06 Apr Vandoorne takes maiden win
6th April 2013 – At the opening round of the Formula Renault 3.5 in Monza, rookie Stoffel Vandoorne took a stunning lights to flag victory in his first ever FR3.5 race. Team-mate Oli Webb also had a stunning first race finishing fourth from tenth off the grid.
Compared to the earlier qualifying, race 1 of the Formula Renault 3.5 took place in dry conditions. As the lights went out pole sitter Vandoorne had a sterling start, pulling out a lead and maintaining his first place position. Meanwhile Webb also had a stunning start, moving from tenth on the grid up into sixth. Both drivers kept their pace with Vandoorne fastest man on track on lap three.
As Vandoorne pulled away, a battle was brewing behind. Nikolay Martsenko (Pons Racing) and Will Stevens (P1 Motorsport) battled it out for second before colliding at the first chicane and tumbling to the back of the field. Antonio Félix da Costa (Arden Caterham) took advantage and closed in on Vandoorne, but was soon forced to retire after suffering a puncture.
The battle continued with Kevin Magnussen (DAMS) moving into second and Webb powering into third where he was joined by Christopher Zanella (ISR) who was pushing hard. Up front Vandoorne continued to hold his own in first, despite having wearing tyres caused from his breaks locking up earlier in the race, resulting in the young Belgian FR 3.5 rookie making a dream start to his 2013 campaign and taking the win.
Behind Vandoorne, Webb remained fighting with Zanella for a podium finish. The pair continuously traded positions resulting with Webb finishing a stunning fourth, giving Fortec the highest points score they have ever scored in a FR3.5 race weekend.
Commenting on his maiden win Vandoorne said: “I had a good lead at the start and had built a lead of around 10-seconds in the first few laps. My tyres then locked and stayed like that for the final 20 laps. It caused a lot of vibration so I was concentrating on staying on track and not making any mistakes. To take my first win at the start of the season is amazing, I couldn’t wish for anything better. The team have done a great job, we showed our pace in testing and have now proved it in a competitive situation.”
Webb commented: “It was a great race for me, after a problematic quali with wrong tyre choices. I had a great start and after fighting for a few laps I found myself in fifth then fourth when Da Costa retired. My anti-stall kicked in at turn 1 when going around two cars for what would have been second – so I lost places there, which is a shame. However tenth to fourth is a solid result and I’m really pleased!”