#21 Neil Verhagen (USA – Tech 1 Renault)
Red Bull Junior Neil Verhagen lines up for the first race of his second Formula Renault Eurocup season this weekend at the iconic Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France. The 17-year-old American has joined Tech 1 Racing this year and the French squad were victorious in 2013 with Pierre Gasly. As a nice coincidence Gasly's current Scuderia Toro Rosso team mate Brendon Hartley was Renault champion in 2007 as a Red Bull Junior.
The path to F1 is clear and Verhagen knows that he must capitalise on the opportunity and started well with the preseason testing. "Yes I'm very happy with our testing. The lap times may not have been what some people were expecting but every team was doing their own programme and ours was to work through the tings we wanted to do. So we are fully prepared and I'm happy with the way that went, the team and I are confident going into the first weekend."
Ready for anything
"It's raining hard right now, (Thursday morning) and though it's due to improve on Saturday we are probably going to start in the wet and we haven't had that experience at Ricard yet so we'll learn some more. Anything is possible for the weekend really."
"It's been a good off season, the team and I have got on very well, we've covered a lot of areas, fixed a lot of things, got all the work done we wanted to and we are ready. I've had plenty of time in the sim at Red Bull Racing and my own physical training has gone well. I've also had time to relax and I'm absolutely ready for the season to start."
An interesting fact from the Renault Sport website is that since 2013 all the Formula Renault Eurocup laureates are now affiliated with an F1 team. Other numbers for the series are:
• 8 teams, 13 rookies & 14 sophomores this season.
• 9 circuits on the calendar also host Formula 1.
• 16 drivers within a second during the tests last month.
• 20 races, or two per meeting.
• 27 drivers representing 15 nationalities & 5 continents.
• 30 minutes + 1 lap, the new race length of the races (except Monaco).
Circuit Paul Ricard weekend schedule – all times CEST
Friday 13th April
9:00–9:50 Collective tests 1
13:45–14:35 Collective tests 2
17:20–17:35 Qualifying 1 (Group A)
17:40–17:55 Qualifying 1 (Group B)
Saturday 14th April
11:00–11:15 Qualifying 2 (Group B)
11:20–11:35 Qualifying 2 (Group A)
14:55–15:27 Race 1 - 30 minutes +1 lap
Sunday 15th April
10:05–10:37 Race 2 - 30 minutes +1 lap