F1 hopefuls battle for Formula Renault 3.5 title

Why You Should Watch...

With just two races remaining three drivers could still claim the 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 title.

For Jules Bianchi, Robin Frijns and Sam Bird this weekend’s World Series by Renault double-header at the Circuit de Catalunya will be decisive.

Jules Bianchi

Jules Bianchi, Renault, 2012179 points, three wins

Tech 1 driver Jules Bianchi comes into the weekend with a slender points advantage following a superb drive in changeable conditions at Paul Ricard.

For the Force India reserve driver 2012 has been a make-or-break year, and for many anything less than the title would spell failure.

Though not spectacular Bianchi has got steadily faster over the course of the season and has been racking up the results. Wet weather forecast for this weekend???s races this could aid Bianchi’s challenge.

“The championship is really important and I need to show people that I am ready for F1,” says Bianchi. “You have to be competitive, you have to be consistent and to do things people don’t expect you to do – this makes a fantastic racer.”

Robin Frijns

Robin Frijns, Renault, 2012174 points, three wins

Fortec’s Robin Frijns has been the star of the season. He’s made the leap from the 2.0L Eurocup look easy and could be about to score championship victories on the World Series by Renault circus in successive seasons.

Unlike so many young drivers Frijns is not signed to a development scheme but has instead made his own career.

In many respects Frijns doesn’t need to claim the title this weekend as he has shown enough this season that anything less than an F1 race seat next year would be a travesty.

“He beats himself up if he doesn’t win,” says Fortec boss Richard Dutton. “He’s incredibly competitive he pushes all the time and he’s always looking for a bit extra. He’s not happy unless he’s on pole and and he’s never happy unless he wins.”

Frijns says he’s “just a rookie I do the best I can. I do my best and work with the team very hard and make the best of it”

Sam Bird

Sam Bird, Renault, 2012155 points, two wins

Sam Bird has an outside shot at the title but will need to rely on the misfortune of others, and a major upturn in form. The glory of the Monaco victory seems a long time ago now and Bird really needs to deliver this week to maintain career momentum.

A criticism throughout his career has been that Bird can over-think his racing. A poor weekend in Moscow before the summer break seems to have derailed his season. However on his day he is arguably quickest driver in the field. This weekend needs to be his day.

Sam Bird: “I love my job and I’m dedicated to what I do,” says Bird. “I’ve wanted it for so long. I’ve had to fight for my position – there’s been ups and down but I have bounce-back-ability and we’re still standing so why not me?”

Two-litre title up for grabs too

The 2.0L Eurocup is just as keenly fought as its bigger brother and this too will go down to the wire.

Stoffel Vandoorne holds a slender advantage over Daniil Kvyat and provided the Belgian maintains his consistent form from the year to date he should claim the spoils. That said Kvyat has been devastatingly quick and double win for him would guarantee the title.

Formula Renault 3.5 on ESPN

Throughout the year ESPN has been providing full coverage of both championships and are pulling out all the stops for the final weekend of action.

Both 3.5L races will have full coverage, with race one being shown at 3pm on Saturday. And the regular Wednesday shows over the next fortnight will capture every twist and turn in the 3.5L fight.

Championship points so far

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2012formularenault35drivercolours.csv

Start Aragon 1 Aragon 2 Monaco Spa 1 Spa 2 Nurburgring 1 Nurburgring 2 Moscow 1 Moscow 2 Silverstone 1 Silverstone 2 Hungaroring 1 Hungaroring 2 Paul Ricard 1 Paul Ricard 2
Jules Bianchi 0 0 0 18 36 36 61 61 79 85 110 125 140 142 154 179
Robin Frijns 0 15 40 40 46 61 76 86 111 111 129 131 156 166 172 174
Sam Bird 0 2 20 45 60 70 74 86 101 101 101 126 127 139 140 155
Nick Yelloly 0 25 25 31 33 51 51 76 76 76 88 92 92 92 110 122
Marco Sorensen 0 6 6 14 39 45 53 71 79 79 79 79 83 101 111 121
Antonio Felix da Costa 2 2 8 8 18 36 48 73 98 116
Arthur Pic 0 0 15 15 15 15 27 27 39 64 64 76 86 94 94 94
Kevin Magnussen 0 18 18 18 18 43 53 57 57 58 58 58 76 76 84 84
Nico Muller 0 0 0 10 20 32 50 50 54 54 54 60 68 68 72 78
Kevin Korjus 0 0 12 24 24 24 24 24 34 49 49 49 49 55 57 61
Alexander Rossi 0 0 10 25 25 25 25 27 27 37 37 47 49 53 53 53
Will Stevens 0 8 12 12 12 16 17 17 18 22 22 30 30 45 45 45

Formula Renault 3.5 uses the same points system as Formula One: 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1.

Who will win?

Who do you think will win the Formula Renault 3.5 title this weekend? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Who will win the Formula Renault 3.5 title?

