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Formula Renault 3.5

António Félix da Costa (Arden Caterham) won the second race of the weekend at Monza to secure his fifth victory in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. The Portuguese finished ahead of Kevin Magnussen (Dams) and Stoffel Vandoorne (Fortec Motorsports) at the end of a breathless race, one that hints at a hard-fought season ahead. Vandoorne leaves Italy with the championship lead, with Magnussen and da Costa second and third respectively.

It was a weekend of firsts at the Autodrome Nazionale Monza. After Stoffel Vandoorne stole the headlines yesterday, this morning it was António Félix da Costa's turn to claim his maiden FR 3.5 Series pole position, and the first for his team, Arden Caterham. Stoffel Vandoorne et Kevin Magnussen qualified behind the Portuguese in second and third respectively.

When the lights went out, António Félix da Costa hesitated slightly, allowing Belgium's Stoffel Vandoorne to pass and head into the first chicane as the race leader. But in trying to defend his position, Vandoorne cut the chicane and had to allow rival da Costa to retake the lead.

Behind the leaders, Kevin Magnussen fought to defend third place from Nico Müller (International Draco Racing). The Dane then pounced on a mistake by Vandoorne to move up into second, before taking the lead after da Costa went wide and brushed the grass.

At the end of lap two, 604 milliseconds was all that separated the front four. There was no let-up in the intensity until the chequered flag, and for 29 laps there was never more than one second between da Costa and Magnussen. Stoffel Vandoorne lost ground on the front pair and had to fend off Arthur Pic, who had worked his way up from 16th on the grid to finish fourth. Nico Müller (International Draco Racing), Norman Nato (Dams), Pietro Fantin (Arden Caterham), Christopher Zanella (ISR), Oliver Webb (Fortec Motorsports) and Mihai Marinescu (Zeta Corse) all finished in the top ten.

The result ensures that Stoffel Vandoorne retains the championship lead with 40 points, ahead of Kevin Magnussen, 36 points, and António Félix da Costa, 25.

What they said

António Félix da Costa: "We were all pushing it to the limit on the first two laps. After that, it was like driving 30 qualifying laps. I tried to preserve my tyres, but I had to push hard to stay ahead of Kevin [Magnussen]. I'm very pleased with this victory after the disappointment of yesterday's race."

Kevin Magnussen: "These two podium finishes relieve some pressure for the rest of the season. The first few kilometres were amazing! But unfortunately they didn't go in my favour. I had to put pressure on António [Félix da Costa], but I couldn't afford any mistakes because Stoffel [Vandoorne] would have pounced. I enjoyed this race hugely from start to finish."

Stoffel Vandoorne: "I made a mistake on turn one. It cost me dearly as I ended up losing contact with the leading pair. Still, this podium finish is a great follow-up to yesterday's victory, and I'm very happy to be at the top of the championship."

Official Renault Sport Press Release.

Posted: 07 April 2013
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