On Saturday, Oliver Rowland took his third pole position of the season in 1:17.641 ahead of the Lotus duo of Marlon Stockinger and Matthieu Vaxiviere. Dean Stoneman and Roberto Merhi (Pons Racing) completed the top five on the starting grid.
Rowland pulls away at the start
When the lights went out the pole winner held on to the lead and quickly built a gap to the DAMS pair of Dean Stoneman and Nyck de Vries. Matthieu Vaxiviere and Roberto Merhi rounded out the group of five at the sharp end of the order when the safety car was called into service following an accident involving Meindert van Buuren (Pons Racing), Alfonso Celis (AVF) and Sean Gelael (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin).
Rowland seals the deal
On the re-start, Oliver Rowland held on to the lead and progressively increased his lead, but the Englishman had to do it all once again after Roy Nissany (Tech 1 Racing), stopped on the circuit, which resulted in a second safety car intervention. Under threat from Dean Stoneman, the race leader strung together a serious of fastest race laps to go on for an eight-second margin of victory over his compatriot.
Behind the two Englishman it was Nyck de Vries in third, followed by Roberto Merhi. After getting past Matthieu Vaxiviere on lap 13, the Spaniard lost fourth place when he received a 10-second penalty for not respecting the track limits. Nicholas Latifi (Arden Motorsport) inherited the position and was followed by Tom Dillmann (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin), who overtook Matthieu Vaxiviere and Gustav Malja (Strakka Racing). Aurélien Panis (Tech 1 Racing), Tio Ellinas (Strakka Racing) and Jazeman Jaafar (Fortec Motorsports) completed the top ten.
Oliver Rowland : “The car was fantastic today. We chose to run with high-downforce and we knew that could have been a problem if the safety car was deployed despite us having a big advantage in the final sector. Dean was on a similar strategy. I made a mistake on the second re-start, but I was able to hold on to my advantage. Now, everyone knows that high-downforce is preferable and that the start will be the key.”
Dean Stoneman : “I got a great start. After the second safety car, Oliver made a mistake and I tried to pass him at the hairpin. It wasn’t enough and it showed just how tough it is to overtake in the cars we raced.”
Nyck de Vries : “It is good to be back on the podium after we struggled a bit in Budapest. I picked up some places at the start, but in choosing a medium downforce configuration, we lacked a bit of pace compared to our rivals. I am still pleased with this result for the team and myself.”
Provisional general classification * : 1. O. Rowland – 148 points, 2. M. Vaxiviere – 115 points, 3. J. Jaafar – 88, 4. D. Stoneman – 86, 5. T. Dillmann – 65…
*Subject to confirmation of the results following the technical and sporting verifications