Matthieu Vaxiviere defends his driving after FR3.5 Le Mans penalty

Lotus Formula 1 junior Matthieu Vaxiviere gave a defiant defence of his driving following criticism from rivals after the opening Formula Renault 3.5 race of the weekend at Le Mans

Matthieu Vaxiviere defends his driving after FR3.5 Le Mans penalty

Vaxiviere was handed a 10 second time penalty during the race for being judged to have gained an advantage by breaching track limits when maintaining his second position from Arden driver Egor Orudzhev.

The Frenchman dropped from the runner-up position at the chequered flag to tenth as a consequence of the race officials' decision, but Orudzhev felt strongly that a penalty should have been awarded earlier in proceedings.

The result effectively ends Vaxiviere's title hopes, as championship leader Oliver Rowland is 74 points clear in the drivers' standings, with 75 on offer over the last three races of the season.

"With Egor, I felt he braked so late, and for this I cut the corner to avoid an accident," explained Vaxiviere.

"I don't really know what the race director wants."

Vaxiviere challenged race winner Rowland during the early laps, before contact on the run to Turn 1, the Dunlop Chicane, damaged the Charouz-run Lotus car's front-wing.

Rowland's left-rear tyre had three grooves embedded in it, and the Racing Steps-backed driver was fortunate to escape a puncture on his way to a dominant seventh win of the season.

"On the crash with Oliver, he moved a little bit, but it wasn't a sudden change of direction," said Vaxiviere.

"We can't really say anything as I touched him with the side of the wing, so I think that incident was just racing.

"But I'm upset with the 10-second penalty.

"I had a problem with the radio so I couldn't hear any information during the race.

"I was pushing like hell and at the end of the race I thought I had finished second.

"I am upset when we had such good car performance and the race director made this decision when I thought I was avoiding an accident."

Following his victory, Rowland repeated his ambition to seal the championship by completing the double at Le Mans in race two on Sunday.

"I am really happy to be 74 points clear," said Rowland, who matched reigning FR3.5 champion Carlos Sainz Jr's record of seven wins in a season.

"Of course it would be nice to win it by standing on the top step of the podium, but it is close to being all but done."


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