Carlos Sainz Jr. has left title rival Roberto Merhi a near-impossible task to prevent him from claiming the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 championship after winning once again at Circuit Paul Ricard today.
Sainz had been under pressure from Merhi at the top of the standings heading into this weekend, but he answered in perfect fashion by winning both races and leading every single lap in the process to all but clinch the title.
Just as he did on Saturday, Sainz was dominant in the DAMS car, winning the race by over ten seconds from Pierre Gasly and Oliver Rowland as Merhi came home in fourth place.
After taking the maximum score of 50 points from this weekend, Sainz now leads from Merhi by 44 with just two races remaining.
As a result, if Merhi fails to win both races at Jerez in three weeks’ time, Sainz will become champion. Should Merhi manage to clinch the pair of victories, Sainz needs one seventh-place finish (or six points) to make it safe.
The championship acts as a feeder series to Formula 1, with last year’s champion Kevin Magnussen securing a drive with McLaren for the 2014 season. Sainz did look set to follow the Dane into F1 in 2015, only for Toro Rosso to hire Max Verstappen as a replacement for Jean-Eric Vergne instead.
Sainz does have a great deal of support behind him from Red Bull, and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso also firmly believes that his compatriot will make it into F1 soon despite his Toro Rosso snub.
In other junior racing news, McLaren youngster Nyck de Vries has secured his second title of the 2014 season after winning the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 crown at Paul Ricard today. This follows his win in the Formula Renault Alps championship earlier this year, and sets him out as a star to keep an eye on in the future.