The series that PaddockScout awarded the title of ?championship of the year? in 2013 returns this weekend as the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 kicks off at Aragon.
The category also delivered ?Title fight of the year? with Pierre Gasly beating Oliver Rowland in a dramatic battle which went down to the final race of the season after many twists and turns.
Overall it was a highly-competitive and thrilling season with much more of the same quality and excitement expected over the seven rounds which will be contested.
Here we take an early look at the drivers who will be involved in the 24th season of the two-litre series.
Tech 1 Racing
2013: Seventh in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0
Orudzhev was nominated for our ?Breakthrough driver? award last season after what was a surprisingly brilliant campaign for him in the Eurocup where he impressed immensely with his consistent finishing and strong qualifying pace.
Egor is being prepared for a title assault this year after eight finishes in the top ten last season, with just two retirements and a podium on the opening weekend. It was his only one of the season, however, you would be surprised if he does not finish on their more regularly this year as he stays with the teams? champions.
The Russian has not been overly competitive in pre-season testing but with the experience of last year and the quality shown, we could see an improvement on his seventh place finish as Tech 1 look to follow up Gasly?s title with another.
2013: French F4 Champion
As usual, the natural development for the champion of the French F4 category is to join the ranks of Formula Renault. And for Anthoine Hubert, he is no exception.
He recorded 11 victories on his way to the title in 2013. As ever, it is about how a driver makes the step up to the next level. For example, Alex Baron, who dominated the French F4 championship in a similar fashion to Hubert, struggled massively last year completing just the first four rounds with no points- to many people?s surprise.
So it will be interesting to see how Hubert gets on. He has recorded two tenth place finishes in the Alps series already this year and has had appeared in the top-ten quite frequently in pre-season testing, including topping the times in an afternoon session at Paul Ricard. He will be worth keeping a close eye on this season with Tech 1 stating their ambitions for the rookie and predicting a top-five finish.
2013: Eighth in WSK Euro Series – KF
Romanov is another rookie brought in alongside lead man and compatriot Orudzhev. Arriving for his first season in single-seaters from karts, Tech 1 are hoping that Romanov can adapt quickly to the new formula and achieve some points finishes.
However, it will be a tough task in what is a field of deep quality. A year of learning lies ahead, although the Russian has already got 12 car races under his belt in the Florida Winter Series.
Judging on testing times, it could be a fight to be competitive in the midfield for the Russian.
44. Luke Chudleigh
2013: 24th in Formula Renault 2.0 Alps
A wildcard entry for the opening round and maybe more, Chudleigh continues with Tech 1 who guided him in his debut season of cars in the Alps series last season where his best result was seventh place.
He is managed by the brother of Robert Wickens and has raced in North and South America at Senior Rotax karting level.
Unfortunately he started his 2014 season off with two retirements in the Alps, but will look for a better start in the Eurocup where he will have to acclimatise to the competitiveness of the grid.
ART Junior Team
2013: 18th in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0
Panis returns for another year in the Eurocup after last year where he featured for RC Formula before a midseason switch to Prema Powerteam.
The Frenchman struggled for pace with RC, scoring no points. His move did improve results as he went on to score fourth and ninth place finishes towards the end of the campaign.
Now with another new team this year, ART, he will hope to be in the points more regularly and he has shown signs of doing that by leading the final testing session in Catalunya back in March.
With three seasons of single-seater racing behind him and no major achievements yet, it could be a season in which Panis, son of Oliver, comes alive as he settles with a homeland team.
2013: 22nd in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0
Amweg is a former Swiss karting champion now embarking on his fourth year in single-seaters. Champion in the Formula LO series in 2012, he was a midfield runner in the Eurocup last year with one ninth place to his name.
He tested the Jenzer GP3 car over the winter but has instead continued in the Eurocup and has high hopes for his sophomore campaign.
After moving to ART for the upcoming season he will be expecting a much-improved year, which began promisingly with good pace in the Toyota Racing Series.
Nation: South Africa
2013: 13th in the ADAC Formula Masters
After being dropped from the ruthless Red Bull Junior programme after his disappointing 2013 result, O?Keeffe arrives in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series having now joined the Lotus Junior F1 team.
The South African has a strong karting background, having been the 2011 British junior champion. In 2012 he raced in the Formula BMW Talent cup and ended ninth overall before his tough time in ADAC Formel Masters last year.
He competed in the opening round of the 2014 FR2.0 NEC at Monza, but ended up with a retirement and a disappointing 25th place finish. His pre-season testing pace suggests he will be amongst the midfield runners this season, but with his ability should be aiming to break through into the top ten when he can.
2013: Formula Renault 2.0 NEC Champion
Parry will be seen as one of the pre-season favourites for the championship as he prepares for his first full season in the Eurocup after making an invitational appearance in 2013.
