Ricciardo and Aleshin: the race goes on
Starting from pole position, Tech 1 Racing's Daniel Ricciardo was unstoppable in today's Formula Renault 3.5 Series at the Barcelona circuit. Leading from start to finish, the Australian beat Carlin's Mikhail Aleshin to draw level with him in the Drivers championship. Fourth, ISR's Esteban Guerrieri is now out of the running, while the Teams title goes to Tech 1 Racing for the third consecutive year.
The first qualifying session could only be described as a thriller. Daniel Ricciardo held provisional pole before running into a gravel trap and thus, with the red flag flying, the Australian's time was disallowed. Nevertheless, his second fastest time allowed him to hold on to pole despite attempts in the closing minutes by Mikhail Aleshin and Esteban Guerrieri to dislodge him. The three drivers qualified in that order, Ricciardo celebrating his eighth pole position of the season.
As the lights changed, all eyes were on Ricciardo, Aleshin and Guerrieri, the three drivers making a clean getaway to remain in their starting order. Having started way back in seventh-place, Jean-Eric Vergne took everyone by surprise to claim fourth place at the end of the first lap, closely followed by Epsilon Euskadi's Albert Costa and ISR's Filip Salaquarda.
Daniel Ricciardo was blazing a trail at the start of the race, setting fastest lap after fastest lap in an attempt to break away from his rivals. Mikhail Aleshin held on as best he could, while Esteban Guerrieri was kept busy holding off Jean-Eric Vergne and Albert Costa, both of whom clearly had their eye on the third step of the podium.
After ten laps, Ricciardo found himself in the enviable position of having a nine-second lead over Aleshin. The Russian was in a similar position, with an eight-second advantage over third-place Esteban Guerrieri. Guerrieri, on the other hand, had no such luxury, still within easy reach of Jean-Eric Vergne and Albert Costa. The Frenchman spotted his opening on lap twelve and it was soon Costa who was snapping at Guerrieri's heels. Even though the result would ultimately deprive the Argentinean of the title, he was clearly not going to succumb to the boy from Barcelona without a fight. Behind the five front-runners, International Draco Racing's Nathanael Berthon made up a place when he overtook Filip Salaquarda.
This was the last change to the race order. Ricciardo's fourth win of the season brings him level on points with Mikhail Aleshin, however, having chalked up one more win than the Russian, the Australian finds himself leader in the Championship. For Tech 1 Racing, Ricciardo's win, combined with a third-place for Jean-Eric Vergne, means Simon and Sarah Abadie's team takes the Teams championship in Formula Renault 3.5 Series for the third year running.
Quote, unquote :
Daniel Ricciardo : "I really attacked hard at the start, my lead just kept getting bigger lap after lap, and quicker than I would have imagined. After that I just held steady and kept up the pace. We're equal on points now, so it's all to play for tomorrow. There's no more math to do, whoever finishes first is the champion!"
Mikhail Aleshin : "When I saw that I couldn't keep up with Daniel, I just concentrated on keeping the third-place driver at arms length. I had a bit of hairy moment at the end of the race when my wheels locked and I went straight on, and I'm not really sure why. As always, I need to focus 100% tomorrow. Whatever happens, we can be proud of our achievements this season."
Jean-Eric Vergne : "I had a great start, I overtook several cars and went round the outside of Albert Costa. Then I got the better of Esteban Guerrieri and I took the first chance I had to overtake. Seeing as I missed collective testing yesterday, it's a great result. I couldn't have done better."
-source: renault sport