Red Bull junior driver Carlos Sainz Jr took a dominant Formula Renault 3.5 victory at Monza this afternoon.
From pole, the Spaniard shot into an unassailable lead, managing to increase his gap over runner-up Marlon Stockinger in all but two of the 27 tours.
Fortec Motorsport’s Sergey Sirotkin made a fantastic start from 6th place to come home 3rd, securing his first podium of the season.
While stellar drives by the top three, the victory was never in doubt. At times, Sainz Jr made the task look easy, as he amassed a 10.8s lead over the course of the race.
Off the line, the 19-year-old looked assured as he made an unflustered start, easing his way through the Rettifilo chicane, while Stockinger fought off a charging Sirotkin and Luca Ghiotto.
Ahead of Sirotkin and Ghiotto was a slow starting Will Buller, followed Jazeman Jaafar who was forced to take to the run off area rather than navigate the Rettifilo.
Safe out in front, Sainz Jr took great care of his machinery to build a careful gap over his battling rivals. After only four laps, the DAMS racer was already 3.3s ahead and drawing further away with almost every tour.
Come the one-third mark, Sainz Jr had added just over one second to his lead and by lap 18; he was 6.2s down the road from Stockinger. Despite his already dominant lead, Sainz Jr kept his foot down and extended the gap to the field to take a win that many felt he could have had yesterday.
Stockinger did much to hold Sirotkin at bay; however as the Russian continued to push his Lotus rival hard, his pace began to falter slightly in the closing stages.
While Sirotkin remained reasonably close, the immediate pressure had been released from Stockinger’s shoulders, allowing the Filipino to assume a safe[r] 2nd ahead of the Fortec. With no threat from Sirotkin’s rear and no sign of mistakes in the offing, the podium was certain long before the end.
Ghiotto took top rookie honours in race two, thanks mostly to a fantastic start. The Spaniard launched away from 8th on the grid to 4th by turn one, while fellow rookie Pierre Gasly made an equally good start to jump from 9th to 5th.
The pair would not be separated by much for the duration of the event; however Gasly rarely appeared close enough to seriously press Ghiotto for position.
Next was the hard charging Nikolay Martsenko. From 12th place, the wily Russian picked up one spot from the line, before taking Zoel Amberg on lap two.
Thereafter, Martsenko found himself playing a rearguard attack formation behind a feisty Buller / Will Stevens battle.
Where Buller and Stevens pressed and pushed hard, Martsenko preferred to bide his time, with the Comtec Racing man taking both drivers as they fought over 8th and 9th.
Martsenko reeled Pietro Fantin in, eventually forcing his way into 7th position on lap 21, before doing the exact same to Jazeman Jaafar four laps later. Jaafar and Fantin would settle for 7th and 8th respectively.
Meanwhile, the Buller / Stevens battle would come to an end three laps later, when Stevens’ move around the outside of the Rettifilo failed, as Buller refused to give up ground.
Stuck in the gravel on the outside of the chicane, Stevens was out on the spot, while a damaged Buller spent the next few laps falling backward…
Roberto Merhi added a 9th place to his podium finish from yesterday, while Oliver Rowland drove excellently to charge his way to 10th spot and a point after being as low as 20th after lap one.
Sainz Jr leaves the opening round of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series as joint-leader in the points standings. With a win each, Sainz Jr and Stevens both sit on 25 points, while Gasly also enjoys 25 points, albeit without a victory.
The next round is at a very different track in North Eastern Spain in two weeks time, as the World Series by Renault package débuts for 2014 at the Motorland Aragon circuit.
Formula Renault 3.5 (Rd 1, Race 2, Monza) Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Carlos Sainz Jr DAMS 43:10.774s (27 laps) 2. Marlon Stockinger Lotus +10.835s 3. Sergey Sirotkin Fortec +12.524s 4. Luca Ghiotto Draco +19.137s 5. Pierre Gasly Arden +20.178s 6. Jazeman Jaafar ISR +28.477s 7. Nikolay Martsenko Comtec Racing +30.014s 8. Pietro Fantin Draco +33.845s 9. Robert Merhi Zeta Corse +36.393s 10. Oliver Rowland Fortec +36.959s 11. Norman Nato DAMS +41.465s 12. Matias Laine Strakka +53.086s 13. Zoel Amberg AV Formula +54.792s 14. Oliver Webb Zeta Corse +59.383s 15. Roman Mavlanov Zeta Corse +1m20.362s 16. Matthieu Vaxiviere Lotus +1m22.067s 17. Beitske Visser AV Formula +1m29.307s Retirements: William Buller Arden +11 laps Will Stevens Strakka +17 laps Marco Sorensen Tech 1 +18 laps Meindert van Buuren Pons Racing +20 laps