World Series by Wickens
Photo. Gilles Levent/DPPI
Robert Wickens, the talented Toronto driver, is flying high this season in Formula Renault 3.5 Series, also known as World Series by Renault. Round seven took place over the weekend at Silverstone to a packed house; thanks to British propensity for anything motorsports colliding with a rare commodity in today’s (racing) world……
Free tickets can be downloaded from the series website and the weekend festivities also include support races featuring Renault Megane and Clio championships; and a Renault road-show of their vintage race and rally cars.
The main show of domination this weekend was provided by the 22-year old Canadian, who scored a perfect weekend despite arriving late for Sunday’s qualifying after getting stuck in traffic. The race crowd was estimated to be over 100,000.
In qualifying for the first race of the weekend on Saturday, Wickens grabbed his fifth pole of the season with a time of 1m 45.015s and stated his goal, “My aim this weekend is to retake the championship lead.”
Californian Alexander Rossi made it an all-North American front row by qualifying second. The Nevada City native was happy with his performance and was quoted on World Series by Renault website saying; “I like this circuit, the weather’s fine and there are a lot of people so everything’s sunshine and roses!”
It was an added pleasant surprise for pole-sitter Wickens when championship leader and Carlin teammate, Jean-Eric Verge, was unable to get away for the formation lap and had to start from the pit lane. Wickens, after making a perfect start, along with Rossi and Daniel Ricciardo pulled away from the rest of the field.
Rossi, driving for Fortec Motorsports, was relentless in his pursuit of Wickens. The hunter, however, became the hunted late in the race when Ricciardo moved ahead to grab second in his ISR Team machine. The Aussie then began his own pursuit of Wickens but ran out of time despite setting the fastest lap of the race.
For Wickens it was win number three of the season and mission accomplished. Main rival Vergne put on a spirited drive but finished outside the points in 13th place, handing championship lead to his teammate.
The importance of which was not lost on Wickens; “It’s an important victory in terms of the rest of the championship. And it feels good.”
Sunday. Double the pleasure
Race winner from Saturday was missing from the first 15 minutes of qualifying on Sunday morning for the second race.
Wickens, “I didn’t expect so much traffic on the roads this morning. I was on time, but it took me an hour to do the final kilometers to the circuit. So I began practice with a strange feeling. It all turned out okay as Carlin again gave me a perfect car. All the ingredients are present for another good race!”
The ingredients were cooking in qualifying also; the new championship leader again set the fastest time and this time shared the front row with his teammate Vergne. Czech team ISR filled the second row with Frenchman Nathanaël Berthon and Ricciardo.
Wickens’ second victory of the weekend was secured over Rossi, the American racer charged up to second place from sixth on the grid only to run into post-race turbulence. Ricciardo was third. Vergne’s fifth place finish enabled Carlin Motorsports to clinch their first teams’ championship in the series.
Wickens now leads the championship with 198 points; Vergne is second on 164 points; and Ricciardo, despite missing some events due to F1 commitments, is third with 125 points.
Photo. World Series by Renault Media
Both Fortec drivers, second place finisher Rossi and Cesar Ramos, were later disqualified for wheel nut infringement. The Daventry-based English team led by Richard Dutton is appealing.
Autosport.com is reporting that a Renault Sport spokesman said that the wheel nuts had been modified to improve the speed of the pit stops.
The series travels to south of France for the penultimate round at Circuit Paul Ricard on September 17-18. Barcelona will host the season finale, October 8-9.
— Nasir Hameed
Greetings and Northants regards.