Stoffel Vandoorne claimed victory in the opening round of the Formula Renault 3.5 season at Monza.
Vandoorne, making his debut in the series, started the race from pole position and kept clear of the rest of the pack during a frantic start to establish a comfortable lead.
The McLaren junior driver was rapidly being reeled in by pre-season favourite Antonio Felix da Costa, who had worked his way through from fourth on the grid to emerge as Vandoorne’s main challenger.
But da Costa speared off of the circuit under braking for Turn 1 with a suspected puncture, eliminating the Portuguese driver from the race.
“That’s racing, some things are out of your hands,” said the Red Bull junior driver after the race.
“I’m pretty sure it would have been P1,” he added.
Da Costa’s exit elevated another McLaren young driver Kevin Magnussen to second place. Magnussen slowly closed in on Vandoorne, who was suffering from a flat spot on his front left tyre, but was still seven seconds behind the Belgian at the finish.
ISR’s Christopher Zanella completed the podium.