Aurelien Panis tops first day of Formula V8 3.5 2016 testing

Arden's new recruit Aurelien Panis led the way on the first day of Formula V8 3.5 2016 pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya on Tuesday

Aurelien Panis tops first day of Formula V8 3.5 2016 testing

The Frenchman's time of 1m30.835s, achieved in the morning, was 0.454s quicker than fellow second year driver and compatriot Tom Dillmann.

"The morning session was quite good," said former Tech 1 Racing rookie Panis.

"I've always been with French teams, and things are quite different [at Arden] but I feel really proud to be in this team.

"This is something new and it's great to face new challenges.

"I'm sure that we can improve a lot tomorrow and during the entire season."

Like Panis, Dillmann finds himself in a new environment for 2016, having switched from Carlin to AVF.

"We decided to use new tyres only in the morning session, focusing on a long-run programme during the afternoon," said Dillmann.

"These days should be alright to put everything together before the first race."

FV8 3.5 newcomer Rene Binder, a veteran of GP2, took third overall for the Charouz-run Lotus team.

Emil Bernstorff impressed sampling Strakka machinery in the morning session by claiming third, and the GP3 race winner would complete the day in eighth.

Although there was little action in the first hour of the afternoon session owing to a high track temperature, several drivers found improvements, including two pres-season favourites.

Panis's Arden team-mate Egor Orudzhev, a double winner in 2015, took fourth, ahead of last year's Formula Renault 3.5 runner-up Matthieu Vaxiviere who spearheads newcomer SMP Racing.

Formula 3 graduate Pietro Fittipaldi completed the top-six for reigning champion team Fortec, leading recent Charouz-Lotus signing Roy Nissany

Formula Renault 2.0 NEC champion Louis Deletraz was ninth for Fortec, ahead of AVF racer Alfonso Celis Jr, who returned to the circuit where was in Formula 1 testing action with Force India earlier this year.

Koiranen GP3 racer Matevos Isaakyan in 11th edged out Teo Martin Motorsport stable-mate Yu Kanamaru, who is confirmed to race for the team in 2016.

Following Pons Racing's pre-season withdrawal from the series, Beitske Visser participated in the test for Strakka Racing and was seventh quickest in the morning session, before being demoted to 13th at the conclusion of the day's action.

The Dutch racer led RP Motorsport's test pairing of Euroseries Open champion Vitor Baptista and former GP2 regular Johhny Cecotto Jr.

Red flags in the three-and-a half hour morning session were required to recover the cars of Cecotto Jr and Bernstorff.

The timing screens were propped up by gentleman racer Giuseppe Cipriani, who has re-launched single-seater stalwart team Durango with cars acquired from Tech 1 Racing - which is focusing on its FR2.0 programme in 2016.

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