Aleshin shores up mid-season leadership Carlin's Mikhail Aleshin enjoyed yet another victory, at a wet Magny-Cours, bolstering his position as Formula Renault 3.5 Series championsip leader, following his third win of the season. The...
Aleshin shores up mid-season leadership
Carlin's Mikhail Aleshin enjoyed yet another victory, at a wet Magny-Cours, bolstering his position as Formula Renault 3.5 Series championsip leader, following his third win of the season. The Russian leads ISR's Sebastian Guerrieri and Comtec Racing's Stefano Coletti. Guerrieri took advantage of disappointment for Tech 1 Racing's Daniel Ricciardo, Fortec Motorsport's Sten Pentus and Tech 1 Racing's Brendon Hartley to carve himself a solid second place in the championship.
The first qualifying session of the day was a close run thing as Epsilon Euskadi's Albert Costa and Junior Lotus Racing's Nelson Panciatici both looked like they had it in the bag. But in the closing moments, Esteban Guerrieri left the competition had the final say, to start in pole for the first time this season. The three drivers lined up in formation on a track that was still wet from a morning of incessant rain. Fortec Motorsport's Jon Lancaster stalled even before the warm-up lap, to start from the pits.
The first lap was an exciting one. Guerrieri made the best start and took the lead ahead of Aleshin and Coletti, who started from 11th. Nelson Panciatici and Daniel Ricciardo completed the top 5, while Albert Costa dropped back from second to sixth place. Several drivers retired during the first lap, including Tech 1 Racing's Brendon Hartley who was forced to leave his car at the Adelaide hairpin.
Guerrieri and Aleshin continued to push the pace at the start of the race, building up a lead over Coletti who was busy fending off the advances of Panciatici and Ricciardo. On the 6th lap, Panciatici found the opening he needed at Adelaide to squeeze past Coletti and into third The man from Monaco now had to contend with Ricciardo, and Panciatici made the most of a noticeably drier track, gradually catching up with the lead duo which still consisted of Guerrieri and Aleshin. The three drivers were neck and neck 15 minutes into the race. In the chasing pack, Pons Racing's Daniel Zampieri and Sten Pentus were making steady progress. Having started 16th and 21st respectively, they were now 7th and 8th after seven laps.
Aleshin was steadily chipping away at the leader, looking for an opening, while Nelson Panciatici was lying in wait for both of them. As always, a three-way fight played into the hands of Stefano Coletti, 4th, who caught up with the leaders. On lap 15, Mikhail Aleshin found his chance. Accelerating cleanly away from the Lycee chicane, he took control of the race. At the same time, the positions were changing further back as Daniel Zampieri overtook Costa to move up to 6th.
Once in the lead, Aleshin drove effortlessly to his third win of the season, to reinforce his lead over the championship. Esteban Guerrieri finished second, while Nelso Panciatici handed third place to Stefano Coletti when he failed to take a corner. The Frenchman finished 4th, just ahead of Zampieri. Aleshin and Geurrieir profited from a poor showing by Daniel Ricciardo, 6th, to open the gap in the points further.
Mikhail Aleshin : "This is an important day for me. Qualifying didn't go too well, but my car was great in the race. In terms of the Championship, it couldn't be better. Now for the fun part of the day: the Renault F1 Team exhibition!"
Esteban Guerrieri : "It's good news for the championship, as I've moved into second place. I'll be fighting Mikhail for the title, but I mustn't forget the rest of the competition. The grip on the track increased during the race and I think Mikhail had a better set-up than me."
Stefano Coletti : "Having started from 11th, it's brilliant to finish third. I got off to a very good start. After that things got a bit sticky with Panciatici, but I put pressure on Esteban at the end of the race. It's a good result."