Stevens cruises to victory at Monza
12 April 2014 – Strakka Racing driver Will Stevens cruised to victory at the first round of the Formula Renault 3.5 championship at Monza.
Stevens took the lead at the start and was never headed following the early demise of practice and qualifying pace setter Carlos Sainz Jr.
Sainz Jr was unable to start from his grid position after he could not select a gear in his DAMS car ahead of the formation lap. The Spaniard started the race a few laps down from the pit lane and was consequently out of contention for overall honours.
Stevens took the lead after net pole man Will Buller bogged down off the grid, with Roberto Merhi moving up to second, ahead of Pierre Gasly.
But the race was neutralised after just one lap due to a huge accident on the pit straight. Marco Sørensen misjudged the gap to Jazeman Jaafar and moved across on his rival as they battled for position. Sørensen was tipped into a flip and struck the pit wall before he came to a rest with his car upside down by the pit exit. Neither driver was injured in the accident although both were taken to the medical centre for checks.
Stevens and Merhi pulled away at the start while Gasly held third place until he was passed by the Comtec Racing car of Nikolay Martsenko towards the end of the race. But Gasly soon found himself back in third after Martsenko dropped time and had to defend fourth place against Buller. Rookie Gasly eased to third, while Buller got through on Martsenko on the final lap to collect fourth.
Oliver Rowland came under pressure from Marlon Stöckinger but the Lotus driver himself was under threat from Sauber test driver Sergey Sirotkin, who went around the outside of his rival at the second chicane. However, the Russian soon squandered his position when he went off at the Ascari complex. Rowland came home in sixth, ahead of Stöckinger and Sirotkin.
Zoël Amberg and Meindert van Buuren rounded out the top 10, although several drivers remain under investigation due to exceeding track limits.
Rookies Matthieu Vaxivière and Beitske Visser both crashed out of the race during the closing stages. Vaxivière dipped a wheel onto the gravel at the Parabolica and swiped the barriers, while Visser made slight contact with the wall on the exit of the Ascari chicane.