Nurburgring FR3.5: Merhi wins as Sainz and Rowland collide
|By Glenn Freeman||Sunday, July 13th 2014, 11:31 GMT|
Roberto Merhi took victory in Formula Renault 3.5 at the Nurburgring on Sunday, while title contenders Carlos Sainz Jr and Oliver Rowland were caught up in a first corner crash.
As Merhi made a clean getaway from pole, Sainz and Rowland both attacked a slow-starting Oscar Tunjo on the run to the first corner for second place.
Tunjo briefly locked up as Rowland and Sainz turned in, and he clipped the Briton's car, tipping it sideways.
As that happened, Sainz and Rowland made contact, forcing Sainz into the gravel, while Rowland retired with front suspension damage after touring back to the pits.
A second multi-car incident between Turns 2 and 3 then accounted for a handful of other cars being forced to retire, leaving just 16 to take the restart.
When the racing resumed, Zeta driver Merhi led the Lotus pair of Matthieu Vaxiviere and Marlon Stockinger, and the top two were able to make a break as Stockinger was caught out at the restart.
Merhi could not shake Vaxiviere from his tail throughout the race, as the Frenchman - returning from a back injury this weekend - pushed him all the way to the chequered flag.
Stockinger resisted an attempt by Fortec to get Sergey Sirotkin ahead of him for third when the Russian pitted before him, but Lotus responded on the following lap, and after some defensive driving on cold tyres, Stockinger was able to pull away with ease to complete the podium.
Sirotkin gradually fell into the clutches of the chasing pack, and a lock-up at the final chicane allowed Zoel Amberg to attack him into Turn 1, but he was able to resist.
One of the major beneficiaries of the first lap accidents was title contender Pierre Gasly, who went from the back row of the grid to 10th in the first few corners, and finished the race in eighth to salvage three points.
That win moves Merhi up to second in the standings, 39 points behind Sainz and 15 ahead of Gasly.
Results - 23 laps: Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Roberto Merhi Zeta 43m22.428s 2. Matthieu Vaxiviere Lotus +1.373s 3. Marlon Stockinger Lotus +12.589s 4. Sergey Sirotkin Fortec +15.515s 5. Zoel Amberg AVF +16.422s 6. Norman Nato DAMS +16.997s 7. Will Stevens Strakka +18.024s 8. Pierre Gasly Arden +18.286s 9. Jazeman Jaafar ISR +20.817s 10. Will Buller Arden +21.697s 11. Cameron Twynham Comtec +25.786s 12. Alfonso Celis Tech 1 +26.411s 13. Roman Mavlanov Zeta +30.638s 14. Marco Sorensen Tech 1 +35.382s 15. Luca Ghiotto Draco +39.332s Retirements: Pietro Fantin Draco 17 laps Matias Laine Strakka 1 lap Oliver Rowland Fortec 1 lap Meindert van Buuren Pons 1 lap Oscar Tunjo Pons 0 laps Carlos Sainz Jr DAMS 0 laps Beitske Visser AVF 0 laps