France’s Mattieu Vaxiviere emerged victorious from the second race of the 2015 Formula Renault 3.5 season following a race-long battle with McLaren junior driver Nyck de Vries at Motorland Aragon in Spain on Sunday.
Vaxiviere failed to convert pole position on Saturday into a race win, crossing the line in fourth place as Britain’s Oliver Rowland won the first race of the year. He managed to qualify second on Sunday behind de Vries.
The race started under the safety car due to torrential rain, but was red flagged after five laps. Once the worst of the weather had been allowed to pass, the race resumed, with the safety car peeling in after two laps.
De Vries managed to pull out a lead over Vaxiviere, but found himself under attack after both drivers had made their mandatory pit stop. The Frenchman continued to reel the leader in, and managed to launch a last lap attack to move into the lead and cross the line for his maiden Formula Renault 3.5 victory.
“I missed my chance of winning yesterday, but I was able to score a lot of points,” Vaxiviere said. “Today, we had to wait until the conditions improved, but the race stewards made the right decision.
“I remained focused and pressured Nyck. The team did an excellent pit stop, allowing me to get closer. I managed my rain tires in such a way as to keep them cool on a drying track surface and I saw an opportunity.
“I had a go on the following lap and I am very happy to take this victory! I hope it continues like this at Spa and Monaco.”
De Vries may have come within touching distance of a victory in just his second race in the series, but he was humble in defeat.
“Qualifying went very well and I was satisfied with what we have done,” the McLaren junior said. “The pace was good and I managed to create a nice gap, but my tires suffered.
“Following the pit stop, I held off Matthieu, but he found an opening. Fair play to him.”
By finishing third, race one winner Oliver Rowland retains his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship after one round, with the next race taking place in Monaco on May 24.