Last year Formula Renault 2.0 NEC was dominated by two chief trends – impressive one-off outings from Eurocup frontrunners and British dominance among the NEC regulars. And, in the very end, 2013 ended up no different.
With massive support of the series from Fortec and strong entries from ART, Josef Kaufmann Racing and smaller squads, the 2013 NEC field ended up quite strong but, in the end, was dominated by Matt Parry – the one driver who managed to match the Eurocup pacesetters from the get go.
Below, we go through the campaigns of the twelve most prolific Formula Renault NEC 2013 regulars.
United Kingdom, Fortec Motorsports, age 19
1st, 289 points, 5 wins, 3 podiums, 3 pole positions, 3 fastest laps
Parry entered the NEC as an automatic title contender having followed in the footsteps of 2012 champion Jake Dennis by moving to the series with Fortec after winning the now-defunct Intersteps championship.
The Welshman set out to match expectations right from the get go, taking double pole in the Hockenheim season opener despite the presence of numerous Eurocup regulars. Following three strong finishes in the first round, the Fortec driver scored a double victory at Nurburgring, a double victory at Silvestone and a win at Spa ? bossing around the field of regulars and denying the one-off Eurocup runners.
He’d end up getting just one podium in the final seven races in what was a rather messy end to the season, but his lightning start proved more than enough to wrap up the title, while the lack of results in the second half had very little to do with pace. A well-respected part of Caterham’s junior team, he is already lining up a deserved step-up to the Eurocup for 2014. Season rating: 8/10
United Kingdom, Fortec Motorsports, age 18
2nd, 230 points, 5 podiums, 2 pole positions, 1 fastest lap
Another Fortec man and Intersteps graduate, albeit with one less year of car racing than Parry,? Aitken went into the NEC season as a bit of a dark horse for the title.
At Hockenheim he certainly confirmed that status, with a quality qualifying performance allowing him to finish fifth in race one before two offs in the second and third outings. After a rather quiet round at Nurburgring, he took impressive double pole at Silvestone, yet he was narrowly overhauled for the win by Parry in both races.
His season maintained momentum from that point on, as he finished seven out of the remaining nine races in the top five, postponing his teammate’s coronation till the last possible moment. The young Briton has been making a fair share of Eurocup guest appearances in 2013 and there’s very little doubt that that’s where we’ll see him full-time next year. Season rating: 8
Norway, Josef Kaufmann Racing, age 17
3rd, 211 points, 3 podiums
Norwegian karting graduate Olsen came into the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC championship with little experience in cars, having made his debut in single-seaters in the Toyota Racing Series at the start of the year.
However, you wouldn’t be able to tell that from the Josef Kaufmann Racing driver’s season, as he drove a very smart, mature campaign. He wasn’t often the pacesetter, but the Norwegian finished all 16 races in the points, which allowed him to stay in the title hunt mathematically until the finale.
His first podium came at Silverstone and he added two more at Assen, generally looking completely on-pace with both NEC frontrunners and Eurocup guests in the second half of the season. Olsen has not made any guest appearances in the Eurocup thus far, but switching to the category with the JKR squad seems entirely plausible. Season rating: 8
France, ART Junior Team, age 21
6th, 190 points, 1 win, 3 podiums, 1 fastest lap (14/16 races)
While his main focus was undoubtedly the Eurocup campaign, ART Junior Team racer Pizzitola had quite an extensive campaign in Formula Renault NEC, only missing one round.
The Frenchman, having scored several podiums in the category in 2012, was ever present around the top three this year and finally managed his first victory in Formula Renault in the reverse-grid race at Hockenheim. He was stellar, but unremarkable, lacking those final tenths on his rookie rivals and not quite managing to stay out of trouble. Still, in a generally tough year, it was a good effort, which allowed him to round out the season in sixth.
Pizzitola’s future plans are currently on hold as he’s made the finals of the Porsche Junior Programme selection. He’s well worthy of the spot, but should it not pan out, another year in the Eurocup would seem pretty reasonable. Season rating: 7
France, ART Junior Team, age 17
7th, 144 points, 1 podium
Seventh in French F4’s quality 2012 field, Jamin made the reasonable move to Formula Renault 2.0 NEC and, in the end, wound up matching expectations.
He had a very rocky start at Hockenheim and then a similarly tough Nurburgring weekend, despite putting in a massively improved qualifying effort. However, since his first points finish in race five, he would not miss out on the top 20 again and became a regular at the front. At Silverstone, he took fourth in race one and followed it up with his first podium.
He wouldn’t match that level of performance again, but picked up a lot more points to round out the season. Jamin has had a guest outing with ART in the Eurocup and all signs point to him joining the category full-time in 2014. Season rating: 7
Poland, JD Motorsport, age 18
8th, 135 points
After a decent first year in cars in ADAC Formel Masters, 2013 saw Dalewski become a Formula Renault regular, kicking off a full-time campaign in the NEC alongside outings in other categories.
The Polish youngster did exactly what he did in his rookie season, consistently finishing in the points and being one of the more reliably rapid NEC regulars. He had incidents throughout and failed to capitalize on the rounds where Eurocup guests were not present, but even with the lack of podiums he easily made the top ten in the standings, showing noticeable improvement throughout the season.
Dalewski is also expected to move up into the Eurocup in 2014 ? he appears to have the budget and will surely not look out of place. He is also testing in GP3, though. Season rating: 7
United Kingdom, Mark Burdett Racing, age 19
9th, 127 points, 1 podium
Following a difficult first full-time rookie year in car racing in 2012 where he finished 19th in Protyre Formula Renault, Owens became one of the revelations of the 2013 Formula Renault NEC season.
