Will Palmer picked up his first Formula Renault win in the first race of the Eurocup finale at Estoril after race-long leader Lando Norris and a charging Max Defourny clashed on the last lap.
In his Formula Renault swansong having already claimed the Eurocup and NEC titles, Norris controlled much of the race after making a good start from pole position – which he claimed by 1.3 seconds in a wet session – despite having to deal with two safety car restarts. With conditions damp but dry enough for slicks, the race was littered with spins.
Palmer qualified second and maintained that through the first half of the race ahead of R-ace GP team-mate Marcus Armstrong, the 16-year-old New Zealander enjoying a great third start in a Formula Renault car to climb from sixth to third off the line.
In another R-ace GP car, Defourny had qualified down in 11th place but made great strides, passing his rival for the runner-up position Dorian Boccolacci to sit fourth at the second restart.
There, he got a run on Armstrong, but as the Kiwi defended he also breezed past a cautious Palmer under braking, only for the Briton to reclaim the place via a cutback.
Defourny then went down the inside of Armstrong at Turn 2 but slid as he did so, forcing Armstrong wide and off the road in avoidance.
The Belgian quickly passed Palmer and caught Norris, but found the Josef Kaufmann Racing driver harder to pass than the rest.
His chance came when Norris got sideways through the final corner at the end of the penultimate lap, forcing him to get defensive down the pit straight.
Norris moved to cover the inside but Defourny squeezed his way alongside next to the pit wall and – occupying the inside line – looked to have the move complete as they headed into the braking zone.
Norris however was unwilling to concede his race-long lead, and attempted to drive back around the outside of his rival at Turn 1.
They collided, with Norris being spun around into the run-off and Defourny pulling off with deranged suspension once Palmer had nipped past.
Palmer was six seconds clear of Hugo de Sadeleer, joined on the podium by fellow seventh-row starter Alex Peroni, who finished a shock third on his first start in a Formula Renault race with the TS Corse team (the Australian is on course to win the V de V Single-Seater title at the Portuguese circuit in a fortnight).
Robert Shwartzman actually finished third on the road, but a penalty for overtaking under the safety car left him 13th.
Boccolacci lost ground to a spin but finished fourth, and with Peroni a wildcard he gets 15 points to put himself 21 in front of Harrison Scott – who ended up fifth from 17th on the grid – and 27.5 points in front of Defourny with 25 left up for grabs.
Sacha Fenestraz was challenging Armstrong for third early on when he spun before recovering to sixth. Armstrong was eighth behind Bruno Baptista and ahead of Force India protege Jehan Daruvala, who was 20th on the grid and went off through the gravel on the first lap.
UPDATE: Shwartzman was reinstated to third after his time penalty was cancelled because his overtaking under the safety car was found to be due to a mechanical issue for the car ahead