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Wickens Battles for Points at Hungaroring

Canadian Showcases Racing Credentials in Formula Renault 3.5

Canada’s Robert Wickens in his Marussia Motors-backed Carlin entry. Photo by Paulo Pellegrini.The Hungaroring Circuit in Hungary allowed Robert Wickens an opportunity to showcase his racing credentials this weekend as the Canadian was forced to race his way through the field for points in Round 6 of the 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 Series – the Carlin driver recording 5th and 7th place finishes respectively.

Battling from 11th to fifth in Saturday’s opening race, Robert was then denied a third place finish in Sunday’s outing having initially raced from ninth on the grid to the final podium spot only to be awarded a time-penalty, after race stewards deemed his release in the pits to be unsafe following his mandatory stop, dropping him to a seventh-place classified finish.

As a result of that outcome, Wickens surrenders the points lead in the Driver Standings but trails France’s Jean-Eric Vergne by just four points heading into the next round in August (152-148). 

An engine failure in Friday’s first practice session limited Robert’s track time initially at the 4.38km circuit.  What followed on Saturday proved to be more problematic as an unquantifiable lack of feeling on fresh tires hampered the Toronto racer’s ability to push in qualifying leaving him 11th on the grid for the afternoon’s event.

The 29-lap race saw Robert crack the top-ten immediately and by the second tour was up to eighth.  Defying the Hungaroring’s reputation as being a hard circuit to overtake on, Wickens picked off his rivals to climb to fifth at the checkered flag – scoring ten welcomed points after a challenging morning.  Jean-Eric Vergne claimed the win, joined on the podium by America’s Alexander Rossi and Spain’s Sergio Canamasas.

An improved, though still frustrating qualifying session, saw Wickens line up ninth for Sunday afternoon’s race meeting.  Another great start from the Marussia Motors-backed racer propelled him through the field to sixth.  Pitting for his mandatory stop as soon as the window opened, a great in-lap combined with slick pit-work from Carlin allowed Robert to then challenge for the podium.  While he took the checkered flag in third, the ten-second penalty applied by stewards for an apparent unsafe release from his pit-box, robbed him of his seventh podium and the series lead.  Vergne won again with Spain’s Albert Costa second and Ireland’s Adam Carroll third.

“Well we were all a little baffled by the tire issues in qualifying this weekend, we’ll study that in more depth, but we’re currently more frustrated at the time-penalty in today’s race as that cost me some serious points and a podium,” Wickens stated.  “The weekend turned into damage-limitation and I was certainly happy to finish fifth on Saturday.  Today’s outcome is definitely more frustrating knowing what we’ve lost courtesy of the decision of the stewards.  It’s not the end of the world however.  I’ve lost what was a comfortable cushion in the points but I’m only four points off the lead with plenty of time to keep fighting and ultimately get the job done!”

Robert will be attending the British Grand Prix at Silverstone next weekend, 8th – 10th July, in his role as an official reserve F1 driver for Marussia Virgin Racing before returning to the British track for Round 7 of the World Series by Renault, 20th – Sunday 21st August 2011.  For further information on the World Series by Renault please log on to: www.worldseriesbyrenault.com

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