Winner of the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, Nyck de Vries (DAMS) takes his first victory in the season finale of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. On the Circuito de Jerez, the member of the McLaren Young Driver Development Programme demonstrated his opportunist skills in taking the victory from Oliver Rowland (Fortec Motorsports) and Matthieu Vaxiviere (Lotus), both of whom started from row one. With the win the Dutch driver wins rookie of the year honours and finishes third in the general classification. His performance also clinched second place in the team championship for DAMS.
Oliver Rowland was quickest in the final qualifying session of the year with a best lap of 1:45.903, followed by Matthieu Vaxiviere and rookies Nyck de Vries and Egor Orudzhev (Arden Motorsport).
De Vries surprises Rowland and Vaxiviere
When the lights went out, Oliver Rowland held onto the lead. Nyck de Vries and Egor Orudzhev got around Matthieu Vaxiviere, while Dean Stoneman (DAMS) and Alfonso Celis (AVF) retired after making contact on the pit straight. Nikita Zlobin (Pons Racing) went through the gravel, provoking the intervention of the safety car. Meanwhile, Oliver Rowland made a mistake in the Curva Ferrari, allowing Nyck de Vries, Egor Orudzhev and Matthieu Vaxiviere to get by.
De Vries is the boss
The positions were the same at the restart. During the window for the mandatory tyre changes, Matthieu Vaxiviere found his way past Egor Orudzhev, which saw the Russian drop down the order. Oliver Rowland moved up to second place after under cutting the Frenchman when he made his stop a lap earlier. The safety car was back on the track on lap 17 after the off circuit excursion of Roy Nissany (Tech 1 Racing), who was ninth after starting last on the grid.
Nyck de Vries saw his ten second lead erased, but the Dutchman didn’t flinch at the restart. The DAMS driver went on for an easy win ahead of Oliver Rowland, who resisted the pressure from Matthieu Vaxiviere. Tio Ellinas (Strakka Racing) finished just off the podium in fourth place. His team mate Gustav Malja (Strakka Racing) was next after passing Tom Dillmann (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin). Egor Orudzhev, Jazeman Jaafar (Fortec Motorsports), Sean Gelael (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and Nicholas Latifi (Arden Motorsport) completed the top ten.
Nyck de Vries: “This victory is a real relief. We had been really close since the start of the year, but I didn’t attack enough. We were consistent, but we lacked a little bit of performance to reach the top of the order. We finally brought it together this weekend. There was a little pressure to finish third overall and the rookie of the year title. Things turned to our advantage: Matthieu and Oliver made mistakes in the race but not me!”
Oliver Rowland: “I am a little disappointed because I probably made my biggest mistake this season. I will learn from this to come back stronger. Nevertheless, I am really thrilled for Nyck, but also for Matthieu. He was really fast all year and we had to work hard to beat him. I also want to say that I spent five fantastic years with Renault.”
Matthieu Vaxiviere: “Today, I am a little disappointed in my start. Nyck did a perfect job in this race, as did Oliver over the course of the season. When we look at the gap between the champion and myself, I don’t have any regrets because I gave it everything I had and attacked whenever I could. I want to thank everyone in my team for the work they did during the season.”