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Wickens Celebrates Canada Day with F1 Test

Formula Renault 3.5 Leader Enjoys World Series Prize Drive

Canada's Robert Wickens samples the Lotus Renault GP R30. Photo by Paulo PellegriniAs Canada Day gifts go, Robert Wickens undoubtedly received one of the best as the 22-year-old Toronto racer sampled a Lotus Renault GP R30 Formula One car at the Hungaroring in Hungary on Friday – his prize from the ‘World Series by Renault’ for leading the 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 Series at the half-way stage of the season.

Wickens, who was last month unveiled as an official F1 reserve driver for the Marussia Virgin Racing team, sampled several laps behind the wheel of the R30 at the 4.38km Hungaroring circuit – home of the ‘Hungarian Grand Prix’ during the scheduled thirty-minute session.  While Robert has driven a Formula One car previously in street demonstrations, Friday’s outing marked the first time the Marussia Motors-backed driver has been unleashed on an actual racing circuit in an F1 car.

Having enjoyed Friday’s F1 test session, Robert, in addition to competing in the weekend’s sixth round of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series for Carlin, will be back in action with the Lotus Renault GP on Saturday for another public demonstration run.

“It was great to get another go in a Formula One car,” stated Wickens following his outing.  “I’d like to thank Lotus Renault GP and the ‘World Series by Renault’ for the opportunity to drive the R30 this weekend.  Conditions were a little mixed for the run.  I started out on wet tires as the track was slippery but we quickly put dry tires on, though it was still damp, and I was able to pound around and get a few laps under my belt.

“I’m certainly very grateful for the track time, not least as my FR3.5 practice session ended prematurely this morning with an engine failure.  I’d only managed six laps but that said, it’s better to have happened in practice than in qualifying or the races.  I’m still confident for the weekend and to have started it with a run in an F1 car was another great experience for me.”

A victory and a second place podium propelled Robert back into the lead of the 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 Series at the previous round, hosted at Germany’s Nürburgring Circuit a fortnight ago.  A pair of pole positions at the same meeting underlined the Canadian’s dominance as he stormed to a 30-point advantage in the Driver Standings over Estonia’s Kevin Korjus (132-102).

With two wins and six podiums to-date, Wickens, who was last season’s GP3 Series Runner-up, is sure to build on that record as he targets his first European open-wheel racing title.

Round 6 of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series starts with Race 1 held at 1pm CET on Saturday 2nd followed by Race 2, also at 1pm CET, on Sunday 3rd July 2011.

2011 FR3.5 Series Top-5 Driver Standings (R5/9): 1st – WICKENS (CAN) 132pts, 2nd – Korjus (EST) 102pts, 3rd – Vergne (FRA) 102pts, 4th – Ricciardo (AUS) 89pts, 5th – Costa (ESP) 82pts - www.worldseriesbyrenault.com

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