Red Bull Ring FR3.5: Rowland dominant, F1 racer Merhi in huge crash

Oliver Rowland dominated the first Red Bull Ring Formula Renault 3.5 race, while Manor Formula 1 racer Roberto Merhi was involved in a bizarre crash at the finish

Red Bull Ring FR3.5: Rowland dominant, F1 racer Merhi in huge crash

From pole, Fortec racer Rowland led every lap, and was only troubled on a safety car restart when Red Bull junior Dean Stoneman attempted to run around Rowland's outside at the tight right-hander at Turn 2.

Stoneman's DAMS machine was slightly squeezed wide on the exit and, unable to keep pace with his Racing Steps-supported countryman over the remaining laps, conceded an 8.7-second margin of victory.

"I had opted for a high downforce set-up, which was potentially a risk if we had a lot of safety-car periods because of the DRS," said Rowland, who also recorded fastest lap.

"But I think it was quicker, and I was quite happy when I saw Dean behind me as he was on the same strategy.

"I made a small mistake on the exit of Turn 1 on the second safety-car restart by taking too much kerb, but it is so tight at the following corner that I think I always had it covered."

Stoneman's McLaren-backed team-mate Nyck de Vries opted for a medium-downforce set-up, and completed the podium after gaining three positions on the opening lap.

The Lotus pairing of series returnee Marlon Stockinger and title challenger Matthieu Vaxiviere had threatened to achieve a top result after qualifying second and third.

But Vaxiviere bogged down away from the lights, while Stockinger pitted to retire on the first lap after running very wide over the Turn 1 run-off, potentially after contact with Merhi.

The Pons racer featured in a number of incidents, despite demonstrating an upturn in performance compared to early rounds this season.

He finished fourth on the road, but was involved in a spectacular and bizarre accident after the chequered flag when he was rear-ended at high speed by Arden rookie Nicholas Latifi.

The Canadian had been charging down the pit straight in battle with Tom Dillmann for fifth, and was caught out by Merhi slowing more than expected after the finish.

Latifi was sent into a violent roll, and both cars sustained heavy damage.

Merhi had already been awarded a 10s time penalty during the race for exceeding track limits, which relegated him to 11th and outside the points.

The first safety-car period was necessitated on the opening lap, when Merhi's Pons team-mate Meindert van Buuren took to the grass after running alongside Monaco winner Jazeman Jaafar between Turns 1 and 2.

Van Buuren speared across the road as he attempted to return to the track, collecting innocent parties Alfonso Celis Jr and Sean Gelael.

Double 2015 winner Vaxiviere held fourth on the restart and maintained the position until lap 14 when Merhi outbraked the Frenchman on the inside into Turn 2.

Vaxiviere attempted to maintain the position on the exit, only for the pair to briefly touch wheels, dropping the Lotus F1 junior behind Latifi.

Dillmann would demote Vaxiviere to sixth four laps from home, and Rowland's victory hands the Briton a 33 point lead over Vaxiviere in the drivers' standings.

RESULTS - 27 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Gap
1 Oliver Rowland Fortec Motorsports 41m47.327s
2 Dean Stoneman DAMS 8.375s
3 Nyck de Vries DAMS 15.809s
4 Nicholas Latifi Arden Motorsport 18.231s
5 Tom Dillmann Jagonya Ayam with Carlin 18.367s
6 Matthieu Vaxiviere Lotus 19.613s
7 Gustav Malja Strakka Racing 20.347s
8 Aurelien Panis Tech 1 Racing 21.441s
9 Tio Ellinas Strakka Racing 22.002s
10 Jazeman Jaafar Fortec Motorsports 23.538s
11 Egor Orudzhev Arden Motorsport 29.131s
12 Beitske Visser AVF 29.804s
13 Pietro Fantin International Draco Racing 31.826s
14 Bruno Bonifacio International Draco Racing 33.753s
15 Louis Deletraz Comtec Racing 34.573s
- Roberto Merhi Pons Racing Disqualified
- Roy Nissany Tech 1 Racing Retirement
- Marlon Stockinger Lotus Retirement
- Sean Gelael Jagonya Ayam with Carlin Retirement
- Meindert van Buuren Pons Racing Retirement
- Alfonso Celis AVF Retirement


shares
comments
Red Bull Ring FR3.5: Lotus protege Vaxiviere edges F1 racer Merhi

Previous article

Red Bull Ring FR3.5: Lotus protege Vaxiviere edges F1 racer Merhi

Next article

Red Bull Ring FR3.5: F1 racer Roberto Merhi excluded over big crash

Red Bull Ring FR3.5: F1 racer Roberto Merhi excluded over big crash
Load comments
How the post-Renault 3.5 series is shaping up Plus

How the post-Renault 3.5 series is shaping up

When Renault ended its support of its 3.5 Formula, there were fears about the category's future. But as PETER MILLS explains, the rebadged FV8 3.5 series has retained an appeal to drivers

Formula V8 3.5
Feb 3, 2016
The all-time FR3.5 top 10 Plus

The all-time FR3.5 top 10

An era ended in 2015 as Renault withdrew its backing of Formula Renault 3.5. GLENN FREEMAN and PETER MILLS pick the 10 best drivers from the World Series by Renault years

Formula V8 3.5
Jan 8, 2016
The top 10 FR3.5 drivers of 2015 Plus

The top 10 FR3.5 drivers of 2015

The 2015 Formula Renault 3.5 season will be notable for being the last with the French company's backing but also produced a worthy champion in Oliver Rowland. PETER MILLS evaluates this year's crop of drivers

Formula V8 3.5
Nov 17, 2015
Renault's ladder to Formula 1 Plus

Renault's ladder to Formula 1

Since 2005 the World Series by Renault package has launched a host of young stars on the path to Formula 1. But there's much more to the events, both on and off the track

Formula V8 3.5
Aug 13, 2015
The top 10 FR3.5 drivers of 2014 Plus

The top 10 FR3.5 drivers of 2014

The field was perhaps not as strong as in the previous season, but Carlos Sainz Jr emerged as a worthy Formula Renault 3.5 champion. GLENN FREEMAN rates the top 2014 drivers

Formula V8 3.5
Nov 11, 2014
The top 10 FR3.5 drivers of 2013 Plus

The top 10 FR3.5 drivers of 2013

There were some standout performances in the Formula Renault 3.5 title race this year, but one racer stood above all the others. GLENN FREEMAN looks back and picks out his top 10 drivers

Formula V8 3.5
Nov 15, 2013
The 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 grid guide Plus

The 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 grid guide

Last year's field was extraordinary and hard to match, but the Formula Renault 3.5 grid will still have plenty of talent this season. Glenn Freeman runs through the field ahead of this weekend's season opener

Formula V8 3.5
Apr 4, 2013
Vandoorne: future McLaren F1 star? Plus

Vandoorne: future McLaren F1 star?

Landing the Fortec seat that took rising star Robin Frijns to the 2012 FR3.5 title was already a good sign for Stoffel Vandoorne. Then McLaren took him under its wing. Peter Mills tells Vandoorne's story so far

Formula V8 3.5
Feb 20, 2013