Robert Wickens on Formula Renault 3.5 pole at Barcelona after chaotic session

Carlin's Robert Wickens took an early advantage in the Formula Renault 3.5 title showdown at Barcelona, recording a seventh pole position of the season in a session interrupted by two lengthy stoppages

Robert Wickens on Formula Renault 3.5 pole at Barcelona after chaotic session

Championship rival and team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne will start from ninth position for this afternoon's race. The Frenchman has reduced a 34-point deficit to Wickens in August down to just two points entering the meeting.

Auto GP racer Adrien Tambay, deputising for the sickly Andre Negrao at Draco, caused the first red flag following a substantial accident. In only his second Formula Renault 3.5 meeting of the season, following a race with Pons in Monaco in May, Tambay locked up his left-front wheel on the approach to the downhill, left-hand, SEAT corner. Having skated over the gravel trap, the Frenchman was travelling with considerable velocity when he made a nose-first impact with the tyre-barriers.

Although Tambay exited the car unaided, he was later stretchered to a waiting ambulance.

"Tambay is okay, he has been sent to hospital in Granollers for a scan," said Draco team manager Nadia Morini. "If the hospital say it's okay, I can ask the race director to allow him to start from the back."

The second red flag occurred when Brendon Hartley's Gravity-Charouz car hit a kerb with sufficient force to punch a hole in the chassis and take out his sump. Oil was deposited on the entry to the fast Campsa corner. Hartley pulled over to the inside of the track on the exit of Campsa, but the oil caught out a number of drivers, including Fortec's Cesar Ramos, who pirouetted spectacularly.

Wickens was fastest at the time of the stoppage on a time of 1m32.564s. Friday's collective test pacesetter Albert Costa (Epic) was next up, the Spaniard the only other driver to dip below 1m33s. Costa's lap secured second spot at the chequered flag, ahead of Ramos' Fortec team-mate Alexander Rossi.

"I am much happier with third than where I was the lap before, in seventh with a sloppy lap," said Rossi. "Albert Costa and I have our own private battle, like Robert and JEV, for third in the championship. I am leading him right now, so as long as I stay there in terms of positioning it should be good."

A strong run to fourth by Jake Rosenzweig helped lift the spirits of the Mofaz team, which is closing its Formula Renault 3.5 operation after this meeting. But as third to sixth was covered by 0.1s, the American felt that a better result had been within reach.

Russian Daniil Move continued his competitive practice pace to take fifth for P1 Motorsport, ahead of Hungaroring polesitter Sergio Canamasas (BVM Target).

Pons Racing's Nick Yelloly will head team-mate Oliver Webb on the fourth row of the grid, the GP3 driver ruing a small mistake which he felt cost him third place.

Yelloly's fellow Briton and GP3 rival Lewis Williamson had a troubled second outing with ISR. Deputising for the Czech team's regular driver Daniel Ricciardo, who is competing in this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, Williamson will start from 24th position after encountering gearbox dramas.

"The car wouldn't upshift," said Williamson. "We had to do a bodge just to get me out, so it was pretty tricky. We were in at the deep-end, but I have to just grasp the opportunity. We had to start with the car in-gear, getting a push out of the box. I don't think it was a problem inside the gearbox, I think it was electrical."

Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Robert Wickens Carlin 1m32.564s 2. Albert Costa Epic 1m32.854s + 0.290s 3. Alexander Rossi Fortec 1m33.048s + 0.484s 4. Jake Rosenzweig Mofaz 1m33.065s + 0.501s 5. Daniil Move P1 1m33.097s + 0.533s 6. Sergio Canamasas BVM Target 1m33.123s + 0.559s 7. Nick Yelloly Pons 1m33.167s + 0.603s 8. Oliver Webb Pons 1m33.246s + 0.682s 9. Jean-Eric Vergne Carlin 1m33.368s + 0.804s 10. Nelson Panciatici KMP 1m33.404s + 0.840s 11. Kevin Korjus Tech 1 1m33.426s + 0.862s 12. Nathanael Berthon ISR 1m33.437s + 0.873s 13. Anton Nebylitskiy KMP 1m33.556s + 0.992s 14. Arthur Pic Tech 1 1m33.613s + 1.049s 15. Stephane Richelmi Draco 1m33.640s + 1.076s 16. Daniel Zampieri BVM Target 1m33.781s + 1.217s 17. Sten Pentus Epic 1m33.873s + 1.309s 18. Walter Grubmuller P1 1m34.035s + 1.471s 19. Brendon Hartley Gravity-Charouz 1m34.058s + 1.494s 20. Cesar Ramos Fortec 1m34.238s + 1.674s 21. Daniel de Jong Comtec 1m34.416s + 1.852s 22. Fairuz Fauzy Mofaz 1m34.676s + 2.112s 23. Jan Charouz Gravity-Charouz 1m34.771s + 2.207s 24. Lewis Williamson ISR 1m34.809s + 2.245s 25. Daniel McKenzie Comtec 1m35.610s + 3.046s 26. Adrien Tambay Draco 
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