  • Jules Bianchi (41%)
  • Robin Frijns (56%)
  • Sam Bird (3%)

Total Voters: 80

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Robin Frijns, Renault, 2012An F1 Fanatic account is required in order to vote. If you do not have one, register an account here or read more about registering here.

@Ben-Evans is ESPN’s lead commentator for the World Series by Renault. Follow him on Twitter.

What motorsport would you recommend other F1 fans to follow? If you want to put the case for your favourite non-F1 category write a guest article and send it in. More information here: Write a guest article for F1 Fanatic

Why you should watch…

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22 comments on F1 hopefuls battle for Formula Renault 3.5 title

  1. Pedro Costa (@pnunocosta) said on 19th October 2012, 15:36

    My vote goes to Bianchi over Frijns, it´s all about pressure, and Frijns is putting a lot in himself which I think is a mistake as he´s only 21 years old and he has time to climb the ladder.
    Bianchi as to win also, if he wants a chance at Force India he needs a title, plus he is carrying some momentum from last race.
    So Bianchi for the title but Antonio Felix da Costa for the race!

    • Jayfreese (@) said on 19th October 2012, 19:21

      Bianchi because he’s bloody fast and I’m French, Frijns because single-seaters look weirdly easy for him, Felix Da Costa for the future of motorsport (of bump-drafting)!

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 20th October 2012, 18:00

      Maybe Frijns is putting the pressure on himself, but Bianchi will defenitely be feeling the pressure as well, after not winning enough to really impress in GP2, he really needs to win this if he wants to get anywhere closer to F1.

  2. Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 19th October 2012, 16:24

    Wow, that Felix da Costa guy seems to be on fire in the second half of the season. :O

    • Tango (@tango) said on 19th October 2012, 16:56

      He only came back during the second half of the season. it seems Frijns and AFdC are really needles in Bird’s and Cianchi’s career paths. I really feel there is a gap in potential there. Shame, I enjoyed following them in GP2. (and what a shame these talented guys are doing a fourway high quality battle in F3.5 when the GP2 midfield is so weak. What a formula we could have had if all the top contenders of those series were to be in the same cars)

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 19th October 2012, 17:59

      @atticus-2 He’s been very impressive. More on him here:

      One To Watch: Antonio Felix da Costa

    • Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 19th October 2012, 18:07

      @tango @keithcollantine Thanks for the additional infos, I missed the earlier article on him – I don’t really follow the lower categories. However, this guy really seems to be exceptional.

      A Macau win on his one-off F3 outing would further strengthen his cause, that race is traditionally tough, I heard, and being a track enthusiast so knowing the track quite well, I think rightfully so.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 20th October 2012, 14:28

      @atticus-2 He has been fun to watch and was occasionally lighting up the field in the F1 support races. I’ll be keeping an eye on him certainly. I think he’s in the RBR development programme..

  3. JamieFranklinF1 (@jamiefranklinf1) said on 19th October 2012, 16:36

    I have to admit that I haven’t ever watched a Formula Renault 3.5 race, though after reading about it over the past few days, it seems I’ve been missing out!

    As an outside viewer, with no emotional attachment, nor sentimental attachment to any of the drivers or teams, I would have to say that Bianchi seems apt to take this one. He seems level-headed, experienced and fast, which is a lethal combination at any point during a season.

    Frijns, from what I’ve read on F1Fanatic, has had an impressive career and season to date, though not with some flaws. Given that he’s a rookie this year, it’s fantastic that he’s in contention for the title, and even though he lost the Championship lead in the last race (I think), it’ll be interesting to see how he approaches this race. Either the pressure will get to him, and he’ll flop ala Hamilton at Interlagos 2007, or he’ll rise to the occasion and impress even more than he’s done already.

    Bird, I know very little about, and can’t seem him taking this one. It seems as though he’s having a bad second half to the season (From what I know, which isn’t a lot) and it would take no less than a miracle for him to come out on top. Though this isn’t unheard of, considering what Raikkonen was able to do in 2007, combined with the misfortunes of McLaren.

    It seems as though it’s the 2007 season situation again, with Alonso and Hamilton gunning for the title, the experienced one and the rookie, with Raikkonen close behind. Even the whole: “He beats himself up if he doesn’t win,” says Fortec boss Richard Dutton. “He’s incredibly competitive he pushes all the time and he’s always looking for a bit extra. He’s not happy unless he’s on pole and and he’s never happy unless he wins.” reminds me a lot of Hamilton. But let’s face it, how many people would bet against Alonso now if the same situation occurred, but with Alonso having the same support as he does now at Ferrari? I know I certainly wouldn’t.

    So, I think Bianchi has it in the bag! For sure, I’m going to try and watch this one!

  4. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 19th October 2012, 16:46

    Probably Bianchi. I’m rooting for Frijns, but I think he just is not performing good enough in wet/mixed conditions and Barcelona.

    I don’t think it’s about pressure though. As discussed in another thread, his car won’t go in the rain, either due to Frijns’ (tyremgt) skills or the team.
    Still, hope to see him get a drive in F1.

