Red Bull Junior driver Carlos Sainz Jr took his sixth victory of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series season to extend his championship lead and take back some initiative from Roberto Merhi in the race for the title.
Sainz’s win coupled with Merhi finishing down in fifth means the DAMS driver has extended his lead over the Zeta Corse driver by fifteen points to thirty-one, with three races of the season remaining.
Pierre Gasly made it a Red Bull Junior one-two in France, with the Arden Motorsport driver finishing a comfortable second, while Matthieu Vaxiviere continued a great run of form with his second podium finish of the season in third for Lotus.
Sergey Sirotkin finished fourth for Fortec Motorsports ahead of Merhi, who was unable to challenge the Russian ahead of him and was instead forced to hold off the close challenge of Marlon Stockinger in the second Lotus, who finished right on the young Spaniard’s tail.
Luca Ghiotto scored his first points since the first race at Spa-Francorchamps with seventh for International Draco Racing, with Tech 1 Racing’s Marco Sorensen taking eighth ahead of Strakka Racing’s Matias Lainé and DAMS driver Norman Nato.
Oliver Rowland’s championship challenge however is over. The Briton made a terrific start to move from eighth into third position, but as he went by Vaxiviere, the Lotus driver locked up and clipped the Fortec Motorsports driver’s rear tyre causing a puncture. Despite making up a lot of ground after his pit stop, he was unable to climb into the points, and it is now a three horse race.
Should Sainz Jr leave France after tomorrow’s second race with a lead of over fifty points over Merhi and Gasly, the Spaniard will become the 2014 series champion, but nothing is guaranteed in motorsport, and both Merhi and Gasly will want to take the championship battle to the final races in Jerez in three weeks time.
Paul Ricard Race 1 Result
|1||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||DAMS||42m45.660s|
|2||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Arden Motorsport||+4.568s|
|4||Sergey Sirotkin||RUS||Fortec Motorsports||+12.170s|
|5||Roberto Merhi||ESP||Zeta Corse||+17.957s|
|7||Luca Ghiotto||ITA||International Draco Racing||+28.575s|
|8||Marco Sorensen||DEN||Tech 1 Racing||+32.454s|
|9||Matias Lainé||FIN||Strakka Racing||+32.768s|
|11||Zoel Amberg||SWI||AV Formula||+37.474s|
|12||Will Stevens||GBR||Strakka Racing||+38.632s|
|13||Oliver Rowland||GBR||Fortec Motorsports||+39.260s|
|14||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Comtec Racing||+40.741s|
|15||Beitske Visser||NED||AV Formula||+52.779s|
|16||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Tech 1 Racing||+54.512s|
|17||William Buller||GBR||Arden Motorsport||+54.661s|
|18||Oscar Tunjo||COL||Pons Racing||+57.267s|
|19||Cameron Twynham||GBR||Comtec Racing||+57.672s|
|RET||Meindert van Buuren||NED||Pons Racing||12 Laps|
|RET||Pietro Fantin||BRZ||International Draco Racing||0 Laps|
|RET||Jazeman Jaafar||MAL||ISR Racing||0 Laps|