The Formula Renault 3.5 series arrives this weekend at the Circuit de Catalunya for the final race of the 2013 season, and two drivers still have a mathematical chance of clinching their maiden championship – Danish driver Kevin Magnussen (driving for DAMS) and Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne (Fortec Motorsports).
The reality is it is Kevin Magnusson’s championship to lose. He sits comfortably on top of the standings on 224 points, 43 points clear of Vandoorne. Although the Fortec driver has won four races to Magnussen’s three, the Dane’s consistency has seen him lead and stretch away in the championship. With 50 points on offer in Spain, only a disastrous weekend for Magnussen and a perfect weekend for Vandoorne will stop Magnussen winning the championship.
Whilst Magnussen and Vandoorne are the only championship contenders, other positions up and down the field are still up for grabs. Portuguese driver Antonio Felix da Costa (Arden Caterham) currently sits third in the championship on 170 points, only eleven points behind Vandoorne and could pip the Belgian driver to second. The battle for fourth place is even tighter, with 1 point separating Dutch driver Nigel Melker (Tech 1 Racing) and Nico Muller (International Draco Racing), while Will Stevens (P1 by Strakka Racing) sits a further 15 behind, and Marco Sorensen (Lotus) another 8 behind Stevens.
The battle in the team championship is still ongoing also, though DAMS are well ahead in this one too. Both DAMS and Fortec Motorsports have primarily relied on their lead drivers for the majority of their points in 2013, and therefore it see’s Magnussen’s DAMS team 41 points clear of Vandoorne’s Fortec team. Norman Nato (DAMS) has scored 23 of his teams 247, whilst Oliver Webb has scored 25 of his teams 206! International Draco Racing, Arden Caterham and Tech 1 Racing are in the battle for third position going into the finale, with the momentum with Draco with both Muller and teammate Andre Negrao showing impressive speed over the last few events. Felix da Costa will be up their too challenging for big points and possibly wins, but teammate Pietro Fantin hasn’t really shown enough speed to challenge for regular points. Tech 1 are the outsiders with Melker scoring most of their points this season, Mikhail Aleshin scoring 33 points of the teams 163 points.
Kevin Magnussen has been the most consistent driver in the 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 series and will thoroughly deserve the championship if it indeed comes his way. However Stoffel Vandoorne can take great pride in what he has achieved in his maiden season in the series, having won the Formula Renault 2.0 crown just twelve months ago. Both Magnussen and Vandoorne already have McLaren junior contracts under their belt and will be in Formula 1 sooner rather than later. The same can be said for Felix da Costa, who is a Red Bull Racing junior driver.
It has been a cracking season for the Formula Renault 3.5 series, and I have no doubt the season finale will be just as thrilling.
Tagged: Antonio Felix da Costa, Arden Caterham, Catalunya, DAMS, Formula Renault 3.5, Fortec Motorsport, International Draco Racing, Kevin Magnussen, Marco Sorensen, Nico Muller, Nigel Melker, Stoffel Vandoorne, Will Stevens