After taking a victory in the opening Formula Renault 3.5 Series event of the season at Monza back in April, Will Stevens took his and Strakka Racing’s second win of the year at the season ending round at Jerez.
Team-mate Matias Lainé secured another point for tenth place on Saturday for the team, who finish the season sixth in the Teams’ Championship, with Stevens sixth and Lainé thirteenth in the Drivers’ Championship.
Recently confirmed Marussia F1 Team test driver Stevens was able to take his maiden series pole position on Saturday morning, and led from start to finish to take his second victory of the season, although he was run close by Oliver Rowland, with the Fortec Motorsports driver finishing just 0.078s behind him as they crossed the finish line.
“I’m really happy with how today has gone,” said Stevens on Saturday. “Pole position and winning the race is the perfect way to start the weekend. We have improved on what we needed to and we can finally show what we are capable of – it’s very pleasing to be able to do that. I am feeling confident moving into tomorrow and hoping to finish the year off in style.”
Proving just how close the Formula Renault 3.5 Series field is, Stevens followed up his Saturday pole position by qualifying thirteenth on the grid, and was forced to serve a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane during his mandatory pit stop that ended any chance of scoring points.
“After the fantastic day we had yesterday, it’s a shame we couldn’t do the double,” said Stevens. “The race pace was looking really good and we pitted early. The drive-through was very close I’m sure but rules are rules! Let’s remember yesterday and the pace we showed in qualifying and the race.”
Team-mate Lainé inherited tenth on Saturday after Carlos Sainz Jr was penalised ahead of him, but he was disappointed not to have finished higher up after struggling to find those essential extra few tenths of a second during qualifying that would have seen him avoid being stuck behind Marco Sorensen of Tech 1 Racing for a long time during the race.
“The general pace of the car has been very good all weekend,” said Lainé. “We missed a few tenths in qualifying so that equated to ninth on the grid. The race from there was frustrating but our pace had potential if we hadn’t been stuck in traffic. We just need to find those three tenths in quali tomorrow!”
Like his team-mate, Lainé incurred a penalty for speeding in the pit lane on Sunday, and ultimately ended his race after a collision with ISR Racing driver Jazeman Jaafar that eliminated both drivers, a clash the Finn called a racing incident.
“The race pace today was amazing, fastest in sector two and going really well,” said Lainé on Sunday. “It was such a shame about the drive-through, I think I must have released the [speed limiter] button a tiny bit early. In the end, Jaafar touched me as I passed him but it was a racing incident.”
Strakka Racing Team Principal Dan Walmsley was delighted to see his team return to the top step of the podium at Jerez and that, coupled with a strong run to eighth for Jake Hughes in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Series race on Sunday, proves the team are heading in the right direction.
“It’s great to get another win in the FR3.5 category this year and good to go into the winter break with that victory fresh in everyone’s mind,” said Walmsley. “We’ve also demonstrated that after just a handful of races, Strakka has quickly got to grips with the FR2.0 cars, putting us in a very strong position for a run at that championship in 2015.”