He started the season matching expectations, with solid points finishes across the board ? and, after three rounds, sat in 21st in the standings with 31 points. But then it all changed. At Silverstone, he took his first podium in the series, as part of a five-race top ten streak.
He ascended further and further up the standings, only to be held back during the finale, where he spun out of another podium on the final lap of race one and then lost of points in an early crash of race two. Owens was present as a guest during the Eurocup finale at Catalunya and, like so many others from NEC, has more than earned a step up for 2014. Season rating: 7
Thailand, ART Junior Team, age 20
11th, 123 points
Having raced Formula Renault 2.0 NEC in his rookie single-seater season, Thai racer Sathienthirakul opted for a sophomore year in the series, moving from Manor MP to ART.
The 20-year-old showed noticeable improvement this year, doubling his points tally. Again, just like in his rookie season, he was consistent, finishing all but two races in the top 20. However, the standout results were still not really there, with a fifth-place finish at Spa acting as the only really eye-catching performance.
Still, with this kind of experience under his belt and good performances in the part-time Formula Masters China campaign Sathienthirakul did this year, he might as well step up to the Eurocup. Season rating: 5
Mexico, Fortec Competition, age 17
14th, 109 points, 1 podium
Fortec protege Celis graduated from the Formula BMW Talent Cup in 2012 and, following a good run in the Panam GP Winter Series, made the switch to Formula Renault 2.0.
The youngster had a rough start to the year, failing to score in round one. From that point on, though, Celis was constantly showing ability, consistently adding points and getting two great top tens at Silverstone. His star moment came in the finale at Zandvoort, as he topped his qualifying group to get on the front row for the two races. The Mexican tumbled down the order in race one, but in the tough, washed out race two, he managed to hold on to a podium position.
Celis has made appearances in British F3 and European F3 with Fortec. A race seat in the latter is quite likely to be his goal for 2014. Season rating: 6
United States, Fortec Competition, age 19
16th, 87 points
Young American rookie Tveter made a surprise switch to Formula Renault 2.0 NEC in 2013, after beginning his car racing career in the Road to Indy ladder, which saw him race in the Star Mazda series last year.
Tveter had a tough start to his foray into NEC, as he had a four-race streak without points. As many other rookies, he found his feet mid-season in the Eurocup guests’ absence, with his best effort coming at Spa. He finished the season with some more top twenty finishes, but could not recapture the form, eventually winding down in 16th.
The 19-year-old has already done two guest rounds in the Eurocup and, as most others, could be stepping up to the category in 2014. Season rating: 6
Russia, Fortec Competition, age 23
17th, 87 points
Beregech is another sophomore driver among the NEC regulars, having competed in the series in his first full-time year in single-seaters? in 2012.
The Russian came rather close to doubling his points from his previous campaign and had a solid year altogether, with his best round at Silverstone and a similarly strong effort at Zandvoort. Still, for a second year, there were a bit too many retirements and quiet outings.
Beregech also had his taste of German F3 machinery in 2013, joining Performance Racing for a round. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if he ended up joining the championship full-time next year. Season rating: 5
19th, Switzerland, Josef Kaufmann Racing, age 16
Son of ex-F1 tail-ender Jean-Denis Deletraz, Louis was another Formula BMW Talent Cup graduate in the field, joining Josef Kaufmann Racing after a strong rookie year in single-seaters.
His first foray into Formula Renault turned out solid for the most part, as he showed flashes of impressive pace, but lacked consistency in qualifying sessions or races. His only top-five finish came at Silvestone, while Assen set the stage for his most impressive weekend. However, in the other rounds, he always had at least one lacklustre race.
Still, as a 16-year-old rookie, he has plenty time to iron out the issues. A jump to the Eurocup might be a year away, and, for now, he’d do well to return to NEC for a potential title shot. Season rating: 6
Eventual Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 vice-champion Oliver Rowland ended the season as the highest-placed part-time runner, making the podium in all eight races he did in NEC. His dominance was especially notable in the Zandvoort finale, when he blitzed the field on his way to his third and fourth victories.
Josef Kaufmann Racing’s Steijn Schothorst took three wins and made the top ten on all ten of his starts. Lotus juniors Esteban Ocon and Oscar Tunjo were also among the season’s victors, taking first at Hockenheim and Spa respectively. 2012 champion Jake Dennis completed the list of race winners.
Elsewhere, Roman Mavlanov, Alex Albon and Gustav Malja scored their maiden podiums in Formula Renault, while Mikko Pakari added two podiums to his sole top three finish in Eurocup 2012.
Best of the rest
French F4 graduate Victor Sendin enjoyed a number of good races in his half-year campaign, scoring a best finish of sixth and making the top ten four times with AV Formula before departing. Alberto di Folco enjoyed a convincing run in the second half of the year after joining the ART Junior Team, scoring eight times in nine races. Protyre Formula Renault’s Sam MacLeod was another three-round runner, impressing on his outings with Fortec despite a rather characteristic lack of consistency.
FR1.6 Sweden champion Erik Johansson took four points finishes in five races in the early rounds. BRDC F4’s James Fletcher and Singaporean karting graduate Andrew Tang were two other impressive rookies, both finishing on the outskirts of the top ten in their respective races.
Shahaan Engineer began a second campaign with Fortec and four top tens from the first four races made him look like Parry’s nearest challenger, but the Indian was absent from there onwards. French F4 graduate Fran Rueda did the full year with AV Formula with a sixth at Spa as his highlight, while Julio Moreno made the top ten in the two Silverstone races after stepping up from Formula Ford GB with the JTR team. Philopaz Armand had a solid but unspectacular rookie season out of karts driving another of Fortec’s entries, just missing out on the top ten at Zandvoort.