Photo: World Series by Renault
Stoffel Vandoorne exceeded expectations to score a comfortable win in his first race in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series at Monza.
Starting from pole position, the Belgian retained first place at the beginning of the race. Behind him, fellow front-row starter Sergey Sirotkin was turned around by his significantly more experienced compatriot Daniil Move at the chicane, taking both out of the race. It was another Russian Nikolay Martsenko who emerged a surprise second after a flying start.
The Pons driver held up the chasing pack behind him, allowing Vandoorne to quickly build up an early lead. Will Stevens was pushing hard to pass Martsenko, but ran wide at the first chicane, forcing Antonio Felix da Costa into the gravel and allowing Christopher Zanella back through into third.
Stevens and Felix da Costa worked their way back past Zanella at the first chicane soon afterwards, but Stevens went on to make the same mistake twice at his second attempt to pass Martsenko. This time there was contact between the two and Felix da Costa was able to capitalise to take second place.
The Portuguese ace was closing the nine-second gap to Vandoorne, two seconds quicker than the Fortec man on lap 11. However, soon afterwards he went straight on at the chicane with an apparent puncture and pulled up at the side of the track.
That gave Vandoorne a comfortable margin, allowing him to nurse a badly flat-spotted front-left tyre to a seven second win.
Kevin Magnussen had come through to third place before Felix da Costa’s retirement and inherited second place to start his title assault with a good points haul.
Zanella held off the second Fortec machine of Oliver Webb to pick up a podium finish on his FR3.5 debut. Nigel Melker finished in fifth place, just ahead of Arthur Pic. The Frenchman charged through from 22nd on the grid for series newcomers AV Formula. Jazeman Jaafar finished his first FR3.5 race in seventh place ahead of Mihai Marinescu, who starred for the other new team Zeta Corse from 23rd. Two more debutants rounded out the top ten, with?Matias Laine ninth ahead of Norman Nato.
|1||Stoffel Vandoorne||Fortec Motorsports||29 laps in 46:48.474|
|4||Oliver Webb||Fortec Motorsports||+8.991|
|5||Nigel Melker||Tech 1 Racing||+16.461|
|6||Arthur Pic||AV Formula||+17.087|
|8||Mihai Marinescu||Zeta Corse||+18.474|
|9||Matias Laine||P1 Motorsport||+19.932|
|11||Andre Negrao||International Draco Racing||+29.408|
|12||Zoel Amberg||Pons Racing||+38.137|
|13||Nico Muller||International Draco Racing||+38.144|
|15||Mikhail Aleshin||Tech 1 Racing||+45.247|
|17||Emmanuel Piget||Zeta Corse||+49.859|
|18||Will Stevens||P1 Motorsport||+56.310|
|19||Marco Sorensen||Lotus||+ 1 lap|
|Pietro Fantin||Arden Caterham||23 laps|
|Antonio Felix da Costa||Arden Caterham||13 laps|
|Nikolay Martsenko||Pons Racing||6 laps|
|Lucas Foresti||SMP Racing by Comtec||1 lap|
|Sergey Sirotkin||ISR||1 lap|
|Yann Cunha||AV Formula||0 laps|
|Daniil Move||SMP Racing by Comtec||0 laps|