Stoffel Vandoorne successfully converted his pole position into a win at the Moscow Raceway in Russia to secure his third victory of the season. Antonio Felix da Costa and Nigel Melker joined the Belgian on the podium.
Crucially for the championship, current leader, Kevin Magnussen, failed to finish in the points allowing Vandoorne to begin to close the 29 point deficit to the Dane.
Stoffel Vandoorne’s pole position, his second of this year, was largely untroubled. Felix da Costa was an ever looming presence, qualifying one position behind, in second. Kevin Magnussen initially placed his DAMS in third until the stewards concluded that he had blocked two opponents on track. This pushed the Dane back to 17th and created an additional challenge for the championship leader.
In an unusual moment, Sergey Sirotkin stalled at the end of the formation lap.
Vandoorne was joined by Felix da Costa as the two broke away from the chasing pack.The real battle for positions occurred lower down the grid. A thrilling fight ensued between Nigel Melker, Will Stevens and William Buller, who made his debut in 2013 with Zeta Corse. Replacing Red Bull Junior, Carlos Sainz Jr, Buller was overtaken by the charging duo on lap seven.
Mikhail Aleshin successfully defended 18th place from the Comtec pairing of Daniil Move and Lucas Foresti. Foresti collided with Nikolay Martsenko one lap later, fortunately both drivers were unharmed.
Behind the podium finishers, Will Stevens, Williams Buller, André Negrăo and Nico Müller (both competing for Draco International) took the chequered flag. Marlon Stockinger, Vandoorne’s team mate, Oliver Webb and Marco Sorensen completed the points finishers.
For the first time this year, Kevin Magnussen failed to finish in the points and will need to rely on tomorrow’s race if he is maintain a healthy championship lead. Only four points now separate the two.
Vandoorne concedes that Friday testing did not go the team’s way but his “confidence came back in qualifying” allowing him “to capitalise on his lead”. Prior to Russia, Vandoorne spoke exclusively to ‘stoodonthepodium’, revealing that “the one who makes fewer mistakes will win the most points”.
Renault Sport have highlights of the race for those who missed it. Click here to see more.
I would like to end this race report by saying tribute to Allan Simonsen who was involved in a fatal crash in Le Mans.