Van der Garde takes title!
With an eighth-place finish at Estoril, Giedo Van der Garde (P1 Motorsport) has secured the Formula Renault 3.5 Series title. Spanish driver Miguel Molina (Prema Powerteam) picked up his second race win of the year, ahead of Charles Pic (Tech 1 Racing) and Julien Jousse (Tech 1 Racing). Tech 1 Racing now stand top of the Teams standings.
Poleman Miguel Molina was the first man into the opening bend, with Julien Jousse right on his tail, trying to find a way past. Charles Pic took advantage of the struggle just ahead of him to take the lead. Pic was still in front at the end of lap 1, followed by Miguel Molina, Marco Bonanomi (Red Devil Team Comtec), Julien Jousse and Bertrand Baguette (International Draco Racing).
Farther down the field, Alvaro Barba (Prema Powerteam) ran into Fabio Carbone (Ultimate Signature) from behind, forcing both drivers to retire and handing Giedo Van der Garde, lying eighth at that stage, the title!
Charles Pic made the most of the open track in front of him, pulling away from Molina. Farther back, Marco Bonanomi was leading the chasing pack of Julien Jousse, Bertrand Baguette, Robert Wickens (Carlin Motorsport) and Giedo Van der Garde.
Julien Jousse was the first of the leading drivers to pull in to the pits for his mandatory stop. Jousse stopped on lap 7, and Pic one lap later, handing Miguel Molina the lead. Molina was able to string together a series of rapid laps, while Charles Pic lost time behind Pippa Mann (P1 Motorsport).
Miguel Molina waited until lap 16 to make his pit stop. The strategy paid off for Molina and Prema Powerteam, as the Spaniard rejoined the race ahead of Charles Pic.
Having built a lead of over two seconds with ten laps remaining, Miguel Molina was untroubled for the rest of the race. Behind him lay the two Tech 1 Racing men, Charles Pic and Julien Jousse, the latter coming under pressure from Bertrand Baguette and Marco Bonanomi in the closing stages.
The end of the race saw a spectacular accident involving Salvador Duran (Interwetten.com Racing), who ran into Fairuz Fauzy (Fortec Motorsport) from behind and was sent into a roll. The Mexican driver was unharmed.
And so Miguel Molina claims his second victory of the season, with Charles Pic second and Julien Jousse third. Giedo Van der Garde's eighth-place finish was enough to see him crowned Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion with a meeting to spare. It is the first title of the Dutchman's career and reward for his exemplary consistency. With two drivers on the podium today, Tech1 Racing take the lead in the teams standings.
Miguel Molina: "I won here last year and I've done it again this year. I like this circuit and this gives me motivation for the last round in Barcelona. I hope to win again there."
Charles Pic: "I got a strong start, but then I lost too much time behind Pippa Mann. I have no regrets; it's a good result for the team."
Julien Jousse: "I've made up ground on Fabio Carbone, and Tech 1 Racing have gone top of the Teams standings, which is great. I have to win in Barcelona!"
Giedo Van der Garde: "It's a strange weekend because Roly Vincini, the P1 Motorsport team manager, isn't with us today. We'd like to dedicate this title to him. It hasn't been our best weekend of the year, but it was all about picking up the last few points I needed. It's time for me to look to the future but for now I just want to savour this special moment."