Carlos Sainz Jr extended his championship lead by winning the first Formula Renault 3.5 Series race in Spa-Francorchamps. The DAMS driver led from start to finish and won by over seventeen seconds from Arden Motorsport’s Pierre Gasly, while Jazeman Jaafar profited from a large number of retirements ahead of him and a low-downforce set-up to take the final podium spot after starting down in fourteenth for ISR.
Initially the start was delayed due to a issue in race control, but once the race began, Sainz led comfortable away from Gasly. Behind the two Red Bull junior drivers however there was carnage, with Lotus driver Richie Stanaway clashing with the Zeta Corse of Roberto Merhi at Les Combes, with Fortec Motorsport driver Sergey Sirotkin and AV Formula’s Zoel Amberg getting caught up in the crash that saw all four drivers retire. The second Fortec machine of Oliver Rowland was also delayed by the incident but was able to continue, only to retire later on with a fuel-feed problem while trying to get back into the top ten.
The accident brought out the safety car, and promoted Matias Lainé in his Strakka Racing machine up into third place, ahead of International Draco Racing’s Pietro Fantin, Norman Nato of DAMS and the second Draco Racing machine of Luca Ghiotto. Unfortunately for Fantin, his race did not get past the first lap after the restart, when he was spun into the Les Combes barrier by the Pons Racing machine of Meindert van Buuren having been overtaken by other drivers before then.
Jaafar used his straight-line speed advantage to get up to fourth place, but for a while did not seem to be able to pass Lainé for the final podium spot. However he never gave up the fight, and on the last lap took the position from the Finn and achieved his second consecutive third place finish. Lainé would hold on for fourth, with Monaco race winner Nato in fifth.
Ghiotto took sixth and his first points since Monza, with Will Stevens finishing seventh for Strakka Racing having started fifteenth. Marco Sorensen was eighth for Tech 1 Racing, with Marlon Stockinger for Lotus in ninth. Tenth place went to Dutch female racer Beitske Visser in the AV Formula entry for her first point in Formula Renault 3.5. Only thirteen of the twenty starters finished the race.
Spa-Francorchamps Race 1 Result
|1||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||DAMS||40m00.447s|
|2||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Arden Motorsport||+17.030s|
|3||Jazeman Jaafar||MAL||ISR Racing||+17.916s|
|4||Matias Lainé||FIN||Strakka Racing||+18.861s|
|6||Luca Ghiotto||ITA||International Draco Racing||+27.725s|
|7||Will Stevens||GBR||Strakka Racing||+28.316s|
|8||Marco Sorensen||DEN||Tech 1 Racing||+31.380s|
|10||Beitske Visser||NED||AV Formula||+42.354s|
|11||Will Buller||GBR||Arden Motorsport||+45.935s|
|12||Meindert van Buuren||NED||Pons Racing||+47.787s|
|13||Roman Mavlanov||RUS||Zeta Corse||+54.189s|
|RET||Oliver Rowland||GBR||Fortec Motorsport||10 Laps|
|RET||Oscar Tunjo||COL||Pons Racing||5 Laps|
|RET||Pietro Fantin||BRZ||International Draco Racing||4 Laps|
|RET||Roberto Merhi||ESP||Zeta Corse||0 Laps|
|RET||Zoel Amberg||SWI||AV Formula||0 Laps|
|RET||Sergey Sirotkin||RUS||Fortec Motorsport||0 Laps|
|RET||Richie Stanaway||NZL||Lotus||0 Laps|