Robert Wickens wins at Barcelona but Formula Renault 3.5 title rival Jean-Eric Vergne flies to second
|By Peter Mills||Saturday, October 8th 2011, 13:58 GMT|
Carlin's prospective 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 champions Robert Wickens and Jean-Eric Vergne will enter Sunday's title decider on five wins apiece after Canadian Wickens dominated Saturday's opening race at Barcelona.
Starting from pole position, Wickens led every lap to record a 21-second margin of victory and increase his lead in the drivers' standings to nine points. Vergne shared the plaudits following a stunning recovery drive to second, after a troubled qualifying session left him a lowly ninth on the grid.
Progressing to sixth in the first sequence of corners, Vergne benefited from a collision between Epic Racing's Albert Costa and Mofaz racer Jake Rosenzweig to complete the first lap in fourth place.
After applying lengthy pressure, Vergne picked off Fortec's Alexander Rossi around the outside of Turn 1 on lap 17, and staged a similar manoeuvre on Daniil Move (P1 Motorsport) five laps later to secure the runner-up spot.
"I think with the pass on Rossi I was nearly screaming into my helmet, but I thought 'I will go for it,'" said Vergne. "Fortunately, the pass on Daniil wasn't as tough as the manoeuvre on Alexander."
Wickens joked: "Why did he have to finish in second? At first I thought Jean-Eric must have made a bad start, as I was looking for his car number between 10th and fifth on the scoring tower along the pits straight. It took about three laps to see that he was fourth.
"I couldn't do anything about it, though. My aim was to win the race and I have done that to extend my points lead."
Stating from fifth on the grid, Russian Move benefited from a small mistake by Costa at Turn 1 away from the lights. The Catalan ran wide, delaying Rossi and allowing Move to sneak into second place on the exit of the Elf chicane. Move then held off Rossi by less than a second to claim the final place on the podium.
On home ground, a patient Sergio Canamasas (BVM Target) was rewarded with fifth place, after spending a large part of the afternoon tucked up behind the gearbox of Tech 1 Racing's Kevin Korjus.
The Estonian led a queue of cars eager to pass impressive GP3 graduate Nick Yelloly (Pons). Korjus made a forceful attack on the Pons car for fifth at SEAT three laps from home, but in attempting to turn-in on the Briton was sent into a spin after touching wheels.
Yelloly survived to take a hard-won sixth in only his third meeting in the championship.
Brendon Hartley was unable to start after suffering damage over a kerb to his Gravity-Charouz car's tub and engine in qualifying. The Kiwi was joined as a non-starter by Adrien Tambay, who suffered a stiff neck after a heavy qualifying crash. The Draco driver's participation in tomorrow's race is in doubt.
Results - 29 laps: Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Robert Wickens Carlin 47m03.837s 2. Jean-Eric Vergne Carlin + 21.051s 3. Daniil Move P1 + 31.271s 4. Alexander Rossi Fortec + 32.042s 5. Sergio Canamasas BVM Target + 33.011s 6. Nick Yelloly Pons + 39.144s 7. Nelson Panciatici KMP + 39.598s 8. Jan Charouz Gravity-Charouz + 40.217s 9. Nathanael Berthon ISR + 41.366s 10. Arthur Pic Tech 1 + 42.334s 11. Kevin Korjus Tech 1 + 42.753s 12. Daniel Zampieri BVM Target + 51.862s 13. Walter Grubmuller P1 + 52.322s 14. Sten Pentus Epic + 52.635s 15. Fairuz Fauzy Mofaz + 53.518s 16. Daniel de Jong Comtec + 54.521s 17. Daniel McKenzie Comtec + 55.777s 18. Lewis Williamson ISR + 1m01.227s 19. Jake Rosenzweig Mofaz + 1m06.425s Retirements: Cesar Ramos Fortec 15 laps Stephane Richelmi Draco 12 laps Anton Nebylitskiy KMP 2 laps Oliver Webb Pons 1 lap Albert Costa Epic 0 laps Brendon Hartley Gravity-Charouz 0 laps Adrien Tambay Draco 0 laps