M2 Competition endured a tough weekend as the Formula Renault Eurocup entered the final phase of its 2019 season at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain.
The Belgian team’s lead driver Kush Maini showed strong race pace, but was undone by a sequence of unfortunate events, while new signing Kilian Meyer displayed he is a driver of immense potential, should he make the full-time step up to the Eurocup soon.
The 19-year-old; twice a rookie winner in 2019, and an overall podium finisher earlier in the year, made a big step forward during Friday practice; a set-up experiment from the M2 team proving extremely beneficial and allowing the Indian to set the fourth-best time.
After qualifying ninth – just 0.3 seconds away fro the rookie pole – he made a rocket start to climb to sixth by the first corner, but his efforts were undone immediately as he had to drive off the track to avoid a spinning car and broke his car’s floor after driving over a kerb.
Having dropped to the back of the pack, and suffering from poor handling due to the damage, he was withdrawn from the race towards the end.
A steering issue limited him to 15th in Sunday morning qualifying, but he recovered well to 13th spot with strong race pace. He remains sixth in the championship and remains second-best rookie.
Kush had a new team-mate at Barcelona with Spanish Formula 4 title contender Kilian Meyer replacing Patrick Schott, who suffered a broken hand recently and is missing the rest of the season on medical advice.
Barcelona-based Kilian, 17, arrived at the circuit direct from school on Thursday evening for a seat fitting and had his first laps in the car during opening practice.
Working with the M2 Competition team, Kilian achieved his aim of gaining experience in what was a brand-new car for the teenager and closing the gap to the established front-runners.
Running solidly inside the top-15 in practice, Kilian qualified and finished the opening race 16th and again finished where he started in a less-attritional Race Two to come home 17th; his best race lap almost half a second closer to the quickest overall than 24 hours previously.
Just two rounds of the Eurocup remain at Hockenheim, Germany, this weekend and then at Yas Marina in the UAE on October 24-26.
Kush Maini said: “Everything this weekend suggested we’d had the pace needed to score good points, we’ve just had a few things not go our way and unfortunately that happens sometimes. We made a big step between practice sessions and then again, after Saturday qualifying, we found something in the set-up that made me very confident for the race. I made a great start, but having to go off to avoid the spinning car ruined my race. Starting further back on Sunday, I knew it was going to be a tough race, but the pace was pretty strong. We had a long debrief afterwards and we’ve identified why certain things happened, so we’re all feeling pretty good for Hockenheim now.”
Kilian Meyer said: “This weekend was a fantastic opportunity to experience the Formula Renault Eurocup, and I’m incredibly grateful to M2 Competition for this chance. My first time in the car was on Friday in FP1 so the target was simply to gain as much experience as possible, take things one step at a time and reduce the gap to the drivers at the front across the weekend. We managed all these things, which is largely down to the way the team was able to support me and my development. The Formula Renault is a very different car to the F4 I’m used to, but I’m very pleased with the progress we made.”
Jonathan Moury, Team Principal, said: “It’s been an up-and-down weekend, but the big positive is that in Race Two, both drivers showed strong pace, and that puts us in a good position for the events still to come. We found something in the set-up that really helped Kush in FP2 and he made a mega start to Race One, but then broke the floor on a kerb as he tried to avoid a spinning car and that was that. We made a mistake with the car in Sunday qualifying that gave Kush a steering issue and stopped him qualifying well, but his speed was good; it’s just hard to overtake here in a single-seater. Kilian did a very professional job. He had to come straight from school on Thursday for a seat fitting and only drove the car for the first time in practice, but he applied himself very well and did everything we asked of him. These were the longest races he’d ever done and the steering is much heavier than he’s used to in an F4 car, so predictably the late stages of the races were quite tiring, but before that his pace was a big improvement from Saturday to Sunday. “