Parry has a big reputation after winning the 2013 McLaren Autosport BRDC award thanks to his five wins and championship victory in the NEC last year. A guest drive in the first round of the 2014 Formula Renault 2.0 Alps returned a ninth and 25th place finish for Matt.
He is a member of the Caterham Junior F1 team and the 2012 InterSteps Champion will be eager to lead a charge for the title with Fortec no doubt.
2013: Second in the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC
Aitken follows his Fortec team-mate Parry from last year in the Northern European Cup campaign where he finished as the runner-up.
Aitken was unable to record a race victory at that level but he displayed consistent pace along with three second place finishes. It will be a challenging step up for Jack but he will be familiar with the series, having completed three rounds in the Eurocup last season and recorded one top-ten finish.
His pre-season test in Jerez towards the end of March showed promising signs. He will certainly hope to be regularly amongst the fight for points at least.
2013: Second in Formula Renault 1.6 NEC and 1.6 Nordic
Fortec will run Estonian driver Martin Rump for their 2014 campaign alongside the top two drivers from the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC.
Rump showcased some exceptional pace at 1.6 level last season and certainly knows how to win a race after taking ten victories all together from the two series in which he contested.
He has been present at every pre-season test which will certainly benefit him with regard to track knowledge and familiarity of the more powerful car. His pace was not emphatic, yet he did manage to post times in the top-ten on four occasions.
2013: 13th in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0
Pizzitola returns for what will be his third year in the Eurocup. For the past two seasons he competed with the ART Junior team (formerly R-ace GP) but this year the Frenchman will represent Manor MP.
Pizzitola is one of the oldest and most experienced drivers in the field and that could play in to his hands as he looks to improve on 13th place in the standings. He has one podium finish and one pole position from 28 races in the series but this could be the year that Pizzitola produces a maiden victory, as he did in the Northen European Cup last year.
The 2011 French F4 runner-up has been in the top-ten for most of the pre-season testing sessions including setting the pace in the final session in Aragon back in February and a competitive season at the front seems likely.
2013: 14th in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0
In Schothorst, Manor have themselves another experienced man at the wheel. The Dutchman is another driver who will be entering his third year in the category and he has an almost identical record to Pizzitola, with a 14th place finish in the standings last year having previously matched the Frenchman?s points tally back in 2012.
He did record three race wins in the NEC last year, but ultimately his year with Josef Kaufmann was not as successful as hoped, as he found himself just short of the points on too many occasions.
It will be an intriguing battle between the team-mates who will be looking to take their games to the next level. Schothorst was fast at the recent test in Jerez, but that was also the case at times last season, so we shall see what he produces. Each driver has a fifth and third place finish from the opening NEC weekend so they are difficult to separate.
Josef Kaufmann Racing
2013: 20th in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0
Malja retains a seat with 2012 champions Josef Kaufmann Racing. 2013 was a year of learning for the Swede who arrived as a rookie from ADAC Formula Masters, where he had finished second to Marvin Kirchhofer.
Malja achieved one point-scoring finish in last year?s campaign, with an eighth-place result in Paul Ricard. He will be expected to improve this statistic in his second year, though his speed has not caught the eye too regularly in testing.
Doing full campaigns in both the Eurocup and the NEC will give him plenty of track time.
2013: Fourth in Formula Renault 2.0 Alps, 23rd in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0
Jorg will move from Jenzer Motorsport to Josef Kaufmann for the upcoming campaign. Last season was a struggle with the Swiss team as he was limited to just one top-ten result in the Eurocup. He proved himself in Alps though, finishing fourth behind the dominant Prema trio
Jorg should be expected to be a lot more competitive this year and has got himself off to a positive start with a win in the opening weekend of the 2014 Formula Renault 2.0 NEC championship in Monza.
Kevin has made a notably impressive improvement judging by his pre-season form where he has been quick, particularly at the test in Aragon. That suggests he may go well at the opening weekend and he is a dangerous threat to the title favourites.
Nation: United States of America
2013: 16th in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC
JKR?s third driver is American Tveter. He previously featured in the Formula Tour 1600 and the Star Mazda Championship before moving over the Europe last season.
Tveter completed two rounds last season in the Eurocup but there were no highlights from those races. His highest placed finish was fourth in the 2.0 Northern European Cup, where over the season his pace was varied. He scored two podiums in the Toyota Racing Series earlier this year, even though a series of incidents left him a lowly 17th in the standings.
It could be a tough season for Tveter who will have to adapt to the competitive Eurocup. His testing performances give the impression he will be appearing in the middle or towards the back of the grid.
