Robert Wickens retakes Formula Renault 3.5 points lead with Silverstone victory
|By Peter Mills||Saturday, August 20th 2011, 14:35 GMT|
Polesitter Robert Wickens claimed his third victory of the season at Silverstone this afternoon. The result moves the Carlin racer back to the head of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series drivers' standings.
The Canadian committed a couple of small errors in the initial stages of the low-downforce race, notably running off the road at Turn 11 on lap two, before settling into a composed rhythm.
Fortec's Alexander Rossi harried Wickens over the first half of the race, but the American's challenge faded with overheating rear tyres. Third-starter Daniel Ricciardo took advantage to pass Rossi for second into Village on lap 20. The battle allowed Wickens to make a three second break at the head of the field, which the former GP3 Series runner-up nursed to the chequered flag.
"Once Alexander and Daniel started fighting, I was quite grateful," said Wickens. "When the gap was 0.5s to a second I was comfortable, but I knew any small error would cost me the lead. But with a three second advantage I could almost cruise to the end."
ISR's Ricciardo recorded a succession of fastest laps towards the climax of the race, to close the margin of victory to 1.3s. The Perth racer was relieved to bounce back from a poor weekend at the Hungaroring in which he failed to register a score.
"A close second feels like a win," said Ricciardo. "Budapest was a disaster by our standards. I thought I was in for a boring race when Alexander and Robert pulled away at the start, but perhaps my tyres cooled down in clean air because it's very unusual to be set fastest lap in this series only one or two laps before the end."
Ricciardo's ISR team-mate Nathanael Berthon took a closely contested fourth place ahead of Epic Racing's Albert Costa and a very strong debut performance from Pons Racing's Nick Yelloly.
Athough the trio held grid order throughout, Costa briefly pulled alongside Berthon around the outside of Luffield on lap three.
Championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne suffered a troubled afternoon, and was unable to start from his seventh place grid slot. The Frenchman's Carlin car failed to engage first gear on the grid and was pushed into the pitlane.
From last, the Red Bull Junior driver recovered to 13th at the finish, but is under investigation as a mechanic was attending his machine, attempting to rock the car backwards and forwards, as the rest of the field embarked on their formation lap.
As a consequence of Vergne's non-score, Wickens opens up a 21 point lead in the drivers' championship. Rossi moves ahead of Tech 1 Racing's Kevin Korjus into third, some 57 points behind Wickens.
Results - 26 laps: Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Robert Wickens Carlin 47m12.720s 2. Daniel Ricciardo ISR + 1.335s 3. Alexander Rossi Fortec + 4.425s 4. Nathanael Berthon ISR + 13.965s 5. Albert Costa EPIC + 15.202s 6. Nick Yelloly Pons + 19.278s 7. Sten Pentus EPIC + 20.677s 8. Oliver Webb Pons + 21.183s 9. Kevin Korjus Tech 1 + 21.753s 10. Walter Grubmuller P1 + 25.885s 11. Sergio Canamasas BVM Target + 26.196s 12. Jake Rosenzweig Mofaz + 31.261s 13. Jean-Eric Vergne Carlin + 31.879s 14. Daniil Move P1 + 34.063s 15. Jan Charouz Gravity-Charouz + 35.415s 16. Anton Nebylitskiy KMP + 36.561s 17. Arthur Pic Tech 1 + 44.439s 18. Daniel McKenzie Comtec + 46.990s 19. Daniel de Jong Comtec + 56.970s 20. Stephane Richelmi Draco + 1m02.310s 21. Nelson Panciatici KMP + 2 laps 22. Brendon Hartley Gravity-Charouz + 3 laps Retirements: Cesar Ramos Fortec 21 laps Fairuz Fauzy Mofaz 20 laps Daniel Zampieri BVM Target 14 laps Andre Negrao Draco 7 laps