frenchman failed to score any points in the first five rounds of the year.

He did pick up the pace after switching to Prema, though, and picked up points in two races – one of them being the wet weather thriller at Paul Ricard, in which he narrowly missed out on the podium.

Part of Caterham’s junior academy, he should have little trouble finding a seat for 2014. Season rating: 5

Rest of the field

Alongside de Vries, Koiranen’s other regulars – Guilherme Silva and Victor Franzoni – also struggled immensely, with the former failing to score and the latter managing just seven points.

Alejandro Abogado, Yu Kanamaru and Leo Roussel endured tough sophomore seasons, while French F4 graduate Simon Tirman spent the year getting used to 2.0 racing.

Jenzer Motorsport trio, Levin Amweg, Kevin Jorg and Marcos Siebert, were rather reliable midfield runners. Amweg and Jorg achieved one ninth place finish each, while Siebert claimed eleventh on two occasions.

Alexandre Baron, the 2012 French F4 champion found the switch to the Eurocup difficult, only completing half of the season, as did the 2012 Formula Renault Argentina 2.0 champion Javier Merlo.

Series rookie Gustav Malja had a decent first year with Josef Kaufmann Racing, coming up a bit short in the points department, yet showing promising pace. Meanwhile, the experienced Benjamin Bailly led the RC Formula team and was closest to picking up points for the squad, which also ran Roman Mavlanov.