Bianchi wins chaotic FR3.5 Race 1 at Silverstone
Jules Bianchi (Tech 1 Racing) emerged unscathed from a rain-affected first World Series by Renault FR3.5 race at Silverstone to win for the second time this season. Jules Bianchi finished ahead of Robin Frijns (Fortec Motorsports) and competition newcomer Nigel Melker (Lotus). Robin Frijns keeps his place at the top of the championship standings at the end of a chaotic race, but he must now keep a close eye on Jules Bianchi, who moves up into second following his victory.
Qualifying took place in wet conditions. Bianchi led for most of the session, but it was Kevin Magnussen (Carlin) who finished with the best time to secure his third pole of the season, ahead of Frijns and Alexander Rossi (Arden Caterham). Bianchi, for his part, ended up qualifying in fourth.
The race started under threatening skies. Magnussen made the best getaway and went into the first turn ahead of Bianchi, who also started well, with Rossi and Frijns third and fourth respectively. A rain shower then came to make the track wet in places for the race leaders, particularly between the old and new pits.
The first to run into trouble was Magnussen, who went off the track and subsequently retired. He was followed a few seconds later by Rossi, Sam Bird (ISR), Nico Müller (International Draco Racing), Marco Sorensen (Lotus), Nicolay Martsenko (BVM Target), Yann Cunha (Pons Racing), Anton Nebylitskiy (Team RFR), and Kevin Korjus (Tech 1 Racing). This forced an appearance from the safety car, during which time the drivers took the opportunity to switch to wet tires. The race directors eventually brought out the red flag, with Will Stevens (Carlin) leading the race at that stage ahead of Bianchi, Frijns, Daniil Move (P1 Motorsport) and Nigel Melker.
Stevens retained the race lead at the restart, but Bianchi put him under pressure immediately. Frijns, meanwhile, found himself in third ahead of Melker, after Move went off. The order at the front changed during the next lap after Stevens lost control and retired from the race. Bianchi took advantage and moved into the lead, with Frijns, Melker, Nick Yelloly (Comtec Racing) and Lucas Foresti (Dams) following behind.
With the surface now completely waterlogged, several more drivers went off the track. This allowed Bianchi to pull away into an unassailable lead from Frijns and Melker. The trio remained in this order to the end of the race, with Yelloly and Antonio Felix da Costa (Arden Caterham) completing the top five. Bianchi’s victory, his second of the season, takes him to within 19 points of championship leader Frijns.
What they said
Jules Bianchi: “I made a very good start by moving from fourth into second. Then things became tricky. Kevin was the first to run into difficulties. When he went off the track, I immediately asked my team to let me come in and switch to wets, and it was the right decision. The rest of the race was every bit as difficult, and the visibility was awful. It’s an important victory in terms of the championship.”
Robin Frijns: “We followed Jules’s every move. Everything he did, we had to do too. So when he went into the pits, we did the same. Towards the end of the race I didn’t take any risks, as there really was a lot of water on the track. So I let Jules go. In a race like that, you have to think of the championship.”
Nigel Melker: “My first race in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series and I’ve got my first podium finish. I can only be happy with that, but it was a difficult race. I struggled in qualifying and I was a bit lucky during the race, I must admit. But there was absolutely no room for mistakes. I’ll be in Hungary and perhaps [at another meeting] after that. I’ll need to speak about it with Lotus.”
Results (Click to enlarge)