CarlinThe 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 Series enters the final stages this weekend as the teams and drivers head to Paul Ricard for the penultimate round of the season. Four weeks ago at Silverstone Carlin secured the 2011 Teams’ championship, as championship leader Robert Wickens took away two pole positions and wins during the weekend. Hot on his heels however is team mate Jean-Eric Vergne who is lying second in the championship standings.

The 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 season has seen team mates Wickens and Vergne battle at the front at almost every round and thanks to their great results this season Carlin were able to clinch the Teams’ title a full two rounds early.

With the teams’ title now secure, the attention turns to the coveted Drivers’ championship. Both Wickens and Vergne are in with a shout of winning the title this year as battle recommences at the French Circuit – with Wickens 34 points ahead of Vergne following his dominant performance at Silverstone, and Vergne’s misfortune.

The Paul Ricard circuit is new to the Formula Renault 3.5 championship, it has previously played host to the Formula One French Grand Prix. Although this track is no longer on the Formula One calendar it plays host to a variety of other racing series. It is renowned for its long Mistral straight and brightly coloured run-off areas.

Despite having a break away from the FR3.5 cars, both Vergne and Wickens have been busy in their capacities as F1 reserve and test drivers. Vergne has been busy in the Red Bull simulator, helping the current F1 champions in their continued development of the RB7. Team mate Wickens meanwhile made his debut at the wheel of Marussia Virgin Racing’s MVR-02 Formula One car on Tuesday when he tested for the team at Vairano. The young Canadian completed a straight-line testing programme for the outfit at the Italian circuit.

Despite getting his first taste of F1 machinery, Wickens remains completely focused on his FR3.5 campaign. “I’m feeling pretty good about this weekend. Our pre-season test at Paul Ricard went really well so I’m heading there feeling confident, as we have at every race this year.

Asked if he was yet focusing on the title, Wickens added, “I’ve been thinking about the title since the first race at Motorland. At the end of the day that’s the goal that everyone’s chasing. I’m in a good position after Silverstone, and we’re going to approach this weekend with the same attitude – to take away maximum points.”

Wickens will have a fight on his hands however, as team mate Vergne is also aiming for a good result at his home race. The Frenchman said, “I’m still feeling confident. My approach has changed though. After a difficult weekend at Silverstone, I’ve got nothing to lose anymore. We know we’ve got the pace, the team is good, the car is good – the front row should be the aim in qualifying. The bad luck that happened to me in Silverstone could easily happen to anyone – including Robert – in Paul Ricard so I will keep pushing hard. I’m prepared to take some risks now. It’s my home race and it would be fantastic to hear the La Marseillaise played on the podium.”