Home Featured Roundup: Magnussen confirms title with Catalunya double

Roundup: Magnussen confirms title with Catalunya double

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
Photo: Francois Flamand / DPPI

Photo: Francois Flamand / DPPI

Imperious Magnussen and conservative Marciello both confirm titles, while the Eurocup sees the championship battle come down to the wire…

Formula Renault 3.5
Magnussen crowned champion after win one, completes double the next day

McLaren junior driver Kevin Magnussen was technically not yet the series champion when he arrived at Catalunya for the Formula Renault 3.5 season finale. However, you could hardly tell that from the demeanor of everyone involved – the officials, the press, his rivals and Magnussen himself.

He might’ve had more dominant individual sessions, races, weekends as a whole, but Catalunya was so obviously Magnussen’s territory. The Dane made that clear as early as on Friday, when he was outright imperious in both collective test sessions.

Entering into the weekend, Magnussen needed just eight points to secure the title. But, on Saturday alone, he would deliver the whole 25 – taking a record fourth pole in a row and converting it to a controlled win. With the title decided, he wound up doing the exact same thing on Sunday, despite the qualifying being called off due to fog and despite the bold strategies attempted by his rivals in the race.

While the champion’s adieu to Formula Renault stole the show, his numerous rivals managed to quietly bolster their own CVs. Stoffel Vandoorne capped off a brilliant rookie season with two well-deserved podiums, while Caterham junior Will Stevens delivered two great drives to accomplish the very same feat. In fact, only Stevens seemed at all close to stealing Magnussen’s thunder, matching his pace throughout race one and taking the fastest lap in race two.

Will Stevens came closest to disrupting Magnussen's dominance (Photo:

Will Stevens came close to disrupting Magnussen’s dominance (Photo: Francois Flamand / DPPI)


With the same three drivers locking out the podium in both races, there were naturally no places left on it for anyone else. While that would end up disappointing many a challenger in the field, it was Antonio Felix da Costa for who it probably meant the most.

It is still not entirely clear whether the decision to deny him an F1 promotion was made before or after the Catalunya weekend, but, in either case, the two Montmelo races were no help. On both days, the Portuguese driver’s race chances were compromised in qualifying. Whether he crumbled under pressure or was compromised by tech is something known to only Antonio and Arden Caterham, but the fact remained – his lone points finish of the weekend, a quite stellar fourth-place effort in race one, was not enough to change Red Bull’s mind.

The rest of the usual frontrunners were, as expected, there or thereabout at the sharp end. AV Formula’s Arthur Pic was well on his way to his second podium of the season on Sunday, but a loose wheel sidelined him immediately following the mandatory stop. Lotus driver Marco Sorensen qualified well on Saturday, but was taken out in a hard crash on lap one of the race. His Sunday qualifying was sabotaged by a red flag, but a quality strategy from the team helped him take some points in a luckless weekend.

Nico Muller was among the podium contenders on Sunday, eventually settling for fourth place. Finally, Nigel Melker would take away two points less than Sorensen from race two on Sunday after inadvertently being the one who sent the Dane’s car flying the day before.

While Magnussen, Vandoorne and Felix da Costa expectedly made up the top three of the standings, Stevens managed to leapfrog both Muller and Melker in the fight for fourth in the standings.

Report: Magnussen takes 3.5 title with sublime Catalunya win

Report: Magnussen wraps up stellar Catalunya double

Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0
Gasly v. Rowland decided in a collision, the Frenchman emerges with the title
Pierre Gasly champion

Gasly’s composure and concentration ended up securing him the Eurocup title (Photo: Gregory Lenormand / DPPI)

Tech 1’s Pierre Gasly and Manor MP’s Oliver Rowland have spent the 2013 season partaking in what was one of the most entertaining title fights of the year. At Catalunya, the duo’s championship battle was resolved in a suitably gripping fashion.

The Briton, coming off the heels of complete dominance in the final round of Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, kicked off the weekend by obliterating the opposition in Friday practice sessions. On Saturday, however, he was the first one to flinch as he he lost out in his group to Koiranen’s Nyck de Vries, while Gasly ruled in his, seeing off strong rival Esteban Ocon.

The superb time set by de Vries saw him start the race from pole and he dutifully converted that into his second victory of the year. The real story, however, unfolded behind, with Rowland getting a great launch from third on the grid. The RSF-backed junior was ahead of Gasly on turn one and, at the checkered flag, the Frenchman’s advantage was down to eight points, as he rounded out the podium behind Rowland.

