Russian Alexander Smolyar (R-ace GP) scored the finest victory of his young career in winning the Formula Renault Eurocup race held as the curtain raiser for the F1 Monaco Grand Prix. The SMP Racing protégé was followed to the chequers by Renault Sport Academy driver and race 1 winner Victor Martins (MP Motorsport) and rookie João Vieira (JD Motorsport). He will receive a BRM chronograph for his success in one of the most prestigious events on the calendar.
After setting the time to beat in Friday qualifying, Alexander Smolyar lined up on pole ahead of Victor Martins. João Vieira started third, followed by Caio Collet (R-ace GP) and Oscar Piastri (R-ace GP).
When the lights went out, Alexander Smolyar held on to the lead ahead of Victor Martins and the opening laps went without incident, except for Patrick Schott (FA Racing by Drivex) and Yves Baltas (M2 Competition), who returned to the pits to change their front wings.
Following closely behind Alexander Smolyar, Victor Martins set a series of fastest laps to remain less than a second behind the Russian. Further back, João Vieira saw the left flap of his front wing fall off. Trailing by more than ten seconds after five laps, the Brazilian driver had to fend off the attacks of Caio Collet and Oscar Piastri.
On lap 14, the safety car was called out after Sebastián Fernández (Arden Motorsport) stopped on the climb to Beau Rivage. Alexander Smolyar held on to the lead and the order remained the same when the race resumed.
Keeping a cool head just until the chequered flag was waved by Renault F1 Team driver Daniel Ricciardo, Alexander Smolyar took the win by 0.8s from Victor Martins, who now leads the general classification. Harassed by Caio Collet and Oscar Piastri, João Vieira held on to complete the podium and won the Hankook Trophy for the highest placed rookie.
Xavier Lloveras was sixth and scored the first points for the Global Racing Services team in the Formula Renault Eurocup. The Spaniard was followed by Lorenzo Colombo (MP Motorsport), who got the better of Renault Sport Affiliated Driver Leonardo Lorandi (JD Motorsport) at the restart. Callan O’Keeffe (FA Racing by Drivex) and Patrik Pasma (Arden Motorsport) completed the top ten.
The Formula Renault Eurocup will head to Circuit Paul Ricard next week (May 31-June 2) for round four of the 2019 season.
Alexander Smolyar (R-ace GP): “This was probably the best race of my life. After qualifying, I said I was in the midst of making one of my dreams come true. Now it is done and it is just unbelievable! I was expecting to be slower than Victor Martins, who had four new tyres versus two for me, but the car was faster than it was yesterday and everything went really well. But the intervention of the safety car made me a little nervous! Happily, thanks to my engineer, I soon knew where I was losing time and I was able to correct all my small mistakes to be on the same pace as Victor and control the race.”
Victor Martins (MP Motorsport): “This is important for my confidence and for the team to take the championship lead. This underscores the constant progress we are making, even though the objective for the driver is always to win. I got a little bit better start than Alex, but it wasn’t enough for me to attack. I tried to pressure on him in coming back strong, but you have to be a lot faster to create an opportunity on this track. Unfortunately for me, Alex didn’t leave a single chance today and he has to be congratulated.”
João Vieira (JD Motorsport): “This was one of the most difficult races of my career and this third place is well-deserved! It was extremely hard with Collet and Piastri filling my mirrors. When a flap on my wing broke without me knowing why, I thought they were a full second per lap faster. It was really difficult to maintain the pace and my position, especially with Caio, who tried everything he could to push me into a mistake!”
|1. Victor Martins (MP Motorsport)||89|
|2. Alexander Smolyar (R-ace GP)||86|
|3. Oscar Piastri (R-ace GP)||84|
|4. Caio Collet (R-ace GP)||55|
|5. João Vieira (JD Motorsport)||50|
*Results subject to confirmation following technical and sporting checks.