    • Pedro Costa (@pnunocosta) said on 19th October 2012, 17:52

      I think that the rain expected to Barcelona will make predictions more accurate and definitively Bianchi will even be more favourite to the title and Felix da Costa to win both races.
      If we have dry conditions Frijns odds will get better.
      In resume a championship end that must be seen!

  5. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 19th October 2012, 19:12

    I like this Robin Frijn’s attitude. I’m convinced either him or Bianchi could be in F1 next year. Might try and watch this finale anyway!

  6. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 19th October 2012, 19:32

    I’m hoping for Frijns, although it will probably be Bianchi.

  7. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 20th October 2012, 9:55

    Put me down for hoping Frijns win it.

    I’m not so sure about Bianchi. Everyone raved about him when he dominated Formula 3 a few years ago, but then he got to GP2 and had a really disappointing campaign – so much so that he couldn’t even secure a seat for 2012. So he went across to Formula Renault 3.5, and while he’s been very impressive, I think that success really came at the expense of Kevin Korjus. Korjus was impressive last year, but he’s been nowhere this year, beleagured by technical problems and never really seeming to have the support of the team. It would not surprise me at all if Ferrari arranged for Tech-1 to put most of their support behind Bianchi from day one, and that does not sit well with me. Bianchi had his chance, and was disappointing. He shouldn’t receive more backing at the expense of another promising driver. That said, Korjus is young enough that he can wait a season or two to make a move on Formula 1, but wherever he is in 2013, he has to impress.

  8. andae23 (@andae23) said on 20th October 2012, 14:32

    Why you should watch Formula Renault 3.5… at least if Eurosport decides to show the WSR instead of tennis! :(

  9. Pedro Costa (@pnunocosta) said on 20th October 2012, 15:54

    Barcelona 1st race

    What a great drive by AFC! His first win in Hungaroring was given by a last lap problem with Magnussen´s car, the second one in the wet of Paul Ricard but to erase any doubts, if there were any, this victory at Barcelona showed that RB made no mistake signing him middle season.
    Incredible the mistake by Bianchi, one of the most experienced guys in the field doing such a clamorous misjudgement in this vital part of the championship, he may be a driver that had all the chances to succeed and miss them all. He better pulls something big tomorrow or he will start to be seen a potential great driver that may not ever to be.

    • Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 20th October 2012, 16:12

      Really impressed with Antonio’s move to take the lead at the chicane. Beautifully timed, just as Bird was moving the other way. I expect he’ll win again tomorrow, although Bird’s long shot at the title means he more or less has to win the race.

      Bianchi’s muppetry means Frijns can finish behind him and still be champion. Can’t wait for the decider, it’ll be a good test of nerve for Frijns and everyone who’s watching!

      Good to see Vainio doing well too – could be a really strong line-up next year if he and the other top GP3 guys stay in this series.

  10. Pedro Costa (@pnunocosta) said on 20th October 2012, 17:00

    If Bird wasn´t fighting for the championship that manouvre wouldn´t be so simple as it seemed, AFC took advantage of the fact that his opponent couldn´t afford a collision.
    Tomorrow´s race will be a do or die to Bianchi. Today he didn´t need to risk to much, and he did what he did, if tomorrow he needs to pass other drivers… it won´t end well.
    The pressure is all on his side, Frijns has got time to prove his ability on the coming years, Bianchi hasn´t.

  11. raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 20th October 2012, 18:13

    Here’s a list done by @mnmracer on the various permutations

  12. melkurion (@melkurion) said on 21st October 2012, 15:11

    Frijns takes the title!! Whoohooooo :D:D Also, hat of to Antonio Felix da Costa, he’ll surely take the title next year! What a drive.

    That’s 3 concecutive championships for frijns, formula BMW, euro Formua renault 2.0, formula renault 3.5

    An impressive tally

  13. Hey, update those numbers with a full jackpot from Félix da Costa. Great race and – hopefully! – a bright future! Congrats to Frijns (even if it isn’t the right way to scrap a championship with an accident).

  14. Pedro Costa (@pnunocosta) said on 21st October 2012, 15:52

    It´s never nice to win a title with a move like the one he did on Bianchi, that was an impossible manouvre, it looked like Frijns panicked and with the prospect of losing the championship he instintively threw his car on the inside of Bianchi putting him out of contention.
    In GP2 that would be a normal clash but in WSR 3.5 there is more respect for the opponent, something that Frijns didn´t show today. In my opinion he should get a suspension for next year first races.
    He probably didn´t need it either, Bianchi didn´t seem to have the pace to overtake Magnussen.

    In front of both races AFC delivered a perfect weekend and was in a class of his own. With proper pre-season testing and doing the whole season I believe there aren´t many doubts of who would have won this championship. I´d like to mention Alexander Rossi Whose results haven´t been brilliant but who has been very fast, but a huge amount of bad luck has prevented him to achieve better results.

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