Frijins’ Fabulous First in Moscow

The brand new Moscow raceway was so brand new, the organisers forgot to finish it. Partly built grandstands, technical glitches delaying the start and stray dogs were thankfully the only off track issues. Robin Frijns made his mark on the new circuit, in emphatic fashion.

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A compacted and twisty circuit, running anti-clockwise, the Moscow raceway proved difficult to master for many as a number of drivers suffered spins in the tight infield sections between turns 14 and 18. As proved on several occasions this year, one driver who had no problems getting to grips with a new circuit was Fortec’s Robin Frijns. The 20 year old Dutchman edged Lotus’s Marco Sorensen by a mere 0.05 seconds to claim his second pole of the season. Behind Sorensen on the grid, French Ferrari protégé Jules Bianchi and his countryman Arthur Pic (brother of Murussia F1 driver Charles). Next up was joint championship leader (along with Frijns) Sam Bird for ISR. Championship contenders Kevin Magnussen (Carlin) and Nick Yelloly (Comtec) had disappointing qualifying sessions. Magnussen could only manage 13th and Nurburgring race 2 winner Yelloly 22nd.

Dodgy Russian circuitry meant the start was delayed by 15 minutes. Once it got going, it was Frijns who made the perfect start, not needing to defend into turn one. It turned out to be a lead he would never lose for the duration of the race. Behind the Dutchman, it was a scene reminiscent of Christmas Eve parking at the supermarket, with Sorensen, Bird, Bianchi, Pic and Korjus all fighting for one crucial piece of road. Pic had made a poor start and defended heavily to the inside, but was forced out of it as Bianchi robustly shut the door as he and Bird took to the faster, outside line. Frijns ended the first lap 1.3 seconds ahead of Sorensen who continued to put pressure on though never attempting a move. Bianchi and Bird followed, with the British driver trying to force the Frenchman into a mistake. Bianchi would not succumb to the pressure and in time would pull away from the erstwhile points leader.

 The two leaders gradually pulled away from the battling Bianchi and Bird, who were soon to be joined by DAMS’ Arthur Pic making up for a sluggish start. Behind them, a gaggle of cars headed by Arden’s Antonio Felix Da Costa began an intriguing battle for positions including Kevin Korjus, Jake Rosenzweig, Alexander Rossi and Lucas Foresti in the second DAMS. Korjus managed to pull alongside Da Costa as they approached the final corner, but the Arden driver defended to the inside and Korjus had to back out. The gaps ebbed and flowed with each lap, with Kevin Magnussen joining the snake as the plot thickened.

 Cesar Ramos’ race went from bad to worse. The Brazilian subbing for Ritchie Stanaway in the Lotus qualified 17th but had to start from the pitlane due to issues on the grid. His race didn’t last long though, stopping at the end of the opening lap. No doubt thumping the countless buttons on the steering wheel whilst yelling at the team “it’s not working!” down the radio, he got out the car several laps later. For the opening 10 laps, this was perhaps the most exciting moment as overtaking probably wasn’t on the initial Tilke draft plan of the circuit.

 Sorensen, feeling the benefit of fresher tyres began to close dramatically on leader Frijns, reducing the gap to 0.7 seconds. Frijns becoming ragged, slid precariously wide at turn 15 before brilliantly catching the car to calmly maintain his lead. But the pressure was on. And it continued, Sorensen relentless in attack, began to close once more. Using the slipstream on the back straight, the Dane pulled out and alongside into the hairpin. Both braking dangerously late, Sorensen tried to pull off a wonder move round the outside. But instead of finding himself in the lead as planned, he found a pile of marbles and dust and looped the Lotus car 360 degrees, engulfing both him and the following Bianchi and Bird in a billowing cloud of tyre smoke. Bianchi did well to avoid the melee and inherited second place. Sorensen dropped behind Bird and Pic to fifth, but was thankful not to have dropped further.

