Photo: Renault Sport/DPPI
His chances looked all but over when a spin eliminated him from the final race with rival Daniil Kvyat in the lead, but Stoffel Vandoorne ended up as champion after Kvyat fell to eighth…
Stoffel Vandoorne has won the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 title at the final race of the season in Barcelona. After finishing second, one place ahead of his rival Daniil Kvyat, on Saturday, Vandoorne had a 14 point lead coming into Sunday’s finale. However, while Kvyat took pole position, Vandoorne had to make do with 16th on the grid. A rain shower before the race meant that some drivers started on wets and others on slicks, most notably Kvyat picking the former and Vandoorne the latter. While the wets were the best tyre to be on at the start, Vandoorne still progressed through the other slick runners to move from 16th on the first lap, but then spun as he tried to overtake Steijn Schothorst on lap two.
That forced him into retirement while Kvyat led, but the Russian was soon handed a drive-through penalty for having his tyres changed after the five-minute warning on the grid. Having opened up a strong early lead he was able to rejoin in third place – just where he needed to finish to overhaul the 14 point gap to Vandoorne. He quickly moved back into the lead, but then the conditions came to those on slicks. Oliver Rowland snatched the lead, and Kvyat fell to eighth place by the flag, meaning Vandoorne was champion.
The Belgian second year driver had showed great consistency during the season, finishing every race in the top four until that final encounter. He also claimed four wins and six pole positions. He also did a partial campaign in the NEC, winning five of the seven races he contested. As a prize for the title, he has won ?500,000 towards a Formula Renault 3.5 Series drive. Assuming he makes that switch he would be following in the footsteps of Albert Costa, Kevin Korjus and Robin Frijns, who have all gone on to find immediate success at that level.
“It wasn?t easy watching all that after the mistake I made and the collision I had with Schothorst,” said Vandoorne. “I did think, though, that the drivers on slicks would get the upper hand in the end, and luckily for me that?s how it turned out. This title is an important achievement for my career, after my F4 Eurocup 1.6 win in 2010. Thanks to the ?500,000 award, my goal for next year is to drive in Formula Renault 3.5 Series. I start testing on Wednesday with Arden Caterham.”