Oliver Rowland has been crowned the 2015 Formula Renault 3.5 champion with one round to spare after finishing eighth in Sunday’s second race at the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France.
Formula Renault 3.5 is the flagship series on the World Series by Renault package, and has produced a number of Formula 1 drivers including Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Kevin Magnussen and Carlos Sainz Jr.
Sainz won last year’s championship before moving up to F1 with Toro Rosso, and Rowland will now be looking to follow in his footsteps after wrapping up the 2015 title on Sunday.
The Briton came down with an illness in the morning, meaning that he could only qualify 14th. He managed to fight his way up the order to finish eighth, giving him the points he needed to wrap up the championship ahead of rival Matthieu Vaxiviere.
“I didn’t feel well this morning and qualifying lap wasn’t very good,” Rowland explained. “I got a good start and with the team, we did what we had to do.
“I am happy to have won this title and I can’t thank Fortec Motorsports and the Racing Steps Foundation enough for all their help. Congratulations also to Matthieu. He pushed me all along the season and was always on my heels!”
Vaxiviere had to win the race on Sunday to stand any chance of postponing Rowland’s celebrations until the season finale, but could only finish second behind Egor Orudzhev despite fighting back from a poor start.
“I got a good start, but I had a problem changing gears and I lost a lot,” Vaxiviere explained. “I tried to overtake Nyck [de Vries] to no avail and the radio wasn’t working to tell me when to stop. It was quite a horrible situation. The team did a good job, but Egor was perfect today.
“I am thrilled to be on the podium at my home race and I want to sincerely congratulate Oliver for winning the championship.”
With Fortec also winning the teams’ championship at Le Mans, next month’s finale in Jerez, Spain will offer nothing more than a final two race victories to the hungry field of young racers.
One win would see Rowland set a new record for wins in a Formula Renault 3.5 season, but with the title in his pocket, attention will undoubtedly have already turned to moving up the ladder in 2016.