The Sarthe-based team couldn't have dreamed of a better exit in the final round of the World Series by Renault on Sunday with Nyck De Vries' masterly drive to his first victory in FR 3.5. The McLaren Junior's win gave him third place in the drivers' championship plus the Best Rookie title and helped DAMS clinch second place in the teams' classification. The only shadow over the weekend was that Dean Stoneman's jinx struck yet again. Thus DAMS and the FR 3.5 Series part ways, and the French squad leaves the championship with four titles and 16 victories plus many great memories. Good luck to the new series in 2016.
Weather: variable, alternating rain and sun (18-24°C).
Free practice 1: P4 for De Vries and P11 for Stoneman. Different setups tested on the two cars.
Free practice 2: P6 for Dr Vries (a few small errors) and P8 for Stoneman (change to new tyres a bit too early).
Qualifying 1: P7 for De Vries and P12 for Stoneman. Rain before the session, drying track and then more rain.
Qualifying 2: P3 for De Vries (unable to do a final lap to improve). P9 for Stoneman (lack of grip).
Race 1: It was raining at the start which was given behind the safety car. When the race finally got under way De Vries climbed up into sixth place and Stoneman broke into the top 10. As the track began to dry the Dutchman started to push hard and fought his way up to fourth at the flag. Stoneman moved up into eighth place and prepared to come in to put on slicks, but had a radio communications problem with his pit and his crew wasn't ready when he arrived. This led to a very long stop and he spun later, which explains why the Red Bull driver finally came home in 13th place.
Race 2: De Vries made a superb start and snatched second place while Stoneman also made a good getaway, but got caught up in a sandwich and the result was broken right hand rear suspension which caused his retirement. Up front the leader, Oliver Rowland, made a mistake at the end of the first lap and De Vries shot past into first place. The DAMS rookie opened up a 10-second gap over his pursuers, and even a safety car intervention towards the end of the heat failed to dent his concentration and he went on to win the race. He was far and away the quickest driver in the final event as he confirmed by setting the fastest lap and taking the chequered flag in first position after a stunning drive.
Nyck de Vries: "I feel very happy and very relieved! We already almost won the first race of the year, and I was absolutely determined to bring home a victory to the team to thank them for the marvellous job they've done this season. We were always fighting at the front and we were just missing that little extra till the last race. Everything fell into place to give us this success at last. DAMS was the reigning champion. I won in FR 2.0 last year and I put myself under enormous pressure this season. In the end it's been a hugely enriching experience and it'll be a great help to me in the future. Thank you everybody! "
Dean Stoneman: "This championship has ended on a very low note for me; it all went wrong this weekend. In the first qualifying session I set the third-fastest time which was cancelled; then there was the problem with the radio in the first heat in which we could have scored a good result. And to cap it all the collision on Sunday! Nonetheless, the season's been a satisfying one overall; we had some very good races despite a persistent lack of luck. I'd like to thank the whole team who were really on the ball all year and I wish them all the best for the future."
François Sicard, Managing Director: "Hats off to everybody and to Nyck in particular. This well-deserved victory is a rich reward for the whole team's work throughout the season. We knew his potential which he expressed from Motorland onwards. He's got a great future ahead of him. It's the same thing for Dean who was very quick, and I'm really disappointed for him because he was unlucky on so many occasions. Finally, in the name of DAMS I'd like to thank the whole World Series and the Renault organisation. We've had great years and scored many victories that are part of our history. DAMS has now set its sights on other objectives with the hope of achieving the same level of success."
Jerez in figures
Nyck De Vries : P4, P1
Dean Stoneman: P13, retired
Final classification: drivers' championship
1. O. Rowland, 307 points ; 2. M. Vaxivière, 234 ; 3. N. De Vries, 160 (1st rookie)... 6. D. Stoneman, 130.
Final classification teams' championship:
1. Fortec, 427 points ; 2. DAMS, 290 ; 3. Lotus, 274.
Although DAMS didn't score any top-3 finishes in its home race the team is satisfied with Dean Stoneman's two fourth places and Nyck De Vries good points haul. This overall result has put the French squad back in second place in the teams' classification before the final round of the year. The two rookies are in third and fourth places in the drivers' standings, but it's still very close and the last place in the top 3 will be decided in Jerez in three weeks. Congratulations to Oliver Rowland and Fortec, the new Formula Renault 3.5 champions.
Weather: fine, dry and sunny (15-19°C).
Free practice 1: P4 for Stoneman and P11 for De Vries. It was the drivers first time out on this circuit for which DAMS had no references in F.R 3.5.
Free practice 2: P3 for Stoneman, P7 for De Vries. Modifications to setups and progress.
Qualfying 1: P6 for Stoneman and P8 for De Vries. Cars better balanced but tyres not fully exploited.
Qualifying 2: P6 for Stoneman and P7 for De Vries. Drivers satisfied with the balance but underlined lack of grip.
Race 1: Stoneman made a very good start and took fourth place almost immediately. But the Bugatti motorbike-style circuit is pretty slow and there are few overtaking opportunities. Despite never giving up he was unable to get past Tom Dillman to snatch third. For the same reasons De Vries took the flag in seventh place.
Race 2: Stoneman made another excellent start and slotted into fourth place again. The safety car deployment on lap 5 messed up the team's strategy. Nonetheless, the English rookie drove a very offensive race and was all over Tio Ellinas without being able to topple him from third stop. Despite a very good start De Vries' race was spoilt by an overlong pit stop. Even so he bagged the point that went with 10th place.
