Daniel Ricciardo took his second Formula Renault 3.5 victory on the streets of Monte Carlo.
The Australian held Robert Wickens at bay for all thirty laps, although the Canadian’s challenge was twice hit by safety car periods. A distant Brendon Hartley completed the podium.
A poor start by Hartley gave Wickens an easy 2nd spot, yet the Carlin racer could not break the quick and assured Ricciardo, despite the Australian rarely possessing a lead larger than one second.
Monaco’s tight confines ensured Wickens had little opportunity to push Ricciardo over the edge, allowing the ISR man to claim the victory by a mere four-tenths.
Once passed off the line by Wickens, Hartley settled into 3rd, neither challenging nor being challenged for position thereafter.
Kevin Korjus took 4th spot for Tech 1 Racing, but only after Albert Costa received a ten-second penalty for jumping the start, dropping the Spaniard to 9th. Costa struggled for a time with a rather loose Epic Racing machine; however Korjus proved too weak to force an additional error from Costa.
It could well have been 4th for Alexander Rossi. The American spent the first half of the event on Costa’s tail, eventually passing the Spaniard into Sainte Devote on lap 17.
However, it was destined to be a brief 4th for Rossi. While lapping Oliver Webb through Massenet, Rossi’s right rear clipped Webb’s left front, pitching the Fortec racer hard into the barriers.
It brought out the first safety car on the day, temporarily promoting Costa back to 4th place and bringing Korjus into play. Meanwhile, Webb crawled back to the pits to retire.
Just behind Korjus at the flag were Nelson Panciatici (5th, KMP Racing) and Arthur Pic (6th, Tech 1).
Like their Estonian rival before them, neither Panciatici nor Pic could effort a way passed Korjus, frustrating their fading title ambitions further, although the pair had closed to the rear of the Costa / Korjus battle thanks to a little help from Jan Charouz and Anton Nebylitskiy.
Trying for 8th spot on the fifteenth lap, Nebylitskiy unwisely dived down the inside of Charouz at the Grand Hotel hairpin, only to interlock wheels.
As each car wrapped around the other, Nebylitskiy damaged his front right suspension, while Charouz – momentarily airborne by the contact – also permanently hurt his machine. Both retired moments later at the entrance to Portier, bringing out the first safety car period.
Jean-Eric Vergne originally crossed the line 7th, but like Costa, the Carlin man took a ten-second post-race penalty, this time for unnecessarily taking to the pitlane exit at the race start.
It would drop the Frenchman to 12th.
Adrien Tambay became the fourth driver in four rounds to sit in the number 18 Pons Racing machine, although the son of the former Grand Prix driver brought his Renault-powered machine home a respectable 7th.
Tambay had the experienced Chris van der Drift biting at his heels, although the Mofaz driver had little extra to force an error from the inexperienced Tambay. Both came home ahead of Nathanael Berthon who claimed the final points place for ISR.
It was a necessary result for Wickens that brought the Canadian back into the championship hunt. For Vergne, it was a difficult weekend in an arena where victories really count. Just ask Daniel Ricciardo.
2011 Formula Renault 3.5 Rnd of Monaco (Rd 4, 30 laps) Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Daniel Ricciardo ISR 46:10.332 2. Robert Wickens Carlin +0.403 3. Brendon Hartley Gravity-Charouz +11.474 4. Kevin Korjus Tech 1 Racing +15.168 5. Nelson Panciatici KMP Racing +16.069 6. Arthur Pic Tech 1 Racing +16.662 7. Adrien Tambay Pons Racing +22.484 8. Chris van der Drift Mofaz Racing +23.233 9. Albert Costa Epic Racing +23.921 10. Nathanael Berthon ISR +25.360 FL. Daniel Ricciardo ISR 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 Series (Round 4) Drivers’ Championship Pos Driver Points 1. Jean-Eric Vergne 100 2. Robert Wickens 89 3. Alexander Rossi 70 4. Albert Costa 64 5. Kevin Korjus 62 Teams’ Championship Pos Team Points 1. Carlin 189 2. Fortec 94 3. Epic Racing 65 4. Tech 1 Racing 72 5. ISR 59