Robert WickensRobert Wickens and Jean-Eric Vergne dominated the first Formula Renault 3.5 race of the weekend today, around the challenging Spa-Francorchamps circuit. The Carlin duo finished a full 17 seconds ahead of their nearest rival to take a one-two for the reining champions. Today’s result puts Carlin at the top of the teams’ championship and elevates Wickens to the top of the drivers’ championship.

Having qualified first and third this morning, both Wickens and Vergne had their first race win of the season in their sights as they lined up on the grid for race one this morning. Having learnt from a disappointing start last time out in Motorland, Wickens made the perfect getaway to lead the field into the first corner, while team mate Vergne jumped second placed man Albert Costa off the line to snatch second. The order was soon to change however, when Vergne lost out behind an early braking Wickens which allowed Costa back into second.

The three were line astern in the run up Eau Rouge and into Les Coombes, as Costa slip streamed Wickens to take the lead. The Epic Racing driver locked up at the next corner however and ran wide, allowing Wickens and Vergne back through into first and second.

From then on the Carlin duo were in a race of their own, as they began to pull away from the field. Wickens and Vergne matched each other lap for lap – with the gap remaining constant at round one to one and half seconds. As the two leaders continued to push each other, the gap to third man Costa began to grow, and by the chequered flag the duo were 17 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.

Reflecting on his win, Wickens said, “I made a good start, and made it around the first corner this time! I knew it was going to be tough though and that I would be in trouble on the back straight and sure enough Costa got past me. But I kept him under pressure and he out braked himself and I was able to take the lead back. From then on I pushed really hard; I was trying to pull away from Jev to be honest but we were putting in the same lap times the entire time. It’s a great result for the team though, we’re leading the teams’ championship and I’m at the top of the drivers’ championship as well.”

Team mate and second placed man Vergne added, “It was a really good race. At the beginning I was right behind Robert but I lost all my downforce through sector two and couldn’t stay close so I decided to drop back a bit and have another attack. I pushed hard again and caught him quickly, but again I just couldn’t get up to him in the second sector. It was a good result for us though, I had a really good car throughout the race; we just need learn from today and push more for tomorrow, because for sure everyone else will be trying to catch us.”

A delighted Trevor Carlin added, “I’m delighted with the team and the drivers today. Everyone has done a fantastic job and it’s good to see all of the team’s work come together this afternoon. It was great to see Robert Wickens’ engineer Paul Wallace on the podium to collect the teams’ trophy today, which is a richly deserved reward for all the hard work he has put into our Formula Renault 3.5 team. We need to keep pushing though and try and replicate this result tomorrow.”