Photo: Renault Sport/DPPI
Marco Sorensen and Kevin Magnussen take the spoils in FR3.5 on a hectic weekend in Belgium, which also included Eurocup FR2.0. Auto GP and Euro F3 were also in action elsewhere…
Formula Renault 3.5
Immediately following their Monaco race the previous weekend, the FR3.5 drivers moved on to Spa and another chance to make a name for themselves at a legendary circuit.
Kevin Magnussen claimed pole in qualifying on Saturday morning, and held the lead at the start ahead of Monaco victor Sam Bird. The frontrunners held their positions in the early stages, before a safety car intervention to recover the car of Lucas Foresti. After the restart, Bird made a move on Magnussen at the bus stop chicane, but the pair both cut the corner as Magnussen tried to hold position. As they came back on track, Marco Sorensen used his greater momentum (and the runoff) to get past both for the lead, as Bird lifted off to let Magnussen back through.
Next time around Bird successfully got by Magnussen, but Jules Bianchi managed to take both and move into second. Sorensen, Bianchi and Bird maintained their podium places until the finish, while Magnussen retired after contact with Arthur Pic gave him a puncture. Mihail Aleshin inherited fourth, ahead of Nico Muller, Jake Rosenzweig, Robin Frijns and Walter Grubmuller.
Magnussen again topped qualifying on Sunday morning, as the race started behind the safety car due to rain. When the race got going he held the lead until making his compulstory pitstop, where a small issue resulted in him dropping behind Frijns, before regaining the place.
The race was then red-flagged after Richie Stanaway had a big crash that saw his car fly over the back of Carlos Huertas‘. Stanaway sustained fractured vertebrae in the accident, and we hope the mega-talented Kiwi makes a quick recovery.
After the race restarted, Magnussen went on to cross the finish line in third, but he ended up as the winner as Lewis Williamson and Rosenzweig in front of him had failed to make their pitstop. Nick Yelloly was second, with Frijns third. Muller was fourth, ahead of Bird who fought his way through from the back of the grid after running out of fuel in qualifying.
Bird leads Frijns in the standings by nine points with Yelloly a further ten behind. The Nurburgring on 30 June/1 July is the next destination.
Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0
The first of the two Eurocup races at Spa saw Norman Nato claim his first victory in the championship, one week after the double victory in Imola that saw him take the lead of the Alps series standings. Fellow Frenchman Pierre Gasly had taken his maiden pole in qualifying, but he made a poor start and was beaten into Eau Rouge by Nato and local ace Stoffel Vandoorne. The top three finished in that order, while points leader Daniil Kvyat got by Timmy Hansen for fourth, with Hansen later penalised for a false start. Alex Riberas, Paul-Loup Chatin, Jordan King and Javier Tarancon were next up, with Red Bull Junior Stefan Wackerbauer ninth and Racing Steps Foundation driver Jake Dennis tenth in his first Eurocup race.
Race two saw Gasly’s R-ace GP teammate and fellow French F4 graduate Andrea Pizzitola take his maiden pole, but as the race started in treacherous conditions he went off on the exit of Eau Rouge as Kvyat passed him for the lead around the outside. Poor visibility caused another crash just afterwards, when Dan de Zille spun and was struck by Victor Franzoni. This brought out the red flags.
After the restart, Dennis took second place from Vandoorne. The red flag came out again later after Riberas crashed and the race was not restarted. Kvyat was declared the winner, ahead of Dennis and Vandoorne. Oliver Rowland was fourth ahead of Chatin and Miki Weckstrom, with Josh Hill seventh and Ignazio D’Agosto eighth. Guilherme Silva and Christof van Grunigen completed the top ten.
Kvyat is on 87 points, with Vandoorne on 60 and Nato on 52. Next stop, Nurburgring.
Adrian Quaife-Hobbs took a big step closer to the title by becoming the first driver to win both races in an Auto GP weekend in Portimao. The Brit took his fourth pole of the year in the season’s fifth qualifying session, and converted that into a fourth race win of the year in Saturday’s race. His nearest rivals Pal Varhaug and Sergey Sirotkin completed the podium.
Race two saw Quaife-Hobbs work his way to another win from eighth on the reverse grid, ahead of Chris van der Drift while Sirotkin was third, after recovering from a first lap clash with Varhaug that caused the Norwegian to retire. Quaife-Hobbs now has 196 points, with Varhaug on 123 and Sirotkin on 115. Two weekends remain in Curitiba, Brazil and Sonoma in the US, with a maximum of 96 points available.
European Formula 3
The first of three Euro Series races at Spielberg in Austria saw Ferrari protege Raffaele Marciello win again, after getting past polesitter Will Buller. Buller and Daniel Juncadella then fought over second, but were amongst six drivers penalised for ignoring yellow flags. That promoted Pascal Wehrlein into second and Carlos Sainz Jr into third, but the latter spun into the pit wall at the final corner. Jazeman Jaafar inherited third with Sven Muller fourth, Tom Blomqvist fifth and Michael Lewis in sixth.
Buller got another chance in race two, starting from pole on the reverse grid after finishing the first race in eighth. He took an untroubled win ahead of Lewis with Blomqvist in third. Muller, Jaafar and Wehrlein completed the top six ahead of Sainz and Juncadella, who stalled from the front row. Marciello could only manage ninth.
Juncadella finally put things right in race three, taking advantage when polesitter Felix Rosenqvist was penalised for a drive-through and going on to take victory by 14 seconds over Buller. Muller took third after Wehrlein ran wide, with Sainz fifth and Lewis sixth, himself benefiting after Blomqvist ran wide. Marciello was eighth after taking his turn to stall at the start.
Juncadella’s win ensures he leads the Euro Series by six points from Marciello, with Sainz and Buller a further 21 and 22 points behind respectively. In the FIA’s European Championship, to which the first and third races of each weekend count, Marciello leads Juncadella by 22 points. The Norisring lies await on 30 June/1 July.
PaddockScout Driver of the weekend: It has to be Adrian Quaife-Hobbs. Eighth to first is a fine feat, regardless of the depth in quality of the field.
Next week: National F3 championships from Britain, Germany and Italy.