 Frijns should have been left in the clear, however, the safety car was brought out not once, but twice to remove inexplicable stationary cars. The first was for Carlos Huertas and the second for Anton Nebylitsky who had earlier served a drive through penalty dropping him down the field. Safety car in and the action finally, at long last arrived. Hallelujah! Suddenly, the field realised they were racing and not playing follow the leader. Kevin Korjus finally overhauled Da Costa, selling the Portuguese a dummy on the outside, before cutting back on the inside and taking the place. The Estonian who has had an indifferent start to the season eased away showing signs of the electric pace of last season. Man of the match this weekend was certainly Will Stevens. Starting from 20th, the Carlin driver worked his way up to 10th by the end, brilliantly forcing his way past Nick Yelloly and Zoel Amberg at turn 12. He made his move on Amberg at a cost however, as Nico Muller nipped past the pair of them in an enthralling battle for 14th place. Safety out for a second time, this time with 2 minutes left on the clock.

 As the second safety car pitted, there was a last lap dash to the flag, with the positions largely remaining the same. Drivers not laughing at the end of the race were Kevin Magnussen and Alexander Rossi who were both taken out by an out of control Lucas Foresti at the last corner. The Brazilian locked the rear brakes under braking for the hairpin, slid over the grass and mounted the rear of the Carlin car. Magnussen then knocked into the side of Rossi’s Caterham and all three ended in the gravel. Rossi was looking at Magnussen, Magnussen was looking at Rossi, both of them were looking for Foresti who was busy scuttling off to remove his somewhat red face. Keeping his helmet on was probably a good idea and Rossi and Magnussen seemed less than impressed with the Brazilian’s antics.

 Frijns took a comfortable victory from Bianchi and Bird. They were followed by Arthur Pic and Kevin Korjus, who profited from another last corner mistake by Marco Sorensen to take fifth. Da Costa took an easy seventh over the line while Nico Muller, Daniil Move and Will Stevens were gifted three spots in one. Frijins has sent out a striking message to his challengers. Catch me if you can!

Result

Position

No.

Driver

NAT

Team

Laps

1

4

Robin Frijns

NED

Fortec Motorsport

30

2

8

Jules Bianchi

FRA

Tech 1

30

3

5

Sam Bird

GBR

ISR

30

4

28

Arthur Pic

FRA

DAMS

30

5

7

Kevin Korjus

EST

Tech 1

30

6

12

Marco Sorensen

DEN

Lotus

30

7

26

Antonio Felix Da Costa

POR

Arden Caterham

30

8

21

Nico Muller

SUI

Draco Racing

30

9

10

Daniil Move

RUS

P1 Motorsport

30

10

2

Will Stevens

GBR

Carlin

30

11

23

Vittorio Ghirelli

ITA

Comtec Racing

30

12

24

Nick Yelloly

GBR

Comtec Racing

30

13

22

André Negrao

BRA

Draco Racing

30

14

17

Mikhail Aleshin

RUS

Team RFR

30

15

20

Zoel Amberg

SUI

Pons Racing

30

16

1

Kevin Magnussen

DEN

Carlin

29

17

25

Alexander Rossi

USA

Arden Caterham

29

18

27

Lucas Foresti

BRA

DAMS

29

19

19

Yann Cunha

BRA

Pons Racing

29

20

15

Sergey Sirotkin

RUS

BVM Target

29

Not class

18

Anton Nebylitskiy

RUS

Team RFR

24

Not class

3

Carlos Huertas

BRA

Fortec Motorsport

20

Not class

9

Walter Grubmuller

AUT

P1 Motorsport

20

Not class

6

Jake Rosenzweig

USA

ISR

6

Not class

11

Cesar Ramos

BRA

Lotus

0

Fastest lap: Jules Bianchi – Tech 1 Motorsport – 1m 25.068

Drivers Championship

Points

1. Robin Frijns

111

2. Sam Bird

101

3. Jules Bianchi

79

4. Marco Sorensen

76

5. Nick Yelloly

76

6. Kevin Magnussen

57

7. Nico Muller

54

8. Arthur Pic

39

9. Kevin Korjus

34

10. Alexander Rossi

27

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