On Sunday, the order in which qualifying groups ran was reversed, meaning the advantage was with Gasly. And, while Rowland again missed out on pole against a very on-form de Vries, Gasly managed a stunning last-lap effort to overhaul Ocon’s group benchmark for pole.

Ocon and de Vries both added to their respective sole victories in 2013's Eurocup (Photo: Francois Flamand / DPPI)

Ocon and de Vries both added to their respective sole victories in 2013’s Eurocup (Photo: Francois Flamand / DPPI)

However, the real takeaway moment of the weekend was saved for last. As the race commenced, Gasly held on to first, while Rowland got the best of Ocon off the line. Mere seconds later, the Briton was ahead of de Vries as well, pulling off an risky pass around the outside. He caught up to Gasly and pressed his luck with a lunge down the Frenchman’s inside and, as the Tech 1 racer moved over to close the door, the pair collided. Gasly ended up facing the wrong way, while Rowland carried on with a barely-attached front wing.

A number of chain-reaction incidents in the same corner triggered a safety car, for which Rowland lined up in third and Gasly in tenth. But the fight was already over – at the restart, Rowland, who was already looking at a tough race with the car damage, was handed a drive-through.

The remainder of the race was rather calm, as Ocon cruised to take his second victory in the series, ahead of de Vries and maiden podium finisher Andrea Pizzitola. Gasly drove valiantly after the restart to take sixth and crossed the line as the 2013 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 champion.

Report: De Vries wins at Catalunya as Rowland cuts Gasly?s lead

Report: Gasly crowned champion as Ocon wins final race

FIA F3 European Championship
Marciello secures title, gets one win to Rosenqvist’s two
There was nothing to choose between Marciello and Rosenqvist at Hockenheim (Photo: FIA F3)

There was nothing to choose between Marciello and Rosenqvist at Hockenheim (Photo: FIA F3)

An almost season-long championship battle between Prema’s prodigy Raffaele Marciello and Mucke’s team leader Felix Rosenqvist saw a decisive conclusion in the European F3 season finale at Hockenheim, where two wins from the Swede did not prove sufficient to deny the Ferrari junior the title.

While a 45.5 advantage over Rosenqvist with 75 points up for grabs allowed a lot of breathing room, Marciello did not hold back in qualifying, securing two out of three poles and the duo of title rivals locked out the front row on all three occasions.

In race one, Rosenqvist managed to deny Marciello early celebrations, pulling off one of his trademark great starts to secure the lead. The Swede proceeded to cruise to victory, finishing six seconds ahead of the seemingly conservative Italian. Van Amersfoort Racing’s Sven Muller took his first podium of the year in third, while Britons Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell rounded out the top five.

The Mucke man had pole for race two and would need to win the race with Marciello finishing fifth at most to keep the title fight alive into the final race. With yet another dominant race victory, Rosenqvist held up his part of the bargain, but Marciello produced a calculated drive to fourth, surrendering podium positions to quicker teammates Lynn and Lucas Auer without much in the way of resistance, while Carlin’s Tincknell took another fifth behind.

As such, the title fight was done and dusted. Still, there was another race on the line, made more challenging by the suddenly difficult weather conditions. For Marciello, though, it probably made things easier, as starting under the safety car meant he not under threat of losing first to Rosenqvist at the line. That would prove sufficient as the Italian held on to the race victory, narrowly crossing the line ahead of Rosenqvist while Auer, Tom Blomqvist and, yet again, Tincknell made up the rest of the top five.

Report:?Rosenqvist wins first Hockenheim race to keep title chances alive

Report:?Marciello wraps up F3 title despite another Rosenqvist win

Report:?Marciello finishes with a win in wet final race

Formula Abarth
Frontrunner issues set up free-for-all final weekend at Monza
The slipstream-heavy nature of Monza combined with the frontrunners' technical issues made for a hectic Abarth weekend (Photo: CSAI-ACI)

The slipstream-heavy track combined with the usual frontrunners’ issues made for a hectic Abarth weekend (Photo: CSAI-ACI)

The Formula Abarth season finale at Monza marked the fourth round of the year which saw three different winners in the three races of a weekend. And this time, the somewhat inconsistent results among the frontrunners were especially glaring, as bad luck struck without much in the way of pattern.

Alessio Rovera, the series champion, was the first to suffer a major setback during the weekend, as his car broke down in qualifying, forcing him to the back row of both feature races. Meanwhile, at the front, usual suspects Simone Iaquinta and Michele Beretta locked out the front row for both races, securing a pole position start each.

