Christchurch-born race driver Marcus Armstrong returns to 'wings and slicks' single seaters this weekend for his second Formula Renault championship race weekend.
Armstrong, 16, is preparing for the final round of the 2016 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 at Estoril in Portugal on October 15 and 16. He enjoyed a strong run in his single-seater debut at the Nurburgring last month with a best finish of fourth overall. Now, he says, it's about building on that result and gathering more single-seater racing experience.
"My goals for this weekend won't differ much from Nurburgring. I learned so much during that race weekend and I'm keen to pick up where we left off. Qualifying was not as strong as it could have been that weekend so I'm keen to improve this aspect," Armstrong said.
Armstrong raced as part of leading team R-ace GP in his debut at Nurburgring, and this weekend will once more join the team and regular drivers Max Defourny, Will Palmer and Julien Falchero. R-ace GP is currently second in the teams championship, and Max Defourny is third in the driver standings.
Eurocup Formula Renault is the leading category in the 2016 World Series by Renault (WSR) and racing across the Formula Renault 2.0 championships is watched by talent-spotters, team managers and also by Renault's own Formula One operation. Estoril will follow the format of other race weekends in the championship: a rapid-fire, high pressure race weekend with two 50 minute practice sessions, two 30 minute qualifying sessions and two 25 minute races.
"That means every second on the circuit counts, and I have to be consistent as well and quick - and of course stay out of the way of any incidents that occur."
Armstrong says he doesn't feel any additional pressure this weekend and is focusing on honing his skills and insight into single-seater racing.
"Naturally, my own expectation is higher, and my dad will be watching this weekend - no pressure - but I'm trying to approach this weekend as I did the 'Ring."
Armstrong has been racing karts in the KZ category all year in Europe, and returned to karting after his single-seater debut. He found the transition back from single-seaters hard.
"I find it tougher adjusting back to KZ from Formula Renault as the karting is very intense on the grippy tracks. It shouldn't take long to adjust back to the Renault, I'm more focussed on learning the circuit quickly as we have only two practice sessions before qualifying. Fortunately I have the support of a very professional team," he said.
British driver Lando Norris (who won New Zealand's premier open-wheel championship, the Toyota Racing Series in 2016) currently leads the championship and the grid will comprise many of the same racers Armstrong met at Nurburgring.
After this race weekend, UK-based Armstrong will begin a comprehensive winter testing program before returning to New Zealand in December.