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Silverstone Formula Renault 3.5: Jules Bianchi dominates crazy first race

Jules Bianchi, Tech 1, Silverstone 2012Jules Bianchi took a dominant victory in a chaotic first Formula Renault 3.5 race of the weekend at Silverstone.

The Frenchman survived horrendous changeable conditions to cross the line first, in a race where only 10 cars made the finish.

Tech 1 driver Bianchi moved up from fourth to second at the start of the race, taking advantage of a slow start for championship leader Robin Frijns from the front row. But with rain falling the track was already too wet for slick tyres in some places.

Polesitter Kevin Magnussen was the first to fall foul of the conditions, crashing at Becketts on lap two while leading. Bianchi and Frijns took that as a signal and pitted for wets at the end of the lap, leaving Alexander Rossi to lead the race on slicks.

But Rossi's race lasted just a few more corners, as he became the first of seven cars to crash at a flooded Luffield corner on lap three. Other significant runners to join him in the wall were Sam Bird, Marco Sorensen and Nico Muller.

The race had to be red-flagged because there were not enough recovery vehicles to clear the mess. Will Stevens led from the restart, having been allowed to change from slicks to wets during the stoppage.

But on the first racing lap, Stevens spun out, as he was the first car to encounter an awful amount of water on the track at Stowe.

That left Bianchi leading Frijns (Fortec), with series debutant Nigel Melker, who had also gone off at Luffield on lap three but was the only driver to keep going, in third for Lotus.

Nick Yelloly was next up in fourth, and after surviving a bit of an attack from Lucas Foresti and Carlos Huertas, the Briton was able to consolidate his position to the finish.

There were plenty more spinners and crashers further back, but the star of the restarted race was Red Bull junior Antonio Felix da Costa. The Portuguese driver charged through from 13th to fifth by the finish, staying out of trouble and picking off several of his more cautious rivals in the process.

Results - 20 laps:

Pos  Driver                  Team                Time/Gap
 1.  Jules Bianchi           Tech 1          1h03m31.309s
 2.  Robin Frijns            Fortec              + 7.542s
 3.  Nigel Melker            Lotus              + 17.372s
 4.  Nick Yelloly            Comtec             + 27.806s
 5.  Antonio Felix da Costa  Arden Caterham     + 37.119s
 6.  Carlos Huertas          Fortec             + 49.121s
 7.  Lucas Foresti           DAMS               + 52.050s
 8.  Walter Grubmuller       P1               + 1m09.383s
 9.  Vittorio Ghirelli       Comtec           + 1m21.149s
10.  Daniel Zampieri         BVM Target           + 1 lap

Retirements:

     Mikhail Aleshin         RFR                  18 laps
     Daniil Move             P1                   12 laps
     Jake Rosenzweig         ISR                  10 laps
     Andre Negrao            Draco                 8 laps
     Zoel Amberg             Pons                  8 laps
     Will Stevens            Carlin                7 laps
     Alexander Rossi         Arden Caterham        2 laps
     Sam Bird                ISR                   2 laps
     Nico Muller             Draco                 2 laps
     Marco Sorensen          Lotus                 2 laps
     Nikolay Martsenko       BVM Target            2 laps
     Yann Cunha              Pons                  2 laps
     Anton Nebylitskiy       RFR                   2 laps
     Kevin Korjus            Tech 1                2 laps
     Kevin Magnussen         Carlin                 1 lap
     Arthur Pic              DAMS                  0 laps
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