Renault has announced that three of its current Renault Sport Academy squad will further their understanding of F1 with a run in the Renault R.S.18 at the Bahrain International Circuit later this month.
The four-day R.S.18 testing programme in Bahrain will feature newly-crowned FIA Formula 3 Champion Oscar Piastri and 2020 FIA Formula 2 race winners, Christian Lundgaard and Guanyu Zhou.
Nineteen-year-old Dane Lundgaard, currently fourth in the Formula 2 championship with only two rounds remaining, will be in action on day one of the test (29 October) marking his third time in a Formula 1 car. He has so far won two races in his maiden F2 season.
Taking over from Lundgaard (centre right) for day two (30 October) for his first-ever experience in a Formula 1 car will be Piastri (top right). The Australian joined the Academy earlier this year following his triumph in the 2019 Formula Renault Eurocup and sealed back to back titles with the F3 crown this season.
Rounding off the final two days of the test for the Academy (1-2 November) will be Formula 2 driver, Guanyu Zhou. The Chinese driver is Renault's Test Driver and currently sits eighth in the 2020 standings with one win and five podiums this year.
"The tests in Bahrain are part of a planned programme that the Academy has delivered every year for the past three years," said Mia Sharizman, Renault Sport Academy Director. "It's a good opportunity for us to show the progression and level of achievement of the drivers in the Academy.
"Christian and Zhou will be in the R.S.18 for a second time, whilst Oscar will be experiencing his first time in a Formula 1 car as a reward for winning the FIA Formula 3 title plus it is part of his continued progression in the Academy. The plan for the testing days often varies depending on experience, so Oscar's day will be about getting him up to speed and familiar with the car. For Zhou and Christian, their days will be shaped like an actual race weekend, with practice, qualifying and race simulations.
"Bahrain is a very good test location for us, and beneficial for both Zhou and Christian who will race here later in November for the final two rounds of the FIA Formula 2 Championship."
"I am very excited to be testing the R.S.18 next weekend," said Lundgaard. "I've done two test days before in a Formula 1 car, so we'll be looking to build on where I left off. I've never actually raced in Bahrain, so doing the test will be valuable for me especially since I'm driving there for the final two rounds of championship. We'll be looking to use the test to prepare for the race and also for me to learn more about the car. There is nothing better than learning a track in an F1 car, so that's going to be pretty exciting."
"It's safe to say I am very excited to be driving the R.S.18 next week in Bahrain," added Piastri. "Obviously, it will be my first test in a Formula 1 car, so it will definitely be a moment to cherish and remember for a very long time. It's not every day that you get the opportunity to drive an F1 car, so I am very grateful to the team for the opportunity. There will be lots to learn on the day, such as getting used to the power, downforce and braking of the car and it will all be a challenge, but I love tackling new ones. I drove the Bahrain circuit earlier this year when we did the FIA Formula 3 pre-season test, but I've obviously never lapped the circuit in an F1 car, so I can't wait to get out on track."
"It will be my second time driving the R.S.18," said Zhou (lower right), "so I'm looking forward to getting back behind the wheel. My past experience with the R.S.17 and 18 was all about getting familiar with the car, whilst this year it's been geared towards some of the smaller aspects, such as finding the right balance in the car and identifying what set-up suits me best. This time out the test will also be focused on getting into a full rhythm of an actual F1 race weekend. It's extremely useful to do these days, as I learn a lot from them and they will help make sure I am ready for a seat in Formula 1. It'll also be good to drive around the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain a few weeks ahead of our final two rounds there in the championship."
Check out our Thursday gallery from Portimao, here.