Nation: New Zealand
2013: Toyota Racing Series Champion
Cassidy has made a late move to join Koiranen GP. The 19-year-old has struggled to nail down a European drive in the past two years but did take part in the first three rounds of the 2012 Eurocup.
The New Zealander is a double Toyota Racing Series champion, is highly-regarded and has certainly got the pace to score points despite his late arrival.
He had a poor weekend in Imola for the opening round of the 2.0 Alps season with a retirement and a 30th place finish but that was with the JCS team. Koiranen are a top outfit with strong team-mates, so Cassidy will hope to do better in Aragon and for the season onwards.
2013: Eight in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0
Eighth place overall last year in the KTR car suggested that D?Agosto was a very talented driver. Now having moved to Koiranen, the Italian will be aiming to increase his podium potential.
2014 will be his third season in the category and he has one win alongside another podium finish to his name.
It has been an inconsistent display of pace in pre-season from the 19-year-old but it would be surprising if he does not collect a respectable amount of points this season to build on last campaign’s very good work.
2013: Fifth in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0
De Vries is arguably the favourite to win the 2014 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 crown.
The McLaren young driver was fancied to claim the title last year but suffered a slow start. This is now his third year of competing at this level and in both seasons he has finished in fifth place. But his form in the last three rounds of 2013 was that of the Nyck de Vries which we expected to see.
If the karting sensation can start where he left off last year, with the same team, he will take some catching. Nyck warmed up for this weekend?s season opener of the Eurocup by producing a perfect weekend in the 2.0 Alps category. He will be looking to bring that faultless form along with him.
2013: Third in Formula Renault 2.0 Alps, 15th in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0
Quite possibly the strongest threat to De Vries is the Brazilian Bonifacio. 15th last year in the series but that did not reflect his overall pace, which was excellent.
He got to grips quickly with the new car in his rookie season achieving one podium and two fastest laps after arriving from Formula Abarth, where he finished third. He also finished third in Alps last year with three victories, six pole positions and two fastest laps, again highlighting the pace of the man.
Finishing second in both races as a guest driver in the FR 2.0 Alps opener to De Vries may be a sign of things to come and the start of an exciting title battle if Bruno can maintain a consistent driving level to go with his speed.
2013: Seventh in Formula Renault 2.0 Alps
18-year-old Villemi will compete for Prema in the Eurocup for 2014. Though only young, Villemi has featured many times in a wide range of Formula Renault categories since 2011.
He has completed full seasons in the 2.0 Alps, NEC, Eurocup and also UK final series before. His most impressive season was his seventh place overall finish in the Alps last year.
He appeared for two rounds in the Eurocup last season but finished all four races lower than 20th, driving for SMP Racing. He will hope the support of Prema can help him push on for stronger results.
2013: Third in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC
Olsen will move from JKR where he performed excellently in the 2.0 Northern European Cup last year to Prema Powerteam for his first attempt at the Eurocup.
Last year was only the Norwegian?s first season in single-seaters and he drew a lot of attention with his speed and consistency, finishing third having also gained great experience in the Toyota Racing Series.
Olsen has had a very positive start to life with Prema Powerteam and in testing is proving to be adapting to the series very quickly. He is very fast and could certainly make a huge impact in his rookie season.
2013: 16th in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0
Albon prepares for his second consecutive season with KTR and his third in Eurocup Formula Renault.
The British-born Thai finished 16th in the 2013 season and delivered one pole position and a fastest lap. His speed was very encouraging at times last year and he will hope for an even stronger performance with the added value of team continuity and understanding along with his own personal experience which he has.
Albon, who was regarded as one of the top karters and a rival of De Vries before moving to single -seaters, has been absolutely flying in pre-season testing. That, along with the experience and pedigree he has means the Lotus Junior must be taken very seriously this year.
2013: 19th in Formula Renault 2.0 Alps
The talented Ramsay will be joining the Eurocup grid for his first full season in the category.
Gregor has had a taste of Eurocup from last season?s part-time venture with both Euronova and Manor which will offer him some familiarity of the vast quality of the field. He has performed well at such a young age with a race win in Formula Abarth back in 2012. He, like Albon is another with a highly-respected karting CV and has also been signed up as a member of the Lotus F1 Junior squad.
He performed admirably in the 2013 FR 2.0 Alps season with Euronova, accumulating four top-ten finishes. Ramsay clearly has ability but it will be a year where he must be patient and learn as much as he can from the talent around him.
Age : 19
2013: Second in French F4 Championship
KTR?s third driver will be French rookie Gounon. The 19-year-old is entering only his second ever season of single-seater motorsport.
He enjoyed an impressive debut campaign last year though, taking second place in the French F4 championship with six victories along the way. Now he takes the inevitable step up to Formula Renault but without any experience of these cars bar his opening race weekend of the 2014 FR 2.0 NEC, where he finished with a retirement and a 14th place.
