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Silverstone Sweep for Canada’s Wickens

F1 Reserve Driver Retakes Formula Renault 3.5 Series Lead

Canada’s Robert Wickens takes in his Silverstone sweep. Photo by Paulo PellegriniCanada’s Robert Wickens dominated Round 7 of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series this weekend with the Carlin racer delivering a perfect performance to sweep the top step of the podium in both races at a packed Silverstone Circuit in the UK where an estimated 120,000 were in attendance for the free ‘World Series by Renault’ event.

The 22-year-old capped a memorable weekend, which included two pole positions to go with his two wins – the first time a driver has achieved this since the series started in 2005, by reclaiming the points lead in the Driver Standings.  Wickens now heads the field on 198 points, enjoying a 34-point advantage over France’s Jean Eric Vergne.  Robert’s commanding display also helped seal the Team Championship for Carlin with two rounds to spare.

Having lost the points lead to Vergne at the previous round in Hungary, Wickens, a reserve driver in Formula One for Marussia Virgin Racing, arrived at Silverstone looking to reclaim the lead and in Friday practice he showcased the pace with which he intended to dominate by topping the timesheets from the 26-strong field.

Saturday morning’s qualifying session produced more of the same with Robert’s Marussia Motors-backed entry the car to beat.  The Toronto racer ended the session on pole courtesy of a 1m45.015s flying lap around Silverstone’s Grand Prix Circuit – almost four tenths of a second quicker than America’s Alexander Rossi in second on 1m45.410s.

The afternoon’s 26-lap race would barely see Wickens threatened as he led off the line and into the first turn.  In command of the pace and dialed into his car, Robert comfortably steered his way to his third victory of the season taking the checkered flag ahead of Australian Daniel Ricciardo in second and fellow front-row starter, Rossi, in third.  With Vergne failing to score down in 12th, the Canadian reclaimed the points lead ahead of the second race.

Sunday’s qualifying round mirrored the previous day with Robert’s pace proving to be unbeatable.  A 1m45.379s captured the pole for Wickens with championship rival, Jean Eric Vergne, joining him on the front row courtesy of a time of 1m45.660s.

The title protagonists led the charge into the first turn on Sunday afternoon and once again it was Robert who maintained the lead.  As the mandatory pit-stops shook up the running order briefly, Wickens would again emerge at the head of the pack to lead all the way to the checkered flag after 25 laps. He celebrated his fourth win of the year with Ricciardo eventually being promoted to second, following Rossi’s exclusion from the spot, and France’s Nathanael Berthon taking third.

“It feels fantastic to have a weekend like this,” enthused Wickens after his Silverstone celebrations.  “Hopefully we can keep this going.  I set myself a personal goal of five wins this season so I’m getting close.  It would be great to achieve that but I’m focused on the championship.  I have to say I’m delighted for Carlin that they’ve won the Team Championship, they’ve worked so hard and thoroughly deserve it.  All in all it’s been an amazing weekend and with so many people here it had a fantastic atmosphere, I even spotted someone wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs shirt!”

Round 8 of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, the penultimate race weekend in this year’s championship, takes place in France at the Paul Ricard Circuit, Saturday 17th to Sunday 18th September 2011.  For further information on the World Series by Renault please log on to: www.worldseriesbyrenault.com

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