Costa wins as Wickens claims title in Barcelona
9 October 2011 – Canadian Robert Wickens has claimed the 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 championship title in Barcelona after he and Carlin team-mate Jean-Éric Vergne collided in the final round. To the delight of thousands of Spanish spectators, Albert Costa celebrated a maiden career win as Nick Yelloly and Brendon Hartley completed the top three.
A clean start by pole man Costa and championship leader Wickens saw the two reach Turn 1 together, although a lightning quick getaway from Anton Nebylitskiy allowed the Russian to draw closer before briefly taking to the grass.
Starting fifth, the win would be required for title-contending Vergne who immediately attacked team-mate Wickens at the first corner, making contact. Another touch followed at the second part of Elf, with this breaking Wickens’ left-front wheel to prevent him from making Turn 3; in the mayhem, innocent Nathanaël Berthon was collected, with his ISR car flipping and landing in the gravel trap upside down - the Frenchman required medical assistance after the accident.
Vergne initially looked set to steal the title, although it was soon obvious that the Frenchman’s car was damaged, with an eventual touch from Fairuz Fauzy spinning him out of the race and the championship battle at Turn 10.
Costa continued to extend his lead to a healthy eventual margin of 4.4 seconds, pushing particularly hard as his future remains completely unknown; the win was warmly received by thousands of Catalan spectators on an ideal autumn day. Yelloly impressed in second for Pons as a satisfied Hartley ended his year with a podium finish in the Gravity-Charouz car.
“It’s nice to be back on the podium and to take the victory," first-time winner Costa told GPUpdate.net. "I’m happy for the team because we’ve worked so hard over these last races; it’s a new team and it’s always difficult to start from zero. Everybody knows I have nothing for next year, so I said to the team, ‘For these last races I need to push like hell’ – I tried it and it worked.
“Yesterday I wasn’t lucky, but this is motorsport and this is the result of a lot of work this year – so it’s all happy! The support from the fans is amazing; I can walk around the paddock and all the people know you – photos, autographs, it’s all extra motivation.
“The plan now this week is to be at home training and then we’ll see what happens. I really don’t know about my future at the moment.”
Track action continues at the Circuit de Catalunya with Formula Renault 3.5 testing on Tuesday and Wednesday