New Formula Renault 3.5 champion Robin Frijns believes his title-deciding crash with Jules Bianchi was a racing incident.
The top two in the championship clashed on lap 21 of the season finale, as Frijns tried to re-pass Bianchi at Turn 4 after the Ferrari junior had taken fourth place from him at the start of the lap. The contact sent Bianchi into the gravel and out of the race, while Frijns – who was ahead in the points going into the decider – continued to finish seventh.
The Dutchman was eventually handed a 25-second penalty after more than three hours of deliberation by the stewards post-race, but it did not affect his title.
"For me it was just a normal overtaking maneuver," Frijns insisted. "Of course, it was for a championship, and I went for it. I was there.
"It's not like I fired him off. If I wanted to do that I just wouldn't brake. That wasn't the case; I was there, trying to make a pass. It was after the apex that we hit, and we were side by side."
Frijns added that he could not have expected to be fighting for the title with drivers as experienced as Bianchi after stepping out of Formula Renault 2.0, where he won the prestigious Eurocup title last year.
"When I saw the names on the entry list at the start of the season, there were so many guys who have won championships or always been at the front," he said. "I never expected to win the title. I was thinking I would be happy just to make the top five. But I started winning from the beginning, and when you find yourself in a position to fight for the championship you have to go for it.