Advantage Parente Alvaro Parente (Tech 1 Racing) may not have had a dream weekend at Estoril, but he did score some precious points to give himself a bit of breathing space over Ben Hanley (Prema Powerteam). The two men will travel to Barcelona...
Alvaro Parente (Tech 1 Racing) may not have had a dream weekend at Estoril, but he did score some precious points to give himself a bit of breathing space over Ben Hanley (Prema Powerteam). The two men will travel to Barcelona this weekend for a final showdown.
Mathematically speaking, four men could still take the World Series Formula Renault 3.5 title: in addition to Parente and Hanley, Milos Pavlovic (Draco Racing) and Filipe Albuquerque (Epsilon Euskadi) also have the slimmest of chances.
In reality, though, it's a two-horse race. The only man to rival Sebastian Vettel in the early part of the season, Parente has shown remarkable consistency, finishing in the points 12 times in 15 races. With two pole positions and two race wins (at Monaco and Spa), he has also shown ample evidence of explosive speed. Impatience has cost him a few points on more than one occasions, but he will go to Catalonia as the favourite.
Ben Hanley, 22 points behind, has it all to do. Even if the RDD driver scores maximum points - which is unlikely, given the reverse grid for race 2 - he still needs Parente to score 13 points or fewer if he is to be crowned champion. With five podium finishes under his belt, including a win at Magny-Cours, he too will have to avoid repeating the mistakes of previous races, as his second place is far from certain.
Just nine points adrift of Hanley, Milos Pavlovic is determined to finish the season on a high! Like Parente, he has four podium finishes and two wins to his name, his victories coming at Spa and Estoril. All these results, however, came in races where the start grid was reversed. Despite some below-par performances in qualifying, the Serbian driver has drawn on all of his considerable experience to produce some solid races: on Sunday evening, he will become the first driver ever to have competed in every single race in a World Series Formula Renault 3.5 season!
Two strong performances at Estoril have put Filipe Albuquerque back in the running for a place in the championship top three. The Portuguese driver is just four points behind Pavlovic, which makes him a contender for the runner-up spot.
Plenty of drivers have the capacity to influence the battle for the top places. With a little experience behind them now, the competition's young guns will not be intimidated by their elders. Miguel Molina's superb victory for Pons Racing at Estoril showed as much. He would dearly love to repeat the feat in front of his home crowd, who are sure to offer him plenty of encouragement. Another Spaniard in the thick of the battle is Alvaro Barba (Draco Racing), who will be aiming for a place in the top five.
Having notched up three podium finishes since Donington and started from pole at Estoril, Julien Jousse (Tech 1 Racing) continues to go from strength to strength. He currently lies sixth in the overall standings, level on points with Giedo van der Garde. The Victory Engineering driver is still looking for his first top-three finish, and will be keen to end his season with a flourish.
Guillaume Moreau and Bertrand Baguette (KTR), Salvador Duran (Interwetten.com), Fairuz Fauzy (Cram Competition), Clivio Piccione and Marco Bonanomi (RC Motorsport), Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin Motorsport) and Davide Valsecchi (Epsilon Euskadi) will all have their sights higher than merely a place in the top ten. Every one of them will be aiming for victory.