Jean-Eric Vergne and Robert WickensCarlin’s Robert Wickens and Jean-Eric Vergne made a good start to the Monaco round of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series today, following free practice around the glittering principality. Marussia backed Wickens led for the majority of the session and finished second overall, while Vergne was 14th fastest on his first visit to the F1 track.

The Formula Renault 3.5 drivers were the first to take the track this morning, ahead of the 69th Monaco Grand Prix. Championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne makes his first visit to Monaco this weekend, the reigning British F3 champion’s aim was to complete as many laps as possible this morning without incident.

Team mate Robert Wickens already has experience of the infamous circuit, having raced here with Carlin in 2008. The Canadian wasted no time in getting on the pace this morning and was quickest for the majority of the session.

Remarkably there were no red flags to halt proceedings this morning, although several yellow flags did impede the Carlin drivers’ progress around the tight and twisting Monaco circuit.

Both the Carlin men completed long runs in the first half of the session to gain as much experience as possible of the circuit and assess the track conditions. When the majority of the drivers pitted to make changes and switch to new tyres, Wickens was still quickest overall.

With the majority of drivers on new tyres in the final minutes of the session, the lap times began to tumble. Wickens stayed with the front runners however, and remained quickest until F1 reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo just beat him to the top spot, with Wickens consequently finishing the session a very competitive second.

Vergne meanwhile was also making progress and had learnt a lot in his 45 minutes on track. It’s an action packed weekend for Vergne, who flies back to the UK today to help Red Bull Racing with its simulator programme ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix. With a big gap in the FR3.5 schedule, Vergne will return to Monaco on Friday night ahead of qualifying on Saturday morning.

Speaking about his practice session, Wickens said, “It was a pretty straight forward session, I was surprised with the lack of delays but I felt great and the car was really well balanced. We definitely still have room to improve, but I’m very happy with the start we’ve made.”