A double victory on his return to Formula Renault 3.5 after missing a race with funding problems showed that the toughest battles for Argentina’s Esteban Guerrieri this year are off the track, not on it.
The ISR Racing driver won both races at Brno in the Czech Republic in the same way – by qualifying in second behind his team-mate Filip Salaquarda, then beating the Czech driver away at the start.
In the opening race he was first into the initial corner, while Salaquarda crashed out on the second lap. Brendon Hartley took over second place but could not close the gap to the leader, and third was taken by Anton Nebylitskiy who leaped from 10th to fourth on the opening lap.
Race two saw a much-improved performance by Salaquarda, whose team is owned by his family, but that still only translated into third place at the flag – not the result he had hoped for in front of his home crowd after his twin pole positions. Guerrieri held on in front despite handling difficulties, fending off the challenge of Nathanael Berthon who finished second.
Guerrieri has now won the last three races in which he has competed – but his victory in the second race at Spa was followed by his missing the series’ visit to Monaco, and he has not yet secured the funding for the next round at Magny-Cours.
He said: “I feel great. After the win at Spa it was not the best way to not go to Monaco, but the money situation was not in our favour. I understood that and wanted to help the team.
“We have to see what happens in the next races – if I am there, because we still have to find a budget. It is hard, but we will try and keep going. With the contenders going into this weekend not doing well, I am in the fight for the championship all of a sudden.”
Guerrieri – who last year matched multiple Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais wheel-to-wheel in Superleague Formula after the Frenchman displaced him from the car in which he started the season – now sits third in the title hunt despite having started only five of the seven races.
Russia’s Mikhail Aleshin remains the championship leader with 52 points despite a retirement and a ninth place at Brno, with Red Bull F1 reserve and reigning British F3 champion Daniel Ricciardo currently second with 49.
Guerrieri is next on 45, followed by Ricciardo’s team-mate Hartley on 40 and Estonia’s Sten Pentus on 37. There is then a big gap to the chasing pack, which is headed by Stefano Coletti.
Britain’s Jon Lancaster posted a 10th and a seventh-place finish in Brno and is now 10th in the standings, with Greg Mansell 16th after missing out on the top 10 in both races.