The two Italians, fighting amongst themselves in the standings for the runner-up position, clearly had the pace on the rest of the field, which was particularly noticeable in race one, when they managed to build up a huge advantage over the others even while fighting for the lead. The inevitable (for Monza) jockeying for position didn’t wind up lasting long, though, as Beretta soon had to serve a drive through for jumping the start.

As such, Iaquinta was seemingly free to cruise to the victory. However, the GSK Motorsport driver would pull into the pitlane with mere minutes to go due to a mechanical failure, giving the surprise victory to Dario Orsini. In another surprising turn, Rovera fought his way up to second, but was overtaken while exiting Parabolica on the final lap by a recovering Beretta.

In race two it was, again, Iaquinta who took the lead early on, in spite of starting from the back row. His car survived the race distance this time and he crossed the line in first, more than 20 seconds ahead of second-placed Orsini. As usual frontrunners Rovera and Beretta had races to forget (the former retiring and the latter losing lots of time after a spin), it was Vitaly Larionov who completed the podium.

The final race of the season saw series newcomer Denis Nagulin join the usual suspect Iaquinta at the front, as the duo ran away from the rest of the pack. On lap eight, the Italian had another car failure and was out of contention, allowing F3 Open regular Nagulin to take a race win on his first weekend in Abarth racing. Rovera made his way from the back of the grid to cross the line in second, while Larionov was once again third, inherting the position after Orsini’s car failed inspection post-race.

Iaquinta’s car issues have allowed Beretta to secure the runner-up spot in the standings.

Formula Renault 1.6 NEC
Geerts beats Rump tot title, albeit with team orders at play
Team tactics came into it, but there was no begrudging Geerts the championship title (Photo: Chris Schotanus)

Team tactics came into it, but there was no begrudging Geerts the championship title (Photo: Chris Schotanus)

The inaugural season of Formula Renault 1.6 NEC came down to a classic two-driver showdown, which was to be decided in the series finale at Assen. Estonian Martin Rump and Dutchman Roy Geerts emerged as the chief title contenders early on in the season, remaining the only two drivers to lead the standings throughout the first ten races, the former emerging from them with a lead of just six points.

On the series’ second visit to the Dutch track, Rump took the early advantage, qualifying in second and third for the two races while Geerts lined up in eighth and seventh. The double pole, meanwhile, was secured by Pontus Fredricsson.

Race one was the appropriate “calm before the storm”. Fredricsson had a bad start and wound up retiring over the opening lap. Rump took over at the front, but subsequetly surrendered the lead to Paul Blomqvist and settled for second. Larry ten Voorde and Patricio O’Ward were third and fourth respectively, while Geerts crossed the line in fifth, his deficit to Rump now? at 14 points.

All the weekend’s drama was saved up for race two. Fredricsson, again, was ruled out of contention right away, when he made a jump start off the line. As Tommy van Erp inherited the lead when Pontus served his drive through, Geerts was passing car after car, while Rump started falling down the order with a car issue.

The Estonian tumbled to seventh, which would’ve been enough for the title unless Geerts took the win. However, the Dutchman was working on it – he made it up to third on the road and, as his teammate ten Voorde passed van Erp for the lead, he managed to follow through. What went on next was exactly what was to be expected – ten Voorde moved over on the final lap, allowing Geerts into the win. Blomqvist took third, van Erp and Janneau Esmeijer rounded out the top five. And Rump? He retook sixth despite the car troubles, but that still left him one point away from the title, which now belonged to Roy Geerts.

Report: Blomqvist victorious in first FR1.6 NEC race at Assen

Report: Geerts takes title in controversial Assen race two

Japanese F3

Series champion Yuichi Nakayama ended his season in Japanese F3 early, as he withdrew rom the final round at Fuj following practice sessions.

With the dominant frontrunner absent, it was Katsumasa Chiyo who got to shine. The experienced driver took his first race victory in the penultimate race of the season, clearing the rest of the field by seven seconds, as Nobuharu Matsushita beat Takamoto Katsuta to second.

In the wet second race, Chiyo lost a number of positions over the opening lap, but managed to recover just as quickly. On lap three, he overtook poleman Katsuta for the lead and ran away with victory. Behind Katsuta, who had to settle for second, 2011 Japanese F3 champion Yuhi Sekiguchi made it onto the podium on his guest appearance.

PaddockScout Driver of the Weekend
Kevin Magnussen

The DAMS car was clearly quite good at Catalunya, but that doesn’t quite explain how Magnussen almost made us forget about there being another 24 drivers in the field.