Korjus finds the winning formula again in Renault Series race
Kevin Korjus (Tech 1 Racing) has recorded his third Formula Renault 3.5 Series victory of the season thanks to a bold attacking strategy. Korjus started all the way back in 13th, and the 18-year-old rookie showed experience beyond his years to work through the field and win the race. Carlin’s Robert Wickens finished second to ensure that he remains top of the championship at the season’s mid-point. The Canadian’s reward is a place behind the wheel of Lotus Renault GP’s R30 in a Formula One demonstration in Budapest.
It was a wet start to the day in qualifying this morning, but the rain did not dampen Robert Wickens’ spirits as he scored his fourth pole of the year. In the last lap of qualifying, Brendon Hartley (Gravity-Charouz) removed Carlin’s Jean-Eric Vergne from the front row of the grid. French driver Vergne, as a result, started the race on the second row alongside Epic Racing’s Albert Costa.
The sky continued to look threatening and parts of the track were still damp, so the drivers took to the track on slicks with a compulsory pit to change tires during the race. Wickens made a perfect start to the race, with Hartley holding firm in second. Meanwhile, Vergne got away in third and Daniel Ricciardo passed Costa to move up into fourth. It was a first lap to forget for Nathanael Berthon (ISR) and Alexander Rossi (Fortec Motorsports), however, as the pair were forced to retire following a collision.
Wickens lapped fastest to build a lead over Brendon Hartley, but the Gravity-Charouz man was never far off the pace. The front pair took advantage of a tussle between Vergne, Ricciardo and Costa to gradually extend the gap on the chasing pack. Despite several efforts from Hartley to get the better of Wickens, the race order remained unchanged until the compulsory round of pit stops.
A collision between Anton Nebylitskiy (KMP Racing) and Jake Rosenzweig (Mofaz Racing) on lap nine forced the introduction of the safety, and this served to tighten things up at the head of the field. Wickens retained first place at the restart, but it was by and large a case of back to square one. The race leaders delayed their pit stops for as long as possible in order to stretch their advantage over Korjus and Fairuz Fauzy (Mofaz Racing), who both went in just before the arrival of the safety car.
Hartley and Vergne were next to make their detour to the pits, and the pair rejoined the race behind Korjus and Fauzy. Vergne then seized on a mistake by Hartley and overtook the New Zealander. Wickens, Ricciardo and the rest of the field soon followed the pair’s lead and made their way into the pits a lap later. With all of the stops now complete, Korjus and Fauzy’s bold strategy appeared to have paid off. With a bit of good fortune thrown in along the way, the pair found themselves out in front ahead of Wickens, Vergne, Ricciardo and Costa.
The rain’s return for the last lap made for an interesting finale, but Korjus kept his cool and took the checkered flag for his third win of the season. Wickens finally got the better of Fauzy in the closing stages to maintain his lead at the top of the championship standings.