What a difference a day makes.
After a tumultuous sprint race which saw him finish 17th, Alexander Rossi took his first victory since the opening round at Motorland to end his recent run of bad luck.
After the safety car was brought out following a first corner shunt which saw Daniel McKenzie and Jan Charouz retire, Rossi hassled pole sitter Jean-Eric Vergne in the opening stint of the race.
The 19 year old then capitalised on the Frenchman’s early pit stop and his subsequent blistering pace ensured that, when he made his own mandatory pit stop four laps later, he rejoined comfortably in the lead.
Having built up a sizeable advantage, Rossi comfortably maintained a consistent pace despite a few spots of rain to record his first victory since April.
He said: “I've had my ups and downs this year so it's great to get a win. There was a little bit of rain at the start and the conditions were tricky. Staying out on my own while everyone else went into the pits made the difference I think. There was a lot going on at the start but things had settled down by the end and it's a great result.”
Even with the American’s superb speed, Vergne would not have been a threat after he was passed by ISR’s Daniel Ricciardo courtesy of a troublesome right-rear wheel during his stop.
Vergne desperately tried to find a way past the Australian and such was their closely fought battle that the two made contact lap 14 when Vergne made a late lunge down the inside of Ricciardo at the Verriere chicane.
Despite slight damage to the front wing of the Carlin car, both were able to continue.
For Ricciardo, who will not be attending the final meeting in Barcelona since it clashes with his duties with HRT at the Japanese Grand Prix, second place was a good way to sign off.
The Australian said: “We put on a new set of tyres in the pits and I was surprised to see Jean-Eric behind me after my stop. I was struggling with the car halfway through and I knew I wasn't going to win. All the same, this second place is a way of saying thanks to ISR.”
Although unquestionably disappointed that he could not utilise pole on home soil for the second time this weekend, Vergne will be buoyed by the fact that title rival Robert Wickens failed to score.
The Canadian suffered a puncture after making slight contact with the front wing of Sergio Canamasas which eventually saw him finish a disconsolate 19th.
Vergne said: “I had a great car today, so it's frustrating that we couldn't come away with another victory. I lost time in the pits and then I just couldn't find a way past Daniel. He blocked me off and we collided. It is still good for the championship though and I know that we will have a good car in Barcelona for the next round.”
Wickens endured an eventual day of racing after he had qualified a disappointing seventh in the wet session.
The Carlin driver made up several places at the start and was fourth by the end of the pit straight as he hounded Ricciardo for third.
However, on lap five the Canadian lost out to Jake Rosenzweig after running wide at Beausset as he struggled for rear grip and had to pit four laps later.
Wickens rejoined from the pits into the path of championship rival Vergne and in a heart-stopping moment, boldly swerved to the left to keep the Frenchman behind him.
His strong-armed tactics proved unsuccessful, though, much to the relief of the Carlin pitwall.
Contact with Canamasas while he was running tenth ruled him out of contention and Vergne’s third place a fascinating climax to the season as Wickens will enter the final round in Barcelona still leading the championship with 216 points but with just a slender two point advantage over his title rival.
Results - 23 laps: Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Alexander Rossi Fortec 47m12.356s 2. Daniel Ricciardo ISR + 4.416s 3. Jean-Eric Vergne Carlin + 5.800s 4. Jake Rosenzweig Mofaz + 14.463s 5. Nick Yelloly Pons + 15.505s 6. Andre Negrao Draco + 15.603s 7. Albert Costa Epic + 17.235s 8. Daniel Zampieri BVM Target + 17.591s 9. Cesar Ramos Fortec + 18.566s 10. Oliver Webb Pons + 20.247s 11. Nelson Panciatici KMP + 27.340s 12. Daniel de Jong Comtec + 28.844s 13. Stephane Richelmi Draco + 29.229s 14. Nathanael Berthon ISR + 39.272s 15. Fairuz Fauzy Mofaz + 39.904s 16. Anton Nebylitskiy KMP + 40.835s 17. Sergio Canamasas BVM Target + 41.181s 18. Kevin Korjus Tech 1 + 41.771s 19. Robert Wickens Carlin + 43.385s 20. Brendon Hartley Gravity-Charouz + 1 lap Retirements: Arthur Pic Tech 1 15 laps Walter Grubmuller P1 13 laps Sten Pentus Epic 4 laps Daniil Move P1 1 lap Daniel McKenzie Comtec 0 laps Jan Charouz Gravity-Charouz 0 laps