Leader of the general classification, Oscar Piastri (R-ace GP) took a giant step towards the title in winning the first night race in Formula Renault Eurocup history ahead of his rival and pole sitter Victor Martins (MP Motorsport). The Australian now has a 20.5-point lead ahead of the final race of the season Saturday afternoon at the Yas Marina Circuit. Lorenzo Colombo (MP Motorsport) completed the top three and was joined on the podium by rookie category winner, Kush Maini (M2 Competition).

A pole for just 0.002s

After dominating Thursday’s collective tests, Victor Martins kept his momentum going Friday morning in claiming his fifth consecutive pole with a lap of 2:08.324s.

Under bright blue skies, the first qualifying session for the Formula Renault Eurocup in Abu Dhabi saw Victor Martins and Oscar Piastri battle for best time. The Frenchman took the advantage before the Australian answered back with five minutes remaining in the session, but Victor Martins wasn’t finished and edged his title rival for just 0.002s.

The two title contenders were followed by Lorenzo Colombo while Alexander Smolyar (R-ace GP) nipped fourth place from Sebastián Fernández (Arden Motorsport) by a mere 0.001s.

Qualifying 1 - Starting grid

Oscar’s night

At dusk, Oscar Piastri jumped into the lead ahead of Lorenzo Colombo at turn one while Victor Martins dropped to third place. Behind, Alexander Smolyar held on to fourth place while Kush Maini passed Sebastián Fernández just before the safety car was called into service.

The race restarted after two laps for the removal of the car of Xavier Lloveras (Global Racing Service), that was hit by Petr Ptáček (Bhaitech Racing), who received a two-place grid penalty for the Saturday race. When the action resumed, Oscar Piastri pulled away form the field led by Lorenzo Colombo just until the Italian was overtaken by Victor Martins.

The gap between the two title contenders was over two seconds, so the Frenchman immediately strung together a series of fastest laps to catch up to the Australian, but wasn’t able to get close enough to try a passing move.

Despite the return of Victor Martins, Oscar Piastri kept a cool head to take his seventh win of the season, win a specially designed watch created by BRM Chronographes for the winner of the Abu Dhabi night race and take his lead to 20.5 points with just 25 points left up for grabs. He received his trophy from Abu Dhabi Racing Chairman Sheikh Khalid bin Faisal bin Sultan Al Qassimi.

Lorenzo Colombo completed the podium ahead of Alexander Smolyar and Sebastián Fernández, who got past Kush Maini four laps from the chequers. The Indian driver won the Hankook Trophy awarded to the highest finishing rookie. Patrik Pasma (Arden Motorsport) and Caio Collet (R-ace GP) followed after starting 10th and 11th respectively. MP Motorsport drivers Amaury Cordeel and Matteo Nannini completed the top ten.

Race 1 - Drivers classification - Teams classification

Quotes

Oscar Piastri (R-ace GP): “I wasn’t too disappointed in qualifying, because we reduced the gap from 0.7s in the first practice session to 0.002s this morning. It is always a bit frustrating when the gap is so close, but I was happy with the progress we made. My start wasn’t great because Lorenzo’s was better. However, I was able to take the lead and I only had to control the race although I saw Victor getting closer in my mirrors. I stayed focused to avoid making any errors. I made a few, but our pace was good enough to hold on to the lead. Tomorrow, the best way to secure the title will be to finish ahead so, I need to stay focused, continue to work like I have all season long and avoid taking unnecessary risks.”

Victor Martins (MP Motorsport): “I had the situation in hand, but I got a bad start and I soon realised that it would be hard to make up all the lost time in the opening lap. After the safety car, Lorenzo let me by and I did everything I could to close up to Oscar. I wasn’t able to do it, but the season still isn’t over. Anything can happen tomorrow and my main target will be to win the pole in qualifying.”

Lorenzo Colombo (MP Motorsport): “I am delighted to be back on the podium. It was a good race and I got an excellent start to move into second place. I even tried to surprise Oscar at the outside of turn one, but I couldn’t pull it off. After the safety car, the team asked me to let Victor by because his pace was better. I did as soon as I could, because Alexander Smolyar was quite close and I wanted to be sure I could secure the podium. I thought third place would be the best result I could get today and I will need to pick up the pace if I want to do better tomorrow!”

Kush Maini (M2 Competition): “It has been a long time since my last rookie win as we had a rough patch in the middle of the season. I also made some mistakes costing a lot of points. Today, I was able to move into fifth place at the start before losing some pace and Sebastián Fernández took advantage to get past me. I hope to put in a good qualifying lap tomorrow to start as high up as possible on the grid and aim for the podium. My goal this year was to learn as much as possible, so to finish sixth in the general classification, best of the rest behind R-ace GP and MP Motorsport drivers while being second-best rookie would be a small consolation prize despite the lost opportunities during the season.”

Provisional general classification*
Drivers Points
1. Oscar Piastri (R-ace GP) 308
2. Victor Martins (MP Motorsport) 287.5
3. Alexander Smolyar (R-ace GP) 245
4. Lorenzo Colombo (MP Motorsport) 196.5
5. Caio Collet (R-ace GP) 192
... ...

*Results subject to confirmation following technical and sporting checks.

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