Mikhail Aleshin winning in the rain
Russian driver Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin) got off to a perfect start to the season, winning the first race of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, ahead of rookies Daniel Zampieri (Pons Racing) and Daniel Ricciardo (Tech 1 Racing). The rain in Spain fell on Motorland today, and by the time the chequered flag came down there were only nine cars left to cross the finish line…
For their first qualifying session of the season, the Formula Renault 3.5 Series drivers faced wet track conditions. Daniel Zampieri, Mikhail Aleshin and Daniel Ricciardo fought a close fight for pole position. The Australian driver with Tech 1 Racing came out on top, producing the quickest lap just before the session was interrupted when Aleshin came off. So Daniel Ricciardo was the first poleman of the year. He took his place on the front row ahead of Mikhail Aleshin, Daniel Zampieri and Esteban Guerrieri (ISR).
The rain stayed with us for the first race of the season, with all drivers kitted out in the light aero configuration. Starting from second position, Mikhail Aleshin pushed hard and surprised poleman Daniel Ricciardo, making it first into turn 1 ahead of the Australian. Daniel Zampieri kept his third place ranking ahead of Esteban Guerrieri and Stefano Coletti (Comtec Racing).
Daniel Ricciardo wasted no time looking for openings, but Mikhail Aleshin resisted all attempts despite a very slippery track. Then the Tech 1 Racing driver made a blunder and Daniel Zampieri took advantage to grab second place. This let Mikhail Aleshin begin to pull away. Meanwhile, Daniel Zampieri applied himself to holding off the chasing Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Guerrieri and Stefano Coletti. In this compact group, Coletti turned some heads with an overtaking maneuver that got him past Esteban Guerrieri. At the same time, Sten Pentus (Fortec Motorsport) and Julian Leal (International Draco Racing) came unstuck and the safety car made its entry.
At the restart, Mikhail Aleshin was back in command, ahead of Zampieri and Ricciardo. There were a number of incidents, with Esteban Guerrieri coming together with Stefano Coletti and, further back in the peloton, Federico Leo (Pons Racing) and Filip Salaquarda (ISR) also making contact. So the pecking order read Mikhail Aleshin in the lead, followed by Daniel Zampieri, Daniel Ricciardo, Jon Lancaster (Fortec Motorsport) and Nelson Panciatici (Junior Lotus Racing). In sixth place, Jake Rosenzweig (Carlin) contained a fight-back from Albert Costa (Epsilon Euskadi), who had started the race in 21st place. The Spanish driver, in spite of a still painful right hand, got the better of the American.
The race was losing cars right, left and centre, with a coming together involving Jan Charouz (P1 Motorsport), Anton Nebylitskyi (KMP Racing), Nathanaël Berthon (International Draco Racing) and Victor Garcia (KMP Racing). Meanwhile in the leading group, Nelson Panciatici overtook Jon Lancaster to move up to fourth place, whereas Albert Costa finished his race in the gravel trap. The dog-fight between Panciatici and Lancaster went down to the last lap, when the British driver got the better of the Junior Lotus Racing driver.
Despite the difficult race conditions that prevailed today, Mikhail Aleshin succeeded in driving to victory ahead of Daniel Zampieri and Daniel Ricciardo. The Russian claimed the second win of his career in Formula Renault 3.5 Series.
Mikhail Aleshin: “I got off to a very good start and that meant I benefitted from better visibility that the others. The track was really very dicey. It was practically impossible to keep the car on the track for the last ten laps. I hadn’t won a race for Carlin since 2007. It’s just perfect to start off the season this way.”
Daniel Zampieri: “It was my first race in the discipline it’s perfect to get on the podium. I’m part of the Ferrari Driver Academy, and they demand results. I’m pleased to be able to show from the off that they can count on me.”
Daniel Ricciardo: “When you’re on pole, you obviously want to win the race, but in the end a podium finish itself is a good result in these conditions, and it could easily be important later in the season. I thought I’d started well, but Mikhail’s start was better. From then on, visibility behind him was practically zero. So I'm happy with this result.”
Official Renault Sport Press Release