Maxwell Enjoys Strong Season Opener at Paul Ricard
By Megan Cantle
Australian Thomas Maxwell has come away from the 2018 Formula Renault Eurocup season opener in eighth place in the championship after two impressive drives.
27 talented young drivers lined-up for the season’s opening weekend at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France and points in both races means that Maxwell now sits well within the top ten in the standings.
Starting from twentieth on the grid in race one wasn’t ideal, but a stunning start and first lap saw Maxwell pass nine cars to take eleventh place. The Australian was able to maintain this position without difficulty until half way through the race, where he began to come under pressure from R-ace GP’s Victor Martins, who had dropped down the grid after a poor start.
The two drivers battled for eleventh throughout the latter stages of the race, but ultimately, Martins could find no way past Maxwell’s strong defending. Crossing the line just out of the points, Maxwell was later promoted to tenth position after Aleksandr Vartanyan was awarded a penalty.
The JD Motorsport driver started Sunday’s race from eighth on the grid and maintained this position away from the line. He had good battles with Richard Verschoor throughout the early stages but dropped back behind Alexander Smolyar to ninth.
However, during a long safety car period, third placed Logan Sargeant was forced to retire, promoting Maxwell back up into eighth. He was also able to capitalise and move up the order when Smolyar broke-down in the last few laps, meaning that he crossed the finish line in a brilliant seventh place. Post-race, Verschoor was penalised for leaving the track and gaining an advantage, which boosted Maxwell up into sixth.
“Very happy to get the season started off with some solid results,” commented Maxwell. “It was good to be back in the car and racing again.
“It was a very positive weekend for both me and the team. We consistently showed good pace in all of the sessions and I felt I had the car underneath me to push on.
“Having that first year under your belt makes a big difference. Being able to start off with confidence and building from everything last year is a turning point.”
The championship next heads to the famous Autodromo Nazionale Monza circuit this weekend, where Maxwell scored his best finish of the 2017 season, finishing fifth.