Race One (May 14th)
Kevin Korjus took his second Formula Renault 3.5 victory of the season in the opening race at Monza in May.
The Estonian held off Carlin’s Jean-Eric Vergne to the flag, although Korjus spent much of the event under pressure from the other Carlin-racer, Robert Wickens. Daniil Move completed the podium with an assured drive.
Korjus ran 2nd behind poleman Cesar Ramos during the opening tours, but a fifth lap error by the Brazilian Ramos in the Rettifilo allowed Korjus through to the lead.
It would take Wickens a further five laps to make a rather cheeky pass on Ramos. After several overly aggressive defensive moves by Ramos, Wickens gently tapped the rear of the Brazilian, tempting the Fortec runner into a light spin. As a result, Wickens would receive a four-place grid penalty for the second race.
Ramos would continue to fall backwards, enduring several more spins. He would retire four laps from the end, completing a miserable day for the Fortec racer.
Not content with 2nd, Wickens charged Korjus for the lead, with the latter outbraking himself at the Rettifilo, allowing the Canadian into the lead.
Wickens lead would last barely half-a-lap. A clutch problem slowed the Canadian dramatically going through Ascari, before his Carlin ground to a halt shortly afterward. It gave Korjus an unchallenged lead and race victory.
Vergne, meanwhile, surged up the order after starting on the sixth row, assuming 7th spot on the opening lap. Beyond the Wickens and Ramos retirements, passes on Stéphane Richelmi (lap 2) and Move (lap 6) helped Vergne up the order, improving further when Sergio Canamasas spun into retirement at the Parabolica.
Vergne came close to Korjus at the flag, missing out on victory by 1.611 seconds. Move enjoyed something of a quiet run to 3rd – the Russian did not feature the pace to threaten the leaders, nor was his position threatened from behind.
Chris van der Drift too had a quiet race to 4th, aided by a pass on Richelmi early on, while Brendon Hartley had a tougher run to 5th, thanks to overtakes on Jake Rosenzweig (lap 4), Albert Costa (lap 8), Ramos (lap 12), Daniel Zampieri (lap 14) and Richelmi (lap 22).
Richelmi would fall further still when Daniel Ricciardo surged by the Monegasque driver on the 22nd tour, completing an emphatic drive for the Aussie, who had started 26th and last. Richelmi would take 7th at the flag.
Walter Grubmuller rose slowly up the order to assume 8th spot after starting on the seventh row; however he was well ahead of the late charging Oliver Webb.
Starting 19th, Webb rose to 9th following late moves on Alexander Rossi and Andrea Negrao. Negrao held off a rearguard charge to take the final points place. The Brazilian held a seven-car train at bay to take 10th at the chequered flag.
2011 Formula Renault 3.5 Rnd of Monza (Rd 3, Race 1, 28 laps) Pos Driver Team Time / Gap 1. Kevin Korjus Tech 1 Racing 46:33.880 2. Jean-Eric Vergne Carlin +1.611 3. Daniil Move P1 Motorsport +3.908 4. Chris van der Drift Mofaz Racing +12.962 5. Brendon Hartley Gravity-Charouz +16.178 6. Daniel Ricciardo ISR +17.126 7. Stephane Richelmi Draco Racing +24.226 8. Walter Grubmuller P1 Motorsport +25.929 9. Oliver Webb Pons Racing +37.448 10. Andre Negrao Draco Racing +38.496 FL. Robert Wickens Carlin 1:38.627
Race Two (May 15th)
Jean-Eric Vergne took a controversial victory at Monza in the weekend’s second Formula Renault 3.5 race.
The Carlin racer took the chequered flag just half-a-second ahead of ISR’s Daniel Ricciardo, only for Vergne to be given a ten-second post-race penalty for exceeding track limits.
However Vergne appealed the decision successfully and the win was given back to the Red Bull junior several days after the event.
Ricciardo led off the line, although the initial threat appeared to come from Tech 1’s Kevin Korjus; however early contact between Korjus and Vergne would prematurely finish the Estonian’s race.
Vergne damaged his front wing in the clash, but it would not be enough to stop the Frenchman slipstreaming by Ricciardo for the lead at the Roggia chicane.
Ricciardo did push Vergne over the limit on the eleventh lap, leading Vergne to take to the escape road at the Roggia – a defence that brought the contentious penalty.
For the remainder of the race, Vergne held Ricciardo at bay, with the Australian struggling to get close enough on the straights to force the issue.
Alexander Rossi lay close by in 3rd for the duration of the running, but the Fortec racer did not possess the extra pace to topple the leading pair.
Always within three seconds for the top spot, Rossi drove a sensible race that may have given him a victory on a different day, but there was little the American could do to topple the masterclass ahead.
Rossi’s Fortec teammate Cesar Ramos endured a tough run to 4th. The Brazilian partially made up for his race one horror showing to battle off Albert Costa (Epic Racing) and Arthur Pic (Tech 1).
It could have been much more for Costa. The Spaniard clashed with Carlin’s Robert Wickens for 3rd on the entry to Ascari on the seventh tour, taking Wickens out of the race and leaving Costa aerodynamically wounded.
Now passed by Rossi, Ramos and Pic, Costa continued passing Pic on lap twenty-one. Despite constant pressure to the flag, Ramos held 4th, while Costa retained a top-five at least.
Along with Anton Nebylitskiy and Daniil Move, Pic received a ten-second post-race penalty for a jumpstart, relegating the Frenchman to 9th.
Pic’s penalty promoted Chris van der Drift to 6th, just ahead of Nelson Panciatici (7th) and Sergio Canamasas (8th). It was a fabulous drive by van der drift, who climbed from 16th at the start 10th by the third lap – from there, the trio fought with Nebylitskiy, Stéphane Richelmi and Andre Negrao over the lower points positions,
Van der Drift made the decisive move on the sixth lap, jumping ahead of the sluggish Panciatici and Nebylitskiy. After several laps of pressure, Canamasas cracked on the final lap, leaving Van der Drift and Panciatici to slip by. Negrao lost several seconds in the final few laps, securing 10th spot and the final point.
2011 Formula Renault 3.5 Rnd of Monza (Rd 3, Race 2, 28 laps) Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Jean-Eric Vergne Carlin 46:31.454 2. Daniel Ricciardo ISR +0.508 3. Alexander Rossi Fortec +3.073 4. Cesar Ramos Fortec +11.669 5. Albert Costa Epic Racing +12.016 6. Chris van der Drift Mofaz Racing +21.426 7. Nelson Panciatici KMP Racing +21.792 8. Sergio Canamasas BVM-Target +22.637 9. Arthur Pic Tech 1 Racing +22.688 10. Andre Negrao Draco Racing +25.243 FL. Daniel Ricciardo ISR 1:38.776 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 Series (Round 3) Drivers’ Championship Pos Driver Points 1. Jean-Eric Vergne 100 2. Robert Wickens 71 3. Alexander Rossi 70 4. Albert Costa 62 5. Kevin Korjus 50 Teams’ Championship Pos Team Points 1. Carlin 171 2. Fortec 94 3. Epic Racing 63 4. Tech 1 Racing 52 5. P1 Motorsport 51