Lotus junior Matthieu Vaxiviere won the opening race of the Formula Renault 3.5 weekend at Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday, his second victory of the season, despite making a poor start.
This was the race of the weekend where the cars all run with low-downforce settings. After one aborted start, Vaxiviere made a terrible getaway from pole position as bootfulls of wheelspin allowed Nicholas Latifi to lead from Vaxiviere and points leader Jazeman Jaafar.
Behind them, Oliver Rowland lost time and places over the opening corners, while Manor F1 racer Roberto Merhi spun at Les Combes. Pietro Fantin then shunted heavily at the downhill left-hander with no name, bringing out safety car. He walked away unscathed.
Latifi made a mess of his restart at the last chicane, allowing Vaxiviere right onto his tail, ahead of Jaafar and Nyck de Vries.
Stoneman grabbed fourth from de Vries just after the restart, with Rowland then putting pressure on the McLaren junior.
Vaxiviere effectively won the race with a brilliant move around the outside of Latifi at Pouhon, who had run wide at the previous corner. And with Latifi clearly struggling for grip, Jaafar pulled a neat switchback move on him at La Source a lap later.
Stoneman looked like he was going to blow past Latifi into Les Combes, but Latifi went straight on at the left-hander, also passing Jaafar in a massively unfair manner.
Jaafar repassed Latifi at Blanchimont half a lap later, as Rowland caught right up to Stoneman having dealt with de Vries.
Stoneman nailed Latifi for third at La Source on lap eight, but later briefly went off track at the final chicane on lap 13.
Latifi had a scare when he ran wide at high speed at Raidillon, but he clung to fourth.
Vaxiviere stormed away up front, setting fastest lap to put himself 4s clear of Jaafar, with Stoneman dropping well back but keeping Latifi and Rowland at bay.
“I’m a bit angry about my start," he said. "But as a team we did a really good job on the low downforce.”
Tom Dillmann passed Tio Ellinas for sixth late on, as de Vries dropped to ninth.
Dutch female racer Beitske Visser, whose front-row starting position was taken away from her by scrutineers for a flat-floor infringement, did not start the race.
|2||Jazeman Jaafar||Fortec Motorsports||41m22.103||5.043|
|4||Nicholas Latifi||Arden Motorsport||41m29.474||12.414|
|5||Oliver Rowland||Fortec Motorsports||41m31.092||14.032|
|6||Tom Dillmann||Jagonya Ayam with Carlin||41m32.164||15.104|
|7||Tio Ellinas||Strakka Racing||41m32.935||15.875|
|8||Gustav Malja||Strakka Racing||41m34.977||17.917|
|9||Nyck de Vries||DAMS||41m36.284||19.224|
|10||Egor Orudzhev||Arden Motorsport||41m38.000||20.940|
|11||Mendert van Buuren||Lotus||41m42.871||25.811|
|12||Bruno Bonifacio||International Draco Racing||41m48.068||31.008|
|14||Roy Nissany||Tech 1 Racing||41m49.675||32.615|
|15||Sean Gelael||Jagonya Ayam with Carlin||42m01.364||44.304|
|16||Philo Paz Armand||Pons Racing||42m15.079||58.019|
|R||Roberto Merhi||Pons Racing|
|R||Aurelien Panis||Tech 1 Racing|
|R||Pietro Fantin||International Draco Racing|