Enrico Toccacelo stormed to a strong win from pole in the first race of the World Series by Renault championship, run at the Zolder track in Belgium
The Italian held off fellow front row man Andreas Zuber at the start and was never headed, stretching his lead out to more than two seconds before slowing slightly towards the end of the race.
Will Power, fourth on the grid, didn't make the start of the race, forced out with a transmission failure. Because of this the trio of Zuber, Robert Kubica and Tristan Gommendy ran together behind the lead, easily dropping the rest of the field who were unable to stay with the pace of the leading group.
Markus Winkelhock was forced into the pits on lap four as a result of a gearbox failure; he was able to rejoin towards the end of the race right behind the battle for second, running slightly faster with new tyres but staying out of their way.
There were remarkably few errors considering it was the opening round: Matteo Meneghello spun off harmlessly into the gravel trap at the midpoint of the race, while Frederic Vervisch stalled in the middle of the chicane with four laps to go, one before Maldonado got onto the dirty side of the track and off into the gravel.
But Toccacelo sailed on past it all, seemingly untouchable in the hot conditions. After the race he noted: "I think that Zuber got off to a better start, but I managed to take advantage of pole position to get to the first corner in front.
"For the first few laps I concentrated on trying to avoid making any mistakes because the track was dirty, and after that I attacked right to the end."
World Series by Renault - Race One, Zolder (19 Laps):
Pos Driver Team Time 1. Enrico Toccacelo Victory 26:03.158 2. Andreas Zuber Carlin + 1.530 3. Robert Kubica Epsilon + 2.432 4. Tristan Gommendy KTR + 3.141 5. Felix Porteiro Epsilon + 15.295 6. Adrian Valles Pons + 16.284 7. Christian Montanari Draco + 16.995 8. Simon Pagenaud Saulnier + 18.813 9. Ryo Fukuda Saulnier + 23.348 10. Patrick Pilet Jenzer + 28.326 11. Damien Pasini Cram + 28.839 12. Celso Miguez Pons + 29.629 13. Karun Chandhok RC Motorsport + 37.079 14. Tomas Kostka Victory + 37.544 15. Eric Salignon Cram + 37.988 16. Giorgio Mondini Eurointernational + 40.316 17. Milos Pavlovic GD Racing + 43.041 18. Jaap Van Lagen KTR + 49.518 19. Frederik Vervish GD Racing + 1 Lap 20. Pastor Maldonado Dams + 3 Laps Did Not Finish: Matteo Meneghello Eurointernational Giovanni Tedeschi RC Motorsport Markus Winkelhock Draco Ivan Bellarosa Avelon
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
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
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