Victor Martins put one hand on the 2020 Formula Renault Eurocup title at the Hockenheimring despite the Frenchman failing to win either race of the penultimate round of the season.
Caio Collet may have won race one, but the Brazilian’s retirement from race two meant Martins heads into the final round of the season at the Circuit Paul Ricard with a healthy advantage at the top of the standings.
Eighteen Drivers for Penultimate Round of 2020
After Abbi Pulling made a one-off appearance in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix-supporting round at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, there were just eighteen cars on the grid for the penultimate round of the season, and of Formula Renault Eurocup.
The Eurocup name will disappear at the end of 2020 as the championship merges with the Formula Regional European Championship, with the series being renamed Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine – certified by FIA.
Victor Martins came into the event as championship leader, with the ART Grand Prix driver thirty-three points clear of R-ace GP’s Collet.
It was closer in the rookie battle, with Arden’s Alex Quinn and JD Motorsport’s David Vidales battling it out for supremacy in the battle of the first-year drivers.
Collet Claims Opening Victory Despite Two Safety Cars
Collet took pole position for only the third time in 2020, with the Renault Sport Academy-backed Brazilian edging out title rival Martins by 0.117s.
Quinn was third for Arden ahead of ART Grand Prix’s Mercedes-Benz protégé Paul Aron, with row three being filled by MP Motorsport’s Franco Colapinto and FA Racing by Manor’s Tijmen van der Helm.
At the start, Collet held onto the lead, but it was not long before the safety car was needed, with Arden’s Ugo de Wilde left stuck at the side of the road after a tangle with MP Motorsport’s Petr Ptácek.
The race was barely resumed when the safety car was out again, although the officials would have been wise to wait a few more seconds as the spun car of Reshad de Gerus, facing the wrong way after contact with Vidales, was able to get going without outside assistance.
Collet once again held onto the lead on the restart, and the Brazilian was untroubled until the chequered flag, although he would have hoped to have someone other than Martins behind him in order to close the gap to the Frenchman in the championship standings.
However, Martins did finish second and meant he only lost seven points to Collet, with the gap reduced to twenty-six points with three races of the season remaining.
Quinn kept close tabs to the leading duo and complete the podium, with the result moving him ahead of Vidales in the Rookie championship.
Colapinto claimed fourth, while a final lap incident between Aron and MP Motorsport’s Hadrien David had dire consequences for both drivers. Aron was spun around and finished in eleventh, although this would become ninth when David was penalised twenty-seconds for the incident and Amaury Cordeel was penalised for an incident with Mikhael Belov.
This would have promoted van der Helm into fifth, but the young Dutchman was also handed a time penalty – ten seconds for jumping the start – which relegated him to eighth in the final result. Bhaitech Racing’s Lorenzo Colombo was the main beneficiary of the penalties ahead of him to claim fifth, with Vidales and William Alatalo ending sixth and seventh for JD Motorsport.
Colombo Wins but Collet Retirement Hands Martins the Championship Advantage
Colombo began the season as one of the favourites for the championship, but the Italian has not had the best of years. However, his luck appears to have turned as he took his second pole position of the season on Sunday morning.
The Bhaitech Racing driver edged out Martins by 0.066 seconds, with Aron and David third and fourth ahead of Colapinto and Quinn. Collet couldn’t find the same kind of pace as he did on Saturday and qualified a lowly ninth.
Colombo lost the lead at the start but found his way back ahead of Martins before the end of the first lap. The Italian was then able to edge away from the championship favourite before the safety car was deployed… for Collet.
Collet’s own championship took a big hit when his car ground to a halt with a technical issue in the final sector. This meant Martins would have an opportunity to claim the title on Sunday, but he would have to win the race for it to happen.
The safety car closed up the field, but Martins was unable to get close enough to Colombo to take the win that would give him the title. The victory went Colombo’s way, his first of the year and the first ever in the championship for Bhaitech.
Colapinto claimed the final podium position in third, while Quinn was again the leading rookie in fourth, the young Briton finishing more than four seconds ahead of fifth placed Aron.
Belov secured his best result since re-joining the series with R-ace GP at Imola with sixth, with Vidales down in seventh and losing more points in the rookie battle to Quinn. The points-paying positions were completed by de Wilde, Alatalo and de Gerus.
Martins now holds a commanding forty-four-point advantage over Collet with just one round and two races remaining. He only needs seven points across the weekend at Paul Ricard to clinch the title.
Winning Drivers’ Reactions at Hockenheimring
Caio Collet: “It was a perfect day and I would like to thank God and even more the team that has done a fantastic job on the car since yesterday.
“The conditions were quite tricky. The tyres were really cold at the braking points, it was easy to lock up a wheel, which I did a few times, but I’m happy that we were able to adapt ourselves to win!
“The incident at Imola was out of our control, so we are now taking the races one at a time and we will continue to push until next Sunday!”
Lorenzo Colombo: “I’m really happy because I’ve been waiting so long for this! Today, I only made one mistake by spinning the wheels too much at the start, but I managed to take the lead back from Victor.
“I immediately saw that we had the speed. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs this year, so I am also thrilled for everyone in the team!”