Robert Wickens produced a faultless victory in the opening Formula Renault 3.5 race of the weekend at Spa-Francorchamps.
The Canadian led every lap from pole position and completed his dominance by setting fastest lap. Wickens' Carlin team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne tracked the Marussia-backed driver throughout. But, unwilling to chance a risky manoeuvre on his stable-mate, the reigning British Formula 3 champion settled for second, 2.6 seconds adrift at the chequered flag.
Wickens' only threat came from front row qualifier Albert Costa. The Spaniard staged an audacious outbraking attempt on Wickens at Les Combes on the opening lap. After locking-up spectacularly, Costa ran wide over the grass on the exit of the corner and was passed by Vergne. Costa survived, albeit with heavily flat-spotted tyres, to round out the podium for EPIC Racing.
"The start was much better than Motorland [Aragon]," said Wickens, referring to his minor first corner mistake in round one. "But I knew I was going to be in trouble on the straight after Eau Rouge. Albert had a pretty good run, but fortunately he braked a little too late. After that I opened up a small gap and maintained it for the next 23 laps."
Costa's tyre problems delayed the progress of KMP Racing's Nelson Panciatici in fourth and Gravity-Charouz driver Brendon Hartley. Although the trio contested the final podium position closely, the only overtaking move occurred on the final lap, when Kiwi Hartley passed Panciatici into Les Combes.
Sixth qualifier Daniel Ricciardo lost several places into Les Combes over the duration of the race. The Australian's ISR car appeared to suffer from a lack of straight-line speed.
Alexander Rossi [Fortec] took seventh position from Ricciardo on lap three, but the Motorland winner was unable to pass P1 Motorsport's Daniil Move for sixth spot. The battling duo were separated by just 0.3s at the finish. Red Bull Junior driver Ricciardo would score just a single point after slipping to 10th.
Wickens' win promotes him into the lead of the championship with 53 points, four clear of Rossi. Costa lies third with 42.
Draco's Andre Negrao did not start the race suffering an illness that contributed to his qualifying crash. The Brazilian was up and walking on the grid, but had earlier reported to have felt dizzy. Technical difficulties caused KMP Racing's Anton Nebylistkiy to join Negrao as a non-starter.
Results - 22 laps:
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
1. Robert Wickens Carlin 46m34.016s
2. Jean-Eric Vergne Carlin + 2.694s
3. Albert Costa EPIC + 19.544s
4. Brendon Hartley Gravity-Charouz + 19.867s
5. Nelson Panciatici KMP + 20.958s
6. Daniil Move P1 + 21.919s
7. Alexander Rossi Fortec + 22.273s
8. Jan Charouz Gravity-Charouz + 24.697s
9. Sergio Canamasas BVM Target + 27.214s
10. Daniel Ricciardo ISR + 28.072s
11. Chris van der Drift Mofaz + 29.011s
12. Walter Grubmuller P1 + 29.663s
13. Cesar Ramos Fortec + 35.079s
14. Nathanael Berthon ISR + 39.601s
15. Jean-Karl Vernay Pons + 45.077s
16. Arthur Pic Tech 1 + 47.335s
17. Stephane Richelmi Draco + 48.731s
18. Daniel Zampieri BVM Target + 49.145s
19. Daniel McKenzie Comtec + 50.486s
20. Jake Rosenzweig Mofaz + 1m06.863s
Kevin Korjus Tech 1 10 laps
Oliver Webb Pons 5 laps
Daniel de Jong Comtec 4 laps
Sten Pentus EPIC 2 laps
Andre Negrao Draco 0 laps
Anton Nebylistkiy KMP 0 laps