Two pole positions and two easy victories in two days! Kevin Magnussen and DAMS dominated head and shoulders the French round of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series on the Paul Ricard circuit. Even if a point of the technical regulations led to their exclusion on Saturday evening, the lead opened up in the championships (43 points for Magnussen in the drivers' and 41 for DAMS in the teams') puts them in a very strong position to clinch the 2013 titles. Norman Nato joined in the celebrations on Sunday with a superb qualifying performance (6th), and a top-10 finish that promises great things for the final in Barcelona in three weeks.
Unfortunately, on Saturday evening after scrutineering the stewards excluded the Danish driver from the first round. The reason? The paint of the rear flap didn't comply. Thus, victory went to da Costa in front of Vandoorne who reduced the gap to Kevin in the championship by half (18 points). Nato was hit in the rear at the start of the race and suffered a puncture: he finished a lap behind after setting excellent times.
Far from being discouraged Kevin's motivation was boosted a hundredfold for the next day, and he set his second pole position of the weekend with more than 3/10th of a second in hand over Sorensen. Vandoorne was seventh just behind a remarkable Nato. Once again the race was a stroll in the park for the young Dane who quickly opened up a cushion of five seconds, which he controlled till the chequered flag.
His French team-mate also made a good start, carried out his pit stop early on, but despite his speed (2nd fastest time) he was unable to take full advantage of this out-of-sync strategy and he finished ninth. The fact that Vandoorne retired in heat 2 was of crucial importance for Magnussen and DAMS as they opened up a big gap before the final round in Barcelona.
François Sicard, Managing Director: "The weekend finished well after a pretty hectic Saturday evening. Kevin and the team were finally rewarded by a magnificent victory on Sunday, which showed that the wing judged to be not in conformity gave no advantage. We exchanged emails with Renault concerning the paint on the flap, but the regulations were never clarified on this point. This being said, we want the championships to be decided out on the track and not in the stewards' room. A big bravo to Kevin for his perfect weekend, both psychologically and from a sporting point of view. I'd also like to underline Norman's performance on Sunday, which deserved a better result."
Kevin Magnussen: "Obviously, I was very disappointed on Saturday evening for the team and for myself. But today Sunday I scored maybe the greatest victory of my career. I really wanted it and everything went off well. I was able to open up a gap quickly and if necessary I could have pushed harder. Now we just have to have a good weekend in Barcelona to clinch the titles."
Norman Nato: "I had an up-and-down weekend but finally I've got cause for satisfaction. I found the right rhythm in qualifying on Sunday and I was able to fight at the front. Saturday's puncture obliged me to start on Sunday with a tyre that had done the whole race the previous day and that handicapped me a little. Our strategy with an early stop in the race didn't work as well as we'd hoped. So I'm a bit disappointed with the result, and I hope to reward the team for its efforts at the final round."