Importantly Jules has had a lot of running in the winter and looks set to battle it out with team-mate Gregor to be the second quickest of the KTR men, with Albon looking so competitive. We will see how the rookie develops as the season goes on.
2013: Fifth in Formula BMW Talent Cup
Allen will join the 2014 Eurocup field as one of the rookies. Last year, the 2012 Australian National karting Champion recorded one podium from the three-race Formula BMW Talent Cup Grand Final.
His lack of experience in single-seaters will mean it will be a year where the Australian will be most likely limited to the back end of the grid but it will be a great opportunity nevertheless.
James will also run in the Alps series to gather more experience at this level.
Arta will also run Swiss rookie Oskoui, who attempted to compete in the FR 2.0 Alps last year but was denied access by the Italian federation CSAI due to a contentious ruling? regarding his age.
Therefore he took a year out, but has been testing. Despite the fact he is still only 16 and has missed a full year of racing, Darius still boasts a strong single-seater CV with a sixth place finish in the French F4 championship which included a race victory. He also featured in the 2011 BMW Talent Cup with five podiums in nine races.
His youth, track record and enthusiasm suggests he will go far in motorsport and his winter programme has already shown signs he can mix it up with the midfield runners. Oskoui may be race rusty having been absent for the year but his pace will definitely be worth taking note of in his rookie year.
2013: 14th in Formula Renault 2.0 Alps
Gachet will be ARTA?s third driver for the 2014 season. The Frenchman drove for the team in the Hungarian Eurocup races last season and recorded a 19th place finish.
After a year racing in the FR 2.0 Alps, where he scored three top-ten results, he now looks to take on the Eurocup for a full year. He came third in the French F4 championship in 2012 and is the 2011 Single-seater V de V champion.
His season has started positively with two podiums in the FR 2.0 Alps at the first round which will be a boost going in to the race at Aragon. He has shown glimpses of pace in testing which would suggest he is going to be able to push into the midfield.
2013: Formula Renault 1.6 NEC champion
One of the oldest yet least experienced drivers in the field is Geerts. He arrives as the Formula Renault 1.6 NEC champion with three wins, eight podiums and two pole positions.
That was the 21-year-old?s first season of single-seater racing, but he does have Karting experience.
Roy made his debut in the 2014 FR 2.0 Alps opening weekend and recorded a retirement and a 14th place. He tested at the first winter test session with AVF but will have his work cut out this year.
Inigo Bikuna arrives in the world of single-seaters and will be representing AVF and is the youngest driver of the field.
Little is known about him, but he appears to be a karting protege of team boss Adrian Valles. The Spaniard has been absent from some testing sessions due to the taking of exams.
The sheer level of talent and relative experience in the Eurocup means that Bikuna will have his work cut out this year, but Valles has clearly seen something in him.
2013: Fourth in BRDC F4 Championship
Young British driver Graham will move to the Eurocup for his first season outside of the UK. Graham was a well respected karter and made an eye-catching first season in cars with his performances in the BRDC F4 Championship, finishing the year with the Winter title.
It will be interesting to see how Matthew adapts to the new formula. In the winter he tested with both Manor and China BRT by JCS and was particularly fast at Catalunya.
He did complete the opening NEC round at Monza and finished in 19th and sixth place respectably. It could be a strong and encouraging season for the debutant.
2013: Fifth in French F4 Championship
Isaakyen is an intriguing prospect for the 2014 Eurocup campaign, taking part as a wildcard at Aragon with the JD team. He may have only just turned 16 but he stunned the rest of the grid by leading the testing times at the opening session of winter.
He is a young man moving very quickly and has already finished ninth in the Toyota Racing Series this year, whilst five podiums in French F4 last year is a credit to him.
He was amongst the top-ten runners again on day one of the last pre-season test in Jerez before dropping further back on day two.
2013: 25th in Formula Renault 2.0 Alps
Another Russian making a guest appearance with JD, Korneev has already competed in the Toyota Racing Series this year and finished eighth, two points ahead of team-mate Isaakyan.
His best finish last season when contesting the FR 2.0 Alps was seventh, while in his one Eurocup weekend with Jenzer he achieved only 31st place and a retirement.
Korneev has also an 11th overall finish in the 2011 French F4 championship on his CV.
Motorland Aragon, Spain ? 26-27 April
Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium ? 31 May ? 1 June
Moscow Raceway, Russia ? 28-29 June
Nurburgring, Germany ? 12-13 July
Hungaroring, Hungary ? 13-14 September
Paul Ricard, France ? 27-28 September
Jerez, Spain ? 18-19 October