14 Sep Rowland takes a podium finish at the Hungaroring
The Formula Renault 3.5 Series travelled to the Hungaroring last weekend for their seventh event of the season. Fortec’s Oliver Rowland took his second pole of the season for race one, going on to finish on the podium in third, with team-mate Sergey Sirotkin crossing the line thirteenth. Race two saw the British driver take another top five finish whilst Sirotkin suffered from some bad luck.
Rowland secured his second pole of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series season in Saturday’s qualifying session. The British driver soon headed the grid, taking charge in the early stages.
The session was briefly interrupted when SMP Racing supported Sirotkin’s car came to halt on the track and had to be removed. On the restart Rowland continued to trade blows but consistently improved on his times.
The drivers came out on new tyres for the final ten minutes, Rowland had soon warmed up and snagged pole with a time of 1:30.203 to take the honors.
Race one took place Saturday afternoon and a shower before the start of the race soaked the track surface. When the lights went out, Rowland made a good getaway and held on to the lead ahead of Roberto Merhi (Zeta Corse)
Rowland quickly pulled away from the rest of the field, with just Merhi on his tail. The duo were soon in a spectacular battle, with Rowland keeping his defense up after several unsuccessful attempts were made from Merhi to take the lead. Just as it looked like Rowland had kept his rival at bay, he went wide into the first corner on lap seven seeing Merhi slip passed.
Racing Steps Foundation supported Rowland fought on but bad luck was to strike when second placed Pierre Gasly (Arden Motorsport) overtook pole man Rowland in the final corner of the race. Fortec team-mate Sirotkin finished 14th.
Qualifying for race two took place on Sunday morning in bright conditions. Rowland once again put in some impressive lap times, seeing the British driver line up in fourth for the start of the second race. Team-mate Sirotkin also had a good session, constantly improving his times to qualify thirteenth.
When the lights went out, Rowland made a good start and was battling to get up into the top three. Meanwhile mid pack, Sirotkin missed his breaking point at the first corner, seeing an accident involving two other cars and their retirement from the race.
Following the intervention of a safety car Rowland continued to push the front runners. After the mandatory pit-stops Rowland was running third when he was overtaken on lap 13, eventually crossing the line in fourth.
Commenting on the weekend and his second pole position Rowland said: “To get pole wasn’t easy and I had to attack as much as I could, but it was a good result and exactly what we needed. It was great to be on the podium and I’m already working toward an even better result at the next round.”
Sirotkin said: “The entire weekend was really bad for me, starting from the first turn of free practice. I am really frustrated but we will now work hard to find out what was wrong to properly prepare next race, which will be in Paul Ricard in a very short time.”