After overnight tub change, British driver takes third podium of 2014 with second place in round seven as Matias Laine completes strong weekend in points
Second place during round seven of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium this afternoon, Sunday, 1stJune, enabled Strakka Racing’s Will Stevens to remain firmly in touch with the coveted championship top three. The result followed great teamwork overnight by the Strakka Racing team, changing the tub of Stevens’ car in just five hours.
The switch reaped immediate dividends. After a much improved qualifying run ahead of the weekend’s second race, the Caterham Racing Academy driver posted the third fastest time – just 0.5 seconds shy of pole.
Holding third during the early running, Stevens then made his mandatory pit-stop just before mid-distance and re-emerged in seventh place. Climbing back into third within the space of a few laps as others pitted, Stevens then grabbed second on lap 13.
Remaining there to the finish on lap 21, he took the flag almost three seconds clear of compatriot Oliver Rowland to keep his championship hopes on course.
“The changes we made overnight were a lot better, we knew the race would be good,” said Stevens, “The pace at the start wasn’t great because of the older tyres, but the pit-stop was good and better rear tyres then meant the pace at the end helped us hold on. Overall, it’s been a much better result today.”
Finland’s Matias Laine, starting the race in eighth position after qualifying less than 0.3 seconds shy of Stevens’ best, made another outstanding launch to carve his way into the top four.
Although being re-passed for fifth on lap two, the Strakka Racing driver moved back into fourth when his team-mate pitted before then taking his own stop at the end of lap 11.
Despite encountering difficulties getting away from his pit-box, Laine returned to the track in eighth place and sensationally posted the fastest lap of the race – a time of 2m02.129 seconds – on lap 18 on his way to an eventual seventh place result.
“My start was good but after some laps the DRS stopped working, then, after the pit-stop, I stalled which was maybe something to do with the pressure drop we had,”, he commented, “After the stop I was pushing and trying really hard to recover, so I’m pleased to get the fastest lap and now really looking forward to Moscow.”
Stevens concludes the Spa weekend fourth in the championship on 68 points, just six shy of the top three, with Laine in 14thposition on 19 points. In the team standings, Strakka Racing holds fourth position on 87 points.
Next on the Formula Renault 3.5 Series schedule is a visit to Moscow Raceway in Russia over the weekend 28th/29thJune.