Robin Frijns took pole position for the first Formula Renault 3.5 race of the weekend at Moscow Raceway
The Dutchman, who is tied on points with championship leader Sam Bird, was at the top of the times for most of the session as he improved on several occasions. He started to come under threat as nearly everyone went quicker in the final couple of minutes, but a late improvement of his own was enough to keep him ahead of the chasing pack by just 0.052 seconds.
Shortly before Fortec driver Frijns set his best lap, Marco Sorensen (Lotus) had missed out on beating his previous time by an even smaller margin. The Dane held on to the place though, just ahead of Tech 1's Jules Bianchi and DAMS' Arthur Pic.
Pic was one of several drivers who could rightly feel aggrieved when the red flags came out with just over one minute left on the clock, when Nikolay Martsenko spun his BVM Target car. Frenchman Pic was four tenths of a second up on Frijns at the first sector when he had to abandon the lap for the stoppage.
With so little time left on the clock the session was not restarted, leaving Bird fifth for ISR with Draco's Nico Muller alongside him on the third row.
Series newcomer Antonio Felix da Costa, who ran as high as fifth during the final flurry of activity, took seventh for Arden Caterham, while Jake Rosenzweig (ISR), Kevin Korjus (Tech 1) and Lucas Foresti (DAMS) completed the top 10.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Robin Frijns Fortec 1m24.031s 2. Marco Sorensen Lotus 1m24.083s + 0.052s 3. Jules Bianchi Tech 1 1m24.188s + 0.157s 4. Arthur Pic DAMS 1m24.192s + 0.161s 5. Sam Bird ISR 1m24.214s + 0.183s 6. Nico Muller Draco 1m24.312s + 0.281s 7. Antonio Felix da Costa Arden Caterham 1m24.535s + 0.504s 8. Jake Rosenzweig ISR 1m24.738s + 0.707s 9. Kevin Korjus Tech 1 1m24.771s + 0.740s 10. Lucas Foresti DAMS 1m24.810s + 0.779s 11. Alexander Rossi Arden Caterham 1m24.823s + 0.792s 12. Carlos Huertas Fortec 1m24.982s + 0.951s 13. Kevin Magnussen Carlin 1m25.111s + 1.080s 14. Daniil Move P1 1m25.240s + 1.209s 15. Andre Negrao Draco 1m25.404s + 1.373s 16. Walter Grubmuller P1 1m25.416s + 1.385s 17. Cesar Ramos Lotus 1m25.566s + 1.535s 18. Zoel Amberg Pons 1m25.734s + 1.703s 19. Nick Yelloly Comtec 1m25.780s + 1.749s 20. Vittorio Ghirelli Comtec 1m25.844s + 1.813s 21. Yann Cunha Pons 1m25.966s + 1.935s 22. Mikhail Aleshin RFR 1m26.022s + 1.991s 23. Sergey Sirotkin BVM Target 1m26.076s + 2.045s 24. Anton Nebylitskiy RFR 1m26.443s + 2.412s 25. Will Stevens Carlin 1m26.710s + 2.679s 26. Nikolay Martsenko BVM Target 1m26.772s + 2.741s
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
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