Absolute Racing driver Alessio Picariello (22) of Belgium made a perfect weekend in Shanghai at the Formula Masters China Series (FMCS) 2015 season finale with two lights-to-flag victories in Races 17 and 18 at the Shanghai International Circuit. Picariello closed out the season with five straight victories, finishing fourth in the Drivers Classification, despite only joining FMCS mid-season.
The final two races of the 2015 season showcased the competitiveness of China and the region’s leading international junior single-seater championship. While Picariello stood atop the podium in both races, the fledging talents piled on the pressure for two exciting final races. Teammate Oliver Askew (18) of the United States was second in Race 17 with Australian Nicholas Rowe (17) of Cebu Pacific Air by KCMG rounding out the podium. In Race 18, FMCS 2015 Champion Martin Rump (19) of Cebu Pacific Air by KCMG finished second, with Australian Jake Parsons of Meritus.GP (20) returning to the podium after a tough weekend.
“Race 18 was the hardest race of the weekend for me as having the Safety Car wasn’t easy – I had to start each time again from zero,” said Picariello. “Martin was very strong in this race. I spent the whole time on the straight looking in my mirrors to see if he was coming! We were really close from the lap times and it was a great race. The goal this weekend was to win three races and I’m very happy to have achieved that. When I came to KL for my first FMCS race, we didn’t have so much experience – the team was new to FMCS and I hadn’t been in a car for a long time. What’s nice is from there, we kept improving and to finish fourth in the championship after three weekends is great.”
While Estonian Rump sealed the championship title in Zhuhai last month, Parsons wrapped up second place in the overall Drivers Classification in the final race of the season, with fellow Australian Rowe finishing third in his debut FMCS season. Picariello is fourth overall, with Australian Aidan Read (16) of Eurasia Motorsport rounding out the top five. Star Racing Academy (SRA) and Cebu Pacific Air by KCMG driver Yuan Bo won the FMCS Best Chinese Driver Trophy for the second time, with his strong performance this weekend in Shanghai allowing him to overtake rival and fellow SRA driver Jeffrey Ye in the trophy standings. With Rump and Rowe’s strong seasons, Cebu Pacific Air by KCMG was the top FMCS team for the second straight year.
Drama stared early in the morning’s Race 17, which started behind the Safety Car due to part of the track surface on the grid having deteriorated. When racing began, Picariello led from teammate Askew, with Rump and Rowe following close behind. Rowe began to close in on Rump and got past his team mate on Lap 3, before setting his sights on Askew. While Rowe would get close, Askew was able to stay in front, with the Absolute Racing pair then pulling away from the rest of the field.
Mid-way through the field, SRA drivers Sean Zheng (17), Ye and Yuan were locked in a close battle. Yuan would get past Ye on Lap 3, with Ye spinning a lap later and falling to the back of the grid. Zheng would finish sixth, just behind Read in fifth place, for his best finish of the weekend. Meritus.GP team mates Daniel Woodroof (19) and Parsons were also battling for positions, although Parsons was not able to get past the Malaysian driver.
In Race 18, Picariello lined up on the front row with rival Rump alongside, both determined to take the final race win of the 2015 season. Behind them was Parsons, who was also eager for redemption, and Askew. A confident Picariello led the field from pole, with Rump and Parsons close behind. However, the Safety Car was soon called out, bringing the field together and forcing Picariello to again fend off a hard-charging Rump. When racing resumed on Lap 4, Picariello did just that and held the lead. However on that same lap, Rowe spun, bringing out the Safety Car for a second time.
Picariello was forced to again be wheel-perfect when racing resumed on Lap 7, successfully holding off Rump and Parsons. Rump, however, continued to pile on the pressure, while Parsons was forced to defend against a fast-approaching Read. In the closing stages of the race, Picariello and Rump began to pull away from the rest of the field, with Picariello ultimately taking the chequered flag to conclude a perfect weekend in Shanghai. With Ye having spun early in the race, Yuan’s seventh-place finish allowed him to take first place in the FMCS Best Chinese Driver Trophy standings.
“Congratulations to all of our drivers for a fantastic weekend of racing to close out what has been an intensely competitive season,” said Dominic Lyncker, Head of Group Sports Car, Motorsport and Car Culture, Volkswagen Group (China). “With young talents from across China, Asia, Europe, Australia, South Africa and the United States, the championship has, in just its third season, proven its efficacy and has established itself as a credible international benchmark. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our drivers, teams and partners for a great season.”
Results – Race 17
|1||6||Alessio PICARIELLO/BEL||Absolute Racing||14:25.632|
|2||5||Oliver ASKEW/USA||Absolute Racing||+3.861|
|3||2||Nicholas ROWE/AUS||Cebu Pacific Air by KCMG||+6.411|
|4||4||Martin RUMP/EST||Cebu Pacific Air by KCMG||+6.719|
|5||24||Aidan READ/AUS||Eurasia Motorsport||+7.452|
|6||3||Sean ZHENG/CHN||Cebu Pacific Air by KCMG||+9.629|
|7||8||YUAN Bo/CHN||Cebu Pacific Air by KCMG||+11.469|
|10||49||Matthew SWANEPOEL/RSA||Arrows Racing||+15.736|
|11||39||Tomoki TAKAHASHI/JPN||Super License||+19.005|
|12||1||Jeffrey YE/CHN||Cebu Pacific Air by KCMG||+25.149|
|13||55||Takashi HATA/JPN||Super License||+26.480|
|DNF||17||HONG Shi Jie/CHN||Super License||—|
|DNF||7||KIM Jeong Tae/KOR||Eurasia Motorsport||—|
Fastest Lap: Alessio Picariello/ Absolute Racing/ 2:07.876