Round One of Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Series At Motorland
Aragon, April 18, 2011: Felix Serralles, the 18-year-old talented Puerto Rican driver and 2010 Team USA Scholarship winner, competed in his first professional international race this past weekend at the Motorland circuit in Aragon, Spain. The race was Round One is the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Series.
After numerous tests and preparation over the winter Serralles was ready to measure his skills against his fellow competitors. Felix is not the youngest in the field but carries the least experience with just a handful of Formula Ford and Formula Ford 2000 races in 2010, as well as finishing third in the Skip Barber National Series.
Felix got a taste of European formula racing in the 2010 Formula Ford Festival last fall with impressive runs. His family and Coach/Manager Nic Jönsson, decided the best path for the young Puerto Rican was to measure his skills again the best in the world in the open-wheel discipline in Europe. Jönsson, a former European open-wheel driver, reconnected with Fortec Motorsports owner Richard Dutton to set up a test and run the UK winter series in Formula BARC. Young Felix impressed the team right away with two victories and a second place finish. Soon a deal was signed for the 2011 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Series.
“I am very excited to be racing in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series with Fortec Motorsports,” said Serralles, who is currently living in Northhampton, England. “This is my first international professional racing season and we worked very hard over the winter to get prepared, including physical and mental preparation. I am really focused on doing everything I can to make a name for myself in open wheel racing.”
At Motorland, Serralles received immediate attention on his first qualifying run on Saturday, as he placed sixth in his group, despite being placed in the faster qualifying group. His time awarded him 12th overall in a field of 34 drivers with the seventh fastest qualifying time. Pole positions are set by the fastest time as well as by group.
“One thing Nic and I focused very hard on after practice was analyzing data and video after every session,” added Serralles. “Nic and I spent several hours just going over data and what I needed to change. It really helped me a lot. I really improved in the braking zones especially. We realized I was braking too early and not hard enough so I over slowed the entry to the corner and lost all the momentum for a good exit. But I’ve been able to change that after studying the data and Nic beating me up about it.”
Race 1 was Felix’s first ever race with a Formula One-type start and he quickly moved up from 12th to 10th.
“Three cars in front of him got together and Felix had to quickly maneuver to not get collected,” said Coach Nic Jönsson, originally of Sweden and now living in Atlanta, Georgia. “He went off track with all four wheels and avoided the three cars with brilliance. After a short caution period, the field had a clean start and Felix continued to work his way up to sixth place. After an attack from behind that pushed Felix deep into a braking zone and he locked up the left front tire two laps from the end, he lost a position, finishing seventh. This is a very strong and impressive finish in his first international race in one of the most competitive feeder series in the world into Formula One.”
“I am really happy with the results of my first race,” added Serralles. “Competition is very intense in this series. To be able to score points in my first race is really great. My team is really happy and I hope I can continue to impress them.”
Day two qualifying proved even better than his first. Felix took his time to get the tires up to temperature and find a good space between cars to get a clean lap without interruptions from other cars. He went purple in the first sector (this means the fastest time at this sector of the track). In the second sector he was still a few hundredths of a second ahead of the fastest estimated lap time but took a chance in a downshift in Turn 12 and over slowed, losing a few tenths of a second. His final qualifying time awarded him the third spot in his group and the third row, sixth position, for the start of his second race, out of 34 competitors.
“This is a phenomenal qualifying result for Felix,” said Jönsson, a recent class winner in the 12 Hours of Sebring race. “No one could ever dream of coming to their first international race competition and scoring points in the first race and qualifying in the Top Six. This is just fantastic! Felix has been working very hard on his qualifying performance to try to get the most out of the tires at the right time. He obviously got it right today.”
In Race 2 Felix got a fantastic start from his sixth position and was fourth off the grid but was squeezed going into Turn 1. Felix backed off a bit and tucked in the fifth spot going through Turn 2. He was working on his attack on the fourth spot on the long back straight, trying to get a bit of a draft under the wing, when a driver two cars back ran into the sixth place driver, who hit Felix and spun him around, causing left rear suspension damage. It was an unfortunate ending to a fantastic weekend through no fault of his.
“I’m really disappointed in being knocked out of the race by another driver’s error that I had to pay for,” stated a frustrated Serralles. “We had a really good weekend otherwise and I learned so much with the on-track experience and guidance from Nic. Learning better how to read data and make it work on the track makes me feel even more confident to come back and work my way to the podium.”
“This was a weekend we looked at as a learning process for Felix,” said Jönsson. “Felix had some great drives this weekend. I’m very proud and impressed, not by just his speed, but also his quick ability to learn from both listening and studying data.
“Felix is a very talented young driver with a fantastic, bright future in front of him. This is just the beginning of a long, successful career for the young Puerto Rican driver.”