I find it interesting to compare the speed of the 3.5 Renaults to other series like GP2 and F1. Magnussen declared that the conditions were perfect when he set his times, but even so his 1m28.721 is pretty quick. Calado’s pole time in GP2 this season was a 1m30.655, and De La Rosa’s Q1 time was 1m27.555.
Also, I kept an eye on the live timing during last weekend’s races (I had no images), and the fastest runners were able to lap in the 1m33s and 1m34s consistently, in a 45-minute race. If you compare that to the lap times of the HRTs during this year’s Spanish Grand Prix (http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2012/05/13/2012-spanish-grand-prix-fastest-laps/), the 3.5 Renaults are not that far off.
In his final stint, De La Rosa is able to lap quicker (in the low 1m32s), but then he also had newer tyres. It does make me wonder whether Formula 1 ought to be a little bit careful when going for slower and slower regulations; I don’t know the details of the 2014 regulations, but if F1 cars lose both power and downforce, then certainly the slower F1 cars will no longer be faster than cars from the junior categories.