Nyck de Vries: "It was the first time out on the Le Mans circuit for everybody and it wasn't easy. We prepared well and we kept improving our setups. The first race went off fairly well, but it's really very difficult to overtake here. I made a good start in race two and then there was this pit stop problem. It happens, but that's racing. We're now going to work really hard to prepare for the last event and finish the season in a blaze of glory!"
Dean Stoneman: "In terms of points I came away from my first weekend at Le Mans with a good score and I've retaken third place in the drivers' championship. Besides that satisfaction I feel a bit frustrated as fourth is always an unsatisfying place: especially in the second heat. The car was very quick and we tried to pull off a strategic coup by bringing forward our pit stop. But I was bottled up behind Ellinas although I was quicker than him. Sometimes he was on the extreme limit and I just had to make do with this result."
François Sicard, Managing Director: "Overall it's been a fairly satisfactory weekend even if we feel it could have been better. It was the first time we raced on the Bugatti circuit in Formula Renault 3.5 and we lacked data. As our drivers didn't know it either we started from a clean sheet and we made consistent progress: but not enough to be in a position to win. This being said both Dean and Nyck put on good performances. Dean really deserved to finish on the podium but he lost it due to the nature of the circuit. The final in Jerez will be very exciting and we'll defend our positions in both championships tooth and nail!"
Le Mans in figures
Nyck De Vries : P7, P10
Dean Stoneman : P4, P4
Classification drivers' championship
1. O. Rowland, 264 points ; 2. M. Vaxivière, 204 ; 3. D. Stoneman, 130 ; 4. N. De Vries, 123.
Classification teams' championship:
1. Fortec, 370 points ; 2. DAMS, 253 ; 3. Lotus, 244.
Final round: Jerez, 16-18 October.
McLaren's Dutch protégé was incisive and opportunistic on Saturday and Sunday and his reward was a second and a third place at the Nürburgring. Thanks to these results he is now in third place in the drivers' championship and consolidated DAMS' place in the teams' ratings. His team-mate, Dean Stoneman, was unlucky again in Germany, but he still scored sixth place on Sunday, and isn't too far behind his team-mate in the overall drivers' classification.
Weather conditions: Fine on Saturday (20°C) overcast on Sunday morning (around 15°C). Intermittent rain in the afternoon.
Free practice 1: P1 for Stoneman, P2 for De Vries
Free practice 2: P4 for Stoneman, P7 for De Vries. Different setups tested.
Qualifying 1: P4 for De Vries (2nd time but 2-place penalty), P8 for Stoneman. Several yellows and a red flag at the end which deprived Stoneman of a place on the second row.
Qualifying 2: P7 for Stoneman (18/100sec off P2), P9 for De Vries. Cold track after rain during the night.
Race 1: De Vries made a blinding start and got up into second place in the first corner where he stayed. After the deployment of the safety car he held on to the leader Oliver Rowland till the end scoring a brilliant second place only 1.2sec behind the Englishman. On the other hand, Stoneman's Silverstone nightmare repeated itself. The front wing of one of his rivals sliced his left-hand rear tyre and he had to pit on the first lap.
Race 2: The track was drying out at the start so there was a different tyre choice: De Vries on wet weather rubber and Stoneman on slicks like Rowland on pole. The Dutchman made his obligatory stop very early and put on slicks. The safety car came out soon afterwards and gave him an opportunity to finish on the podium, which he seized with both hands despite the return of the rain in the last two laps. Stoneman was harpooned by another car on lap 2 and spun dropping down the classification. Thanks to his searing pace on slicks he had fought his way back up to fourth when the safety car was deployed. He was obliged to make a late pit stop. Despite this he made another stunning fight back from 12th to seventh place, which became sixth when Fantin was penalised.
Nyck De Vries: "I'm really happy to dedicate these two podiums to the team who did a fantastic job. We were very quick on Saturday as I was able to show with an aggressive start. I don't really know how I managed to finish on the podium on Sunday! I didn't have the right tyres at the start: the way the race unfolded obviously helped me. I was a bit lucky but I didn't make any mistakes in the rain and that's what counted."
Dean Stoneman: "My bad luck followed me here from Silverstone! It's a great pity as the car was very well balanced right from the start of the first free session. Let's forget the first race as there was nothing I could do about the collision. In the second I was able to show just how quick we were. The safety car ruined my chances of a top-three finish, but in the last three laps the car was absolutely fantastic. Although it was good to score some points we really deserved much better."
Caroline Grifnée, Team Manager: "We can take away a lot of positives from this weekend in Germany. First of all Nyck's two podiums, especially the one on Saturday. He showed just how quick he is and he hung onto Rowland like a limpet. The next day he took advantage of the situation in masterly fashion so his overall results were excellent. Unfortunately, Dean was again the victim of bad luck in the first race, and also a bit in the second. However, he demonstrated his outright speed on a circuit he didn't know. Even though both he and Nyck will be having their first outing on the Le Mans layout, we're going there with our motivation at an all-time high for our home race!"
The Nürburgring in figures
Nyck De Vries: P2, P3
Dean Stoneman: retired, P6
Classification drivers' championship:
1. O. Rowland, 235 points ; 2. M. Vaxivière, 185 ; 3. N. De Vries, 116 ; 4. J. Jaafar, 106 ; 5 D. Stoneman, 106.
Classification teams' championship:
1. Fortec, 341 points ; 2. Lotus, 225; 3. DAMS, 222.
Next round: Le Mans, 25-27 September.