Jazeman Jaafar converted his maiden Formula Renault 3.5 Series pole position into his first victory in the championship, leading from start to finish around the streets of Monaco for Fortec Motorsports.
The Malaysian driver, who runs with the backing of PETRONAS in the series and has previously had test runs in the Mercedes Formula 1 team, survived a red flag period to take the win and took the lead of the championship at the same time.
“I feel on top of the world,” said Jaafar after his victory. “It’s taken a while to come, but it feels absolutely fantastic to have won – and at the most iconic racing track in the world. I’ve always loved this place and now I love it even more!
“The race wasn’t as easy to win as it looked. Ollie (Rowland) got just as good a start as me and he was pretty aggressive into the first corner, but I knew that if I braked as late as I could and held my inside line he wouldn’t be able to get past.
“That strategy worked beautifully for me, although Ollie ended up being tagged and got a puncture when he had to back out of the move, which put him, my biggest rival, out of contention.”
Jaafar revealed that the red flag period, to attend to Bruno Bonifacio after the Brazilian was involved in a heavy crash with Meindert van Buuren at Saint Devote, left him nervous, but the Malaysian driver emerged at the front of the field at the resumption, and then held a gap to the following pack until the chequered flag for his first victory since his British Formula 3 days.
“When the red flag came out I got a bit nervous,” revealed Jaafar. “It’s never good for the car to have to stop and start again, so you worry about possible technical problems from this.
“I also had to do a restart and although it was a rolling one, the field is bunched up behind you and I’d lost the gap I’d built up before the red flag. Thankfully the car felt brilliant and I was able to keep the pace up from start to finish. What a fantastic weekend, I’m on such a high.
“To hear the Negaraku and our flag flying above me brought me close to tears – of happiness of course!”