Daniel Ricciardo back in force!
Tech 1 Racing's Daniel Ricciardo was on form for the start of the Hockenheim meeting. He confirmed his abilities by winning the first Formula Renault 3.5 series race of the weekend to find himself just two points behind Carlin's Mikhail Aleshin, currently fifth. Ricciardo was joined on the podium by ISR's Esteban Guerrieri and Comtec's Jon Lancaster.
Daniel Ricciardo showed his full intentions during qualifying this morning, claiming his sixth pole position of the season. Esteban Guerrieri and Mikhail Aleshin also put on an impressive turn of speed, starting in second and third place respectively.
Ricciardo took made the most of a smooth start to take an immediate lead. Behind him Mikhail Aleshin tried to get the better of Esteban Guerrieri, but the Russian locked all four wheels, losing several places as a result of a costly maneuver to fall back to fifth place. In the pack there were ructions between Fortec Motorsport's Sten Pentus, Junior Lotus Racing's Nelson Panciatici, ISR's Filip Salaquarda and P1 Motorsport's Jan Charouz. Panciatici and Charouz were able to stay with the pack initially, while Salaquarda and Pentus returned to the pits, but were forced to retire, and the safety car entered the action while the stewards cleared the track.
At the restart Ricciardo made his second clean getaway of the day, holding on to his lead ahead of Guerrieri, Fortec Motorsport's Jon Lancaster, Pons Racing's Daniel Zampieri, and Mikhail Aleshin. In the pack Comtec Racing's Stefano Coletti made an assault on International Draco Racing's Nathanaël Berthon and snatched 7th place as his reward. Epsilon Euskadi's Albert Costa also made up a place at the expense of KMP Racing's Anton Nebylitskiy, the Spanish driver moving into ninth. One lap later he moved up another place to eighth, this time getting the better of Berthon.
At the head of the race Daniel Ricciardo tried to put some distance between himself and Esteban Guerrier, but the Argentinean stood his ground. However, he was forced to contend with Jon Lancaster's ambitions, the British driver hanging on tight to his rear wing. The fight between Guerrieri and Lancaster played into the hands of Ricciardo. Who had nearly three seconds lead by the halfway mark.
In the second half of the race, aside from the incessant struggle between Guerrieri and Lancaster, all eyes were on Mikhail Aleshin. In fifth, the Russian was under attack from Comtec Racing's Greg Mansell himself struggling to hold off teammate Stefano Coletti, followed closely by Albert Costa.
Esteban Guerrieri stepped up the pace toward the end leaving behind Jon Lancaster and making up lost ground on Daniel Ricciardo, but it was simply too late in the day. Daniel Ricciardo claimed his third win of the season to put himself just two points behind Mikhail Aleshin, who finished a disappointing fifth today. The podium was completed by Esteban Guerrieri and Jon Lancaster, who enjoyed his best result of the season so far.
Daniel Ricciardo : "After a two-month break, it's nice to come back to a win. It's a good start, now I need to go all out to win again tomorrow. To be honest, it wasn't an easy drive, as I was never entirely happy with the car."
Esteban Guerrieri : "We lost all hope of the championship at Budapest. After what happened to us there, it's good news for the whole team to finish in second place today. I really had a fight on my hands from Jon Lancaster at the start of the race; I tried to catch up with Daniel, but he was just too quick."
Jon Lancaster : "I didn't have a great start to the season, we had a lot of problems and nothing seemed to go right. The summer break has done me good. We're off to a fresh start and I'm hoping that this podium will be first of many."
-source: renault sport