“FR3.5: Sainz Jr dominates race one in Motorland Aragon”

Sainz Jr (1) edges Martsenko to lead into turn one. © WSR (Florent Gooden / DPPI).
Sainz Jr (1) edges Martsenko to lead into turn one. © WSR (Florent Gooden / DPPI).

DAMS’ and Red Bull junior driver Carlos Sainz Jr dominated the opening race of the second Formula Renault 3.5 round at Motorland Aragon.

The Spaniard led from pole, after fending off an aggressive Nikolay Martsenko (Comtec) from the line, but was unchallenged thereafter.

In clear air, Sainz Jr extended a gap almost every lap around, eventually securing a lead of 14.3s come the end of 25 laps.

Such was Sainz Jr’s dominance; the 19-year-old had pulled a gap of more than 30 seconds beyond those outside the top four.
Yet despite his margin of victory, Sainz Jr was candid about how he almost lost it into turn one. “After a delicate start, where I honestly thought I would lose a few spots, I didn’t expect the gap to increase so quickly, in as much as qualifying was very close.”

Martsenko not only held on to 2nd place, but even pulled more than ten seconds over his chasing rivals to score his first podium in the category – something the Russian put down to his decision to run a higher downforce setting than those around him.
“My good start was probably due to the fact that I was the only car at the front of the grid that had a high-downforce configuration,” said Martsenko. “I managed to overtake Oliver [Rowland] before having a good battle with Carlos at the first corner. Then, he pulled away, so I made the most of it to assure this first podium finish.”

A tricky start and missed apex in turn one by Fortec’s Rowland saw him drop from the front row to 4th; however the Racing Steps Foundation driver took 3rd back when he passed Zoel Amberg (AVF) on lap 13; however by then Martsenko was lost in the distance.
The Briton noted: “My start was a little difficult, in as much as I had already messed up at Monza. The race pace was good, but it is so hard to overtake on this track.”

As Rowland moved up to the podium place, Lotus’ Marlon Stockinger took advantage to claim 4th, relegating Amberg to 5th, but despite his best efforts, the Filipino was unable to take Rowland in the final laps. Over the line, Rowland held Stockinger at bay by a mere two-tenths.

Amberg, meanwhile, continued to fall backwards toward Robert Merhi (Zeta Corse) and Matthieu Vaxivière (Lotus), but neither could push beyond Amberg. While 7th was not necessarily an ideal result for Vaxivière, the Frenchman was pleased having started 13th on the grid.
Sergey Sirotkin (Fortec) took 8th place ahead of the Arden of Pierre Gasly – the latter of whom drove the race with a damaged nosecone – and Pietro Fantin closed out the top ten for Draco Racing.

A delighted race one podium. © WSR (Jean Michel Le Meur / DPPI)
A delighted race one podium. © WSR (Jean Michel Le Meur / DPPI)
2014 Formula Renault 3.5 Series (Rd 2, Race 1)
Pos Driver                Team           Time/Gap
 1. Carlos Sainz Jr.      DAMS         43m14.984s (25 laps)
 2. Nikolay Martsenko     Comtec         +14.335s
 3. Oliver Rowland        Fortec         +24.291s
 4. Marlon Stockinger     Lotus          +24.488s
 5. Zoel Amberg           AVF            +33.825s
 6. Roberto Merhi         Zeta Corse     +34.652s
 7. Matthieu Vaxiviere    Lotus          +34.942s
 8. Sergey Sirotkin       Fortec         +37.387s
 9. Pierre Gasly          Arden          +38.622s
10. Pietro Fantin         Draco          +42.885s
11. Norman Nato           DAMS           +43.309s
12. Will Stevens          Strakka        +46.232s
13. Jazeman Jaafar        ISR            +48.853s
14. Meindert van Buuren   Pons           +49.922s
15. Marco Sorensen        Tech 1         +51.361s
16. Luca Ghiotto          Draco          +54.250s
17. Roman Mavlanov        Zeta Corse     +57.127s
18. Beitske Visser        AVF            +59.760s
19. Matias Laine          Strakka      +1m05.335s
     Oliver Webb           Pons          +24 laps
     William Buller        Arden         +24 laps

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