Vaxiviere beats de Vries after dramatic last lap clash

Matthieu Vaxiviere won the second Formula Renault 3.5 race at Aragon after a controversial coming together with long-time race leader Nyck de Vries on the final lap.

The contact between the pair came on the exit of the hairpin, as Vaxiviere passed de Vries around the outside on a drying track after the race had been interrupted by heavy rain.

A Safety Car start was required after a deluge had hit the Aragon circuit following the conclusion of qualifying, and after 13 minutes of formation running the red flags were shown due to worsening visibility.

Proceedings got back under way after a 20-minute delay, with poleman de Vries leading Vaxiviere when the Safety Car peeled in after a couple more laps.

The McLaren-backed driver proceeded to build a healthy cushion over the rest of the field with the benefit of a clear track, but as conditions improved he was steadily reeled in by Vaxiviere, with nothing to separate the pair once they made their mandatory stops together.

With the track still damp off-line, the Lotus driver found himself unable to pass de Vries until the last lap, when he darted to the outside on the approach to the hairpin at the end of the back straight, getting better traction at the exit to put himself alongside.

De Vries then clumsily made a belated attempt at covering Vaxiviere, resulting in contact between the pair that left the DAMS car worse off and three seconds down at the flag. The collision was investigated by the stewards, but no action was taken.

Behind, Oliver Rowland was a distant third, losing touch with the leading duo early on after fending off an attack from Fortec teammate Jazeman Jaafar but staying well clear of those behind. The Brit now leads Vaxiviere by three points at the top of the drivers’ standings.

Tio Ellinas was the biggest mover, the Strakka driver jumping up to fourth place in the stops ahead of Carlin’s Tom Dillmann, with Meindurt van Buuren (Lotus) and Dean Stoneman (DAMS) next up as Jaafar slid down the order in the closing laps.

Alfonso Celis Jr (AVF) secured ninth place, while Roberto Merhi (Pons Racing) held off a gaggle of cars to claim the final point in 10th for Pons Racing.

Race results:

Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
Matthieu Vaxiviere Lotus 1h06m48.647
Nyck de Vries DAMS 3.459
Oliver Rowland Fortec Motorsports 9.926
Tio Ellinas Strakka Racing 20.518
Tom Dillmann Carlin 26.285
Meindert van Buuren Lotus 29.111
Dean Stoneman DAMS 29.607
Jazeman Jaafar Fortec Motorsports 32.629
Alfonso Celis AVF 34.717
10  Roberto Merhi Pons Racing 48.122
11  Bruno Bonifacio Draco 48.303
12  Egor Orudzhev Arden Motorsport 48.842
13  Pietro Fantin Draco 49.043
14  Aurelien Panis Tech 1 Racing 1m00.323
15  Nicholas Latifi Arden Motorsport 1m10.161
16  Sean Gelael Carlin 1m11.014
17  Roy Nissany Tech 1 Racing 1m11.100
18  Philo Paz Armand Pons Racing 1m11.787
19  Beitske Visser AVF 1m14.210
20  Gustav Malja Strakka Racing 1 Lap
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About this article
Series Formula V8 3.5
Event Aragon
Track Motorland Aragon
Drivers Tio Ellinas , Matthieu Vaxiviere , Oliver Rowland
Article type Race report