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French F4 rivals Rougier and Martins become Renault juniors ahead of Eurocup moves

by Peter Allen

Photo: Renault Sport F1

French Formula 4 rivals Artur Rougier and Victor Martins have both been announced as members of the Renault Sport Academy ahead of their moves to Eurocup Formula Renault.

Rougier made his single-seater debut in French F4 in 2016, and beat Martins, in his rookie season, to the overall title last year. He drove with Fortec Motorsports and Tech 1 Racing in November’s post-season Formula Renault Eurocup test at Paul Ricard, regularly setting top ten pace, and has signed with Fortec for the 2018 season.

“[Joining Renault] is a really good opportunity for me as it?s going to be extremely beneficial for my career,” said Rougier.

“It?s a dream come true to join a French team, especially being a French driver coming from a French championship; it all adds up nicely. I?m excited to see Enstone and look around the factory and make use of the facilities they have there.

“I had a really great 2017, and it was a good battle with Victor.?For sure my target will be to be in the top five of the Eurocup. I?ve learned a lot about the Formula Renault car during winter tests and the feeling was really good. There?s still a lot to learn but I think it can be a good year if I can progress and adapt myself well.”

Martins was world junior karting champion in 2016 before stepping up to cars in French F4 last year, where he lost out on the title to Rougier in the final round.

He also contested the Eurocup test at Paul Ricard, and was second fastest on both days for the champion R-ace GP team.

He?will race for the team in the 2018 Eurocup, with fellow Renault Sport Academy member Max Fewtrell set to be announced as his team-mate.

“I?m very happy and aware of the great chance I have this year being part of a Formula 1 setup. I?m looking forward to seeing the team base at Enstone, meeting all the staff and using the facilities there. This is a childhood dream coming true and a step closer to F1,”explained Martins.

“It?s certainly an honour for me and I have great satisfaction in representing France in a French team. It?s a really excellent reward for a couple of years of hard work. I always dream of Renault, especially when I drive past the factory at Viry Ch?tillon in Paris I think ?someday I want to race for them? and now I?m in their junior programme.”

There will be one other Renault F1 junior on the grid, with SMP and Spanish F4 champion Christian Lundgaard racing for MP Motorsport.

Sun Yue Yang maintains his Renault backing for 2018, despite a disappointing season in the Eurocup which peaked with two 16th places in the opening two rounds, although he did get a fourth place in the Northern European Cup. The Chinese driver will race in BRDC British Formula 3 this year with Carlin.

Not so lucky were Jarno Opmeer and Marta Garcia, who were dropped by the French manufacturer are disappointing seasons in Formula Renault and Spanish F4 respectively.