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Hartley sidelined in France


Brendon Hartley finished outside the top six for the first time this season in the fifth round of the 3.5 Renault World Series at Magny Cours in central France at the weekend

The New Zealander was taken out on the first lap of the wet Saturday race and retired from the Sunday race after a troubled run.

Going into the two French races that marked the half way mark in the championship, Hartley was fourth overall in the WSR standing but has now slipped to seventh. He started eighth for the Saturday race, only to be hit by Stefan Coletti at the hairpin on the first lap.

Hartley retired his Red Bull car at the side of the track with a damaged steering arm while Coletti survived to finish third behind Russian driver Mikhail Aleshin and Argentinian Esteban Guerrieri.

The second Formula Renault 3.5 race was disrupted by rain showers and penalties. Frenchman Nathanael Berthon battled the elements and claimed his first victory in the class despite a comeback by Tech 1 Racing's Daniel Ricciardo at the end of the race. In fourth, Carlin's Mikhail Aleshin retains the championship lead.

While the early Sunday morning weather was far from ideal, the track was completely dry by the time the drivers started the second qualifying session. Australia's Daniel Ricciardo claimed his fourth pole position of the season ahead of Berthon and Aleshin.

As the drivers lined up on the grid for the second race of the weekend there was a rain shower and the start was delayed. Some drivers opted for slicks, as did the drivers on the front row, while other opted for wet weather tyres. Hartley and Daniil Move both stalled and were forced to start from the pits.

With the race underway, slicks appeared to be the better option with Ricciardo leading the first lap ahead of Berthon, Aleshin, Filip Salaquarda and Guerrieri.  However after the rain stopped, there were a deluge of Drive Through penalties. Red Bull team mates Hartley and Ricciardo; Guerrieri, Albert Costa, Move and Jon Lancaster were all given penalties for changed their tyres after the 5 minute pre start warning.

The drivers took their penalties while those still running wet tyres pitted to change onto slicks. Meanwhile, all alone up front, Berthon and Aleshin chose to pit early to change tyres.

With all the mandatory tire changes completed, Berthon led Aleshin. Filip Salaquarda was third from Ricciardo and Albert Costa.

The Australian put in several fast laps in an attempt to catch the Czech. A new rain shower broke over the track and Ricciardo took advantage of it to pass Salaquarda for third.

By this point, Mikahil Aleshin was right behind the leader, Berthon, but the Russian was caught out by the damp track and ended up in the gravel at the hairpin.

Ricciardo found himself in second place, just two seconds behind the leader.  He set fastest lap and closed to be just 0.2 sec behind the winner at the finish. Salaquarda was third and Aleshin, recovered from his incident, fourth.

Hartley qualified 13th and ran as high as eighth place on lap six before his drive through penalty and mandatory tyre stop. He made two more pit stops before retiring from the race at the end of lap 22.



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