GP2: Rounds 13/14 – Hungaroring, Hungary – Jul 31/Aug 1

Feature race

The start of the feature race proved problematic to say the least, with frustration turning into a nasty turn 1 accident that resulted in a rapid red flag once proceedings had managed to get briefly underway.

The grid lost iSport’s Davide Valsecchi on the formation lap when his car failed to get underway; and then on the first start attempt, Adrian Zaugg also stalled and triggered an extra formation lap. Then on the second start attempt it was Sam Bird signalling frantically that he had lost power, and the race was thwarted once again. Bird would have to start the race from the pit lane behind Valsecchi and Zaugg.

Moreover, it had now lost its entire front row line-up, meaning that Oliver Turvey and Pastor Maldonardo inherited the top two positions for the third start attempt, which finally got things underway. Turvey had a poor getaway and fell to fifth, releasing Maldonardo to storm away at the front ahead of Christian Vietoris, Sergio Perez and Giedo van der Garde.

But the action was short-lived, for on the exit of turn 1 ART driver Jules Bianchi hit the rear of Giacomo Ricci, ran wide and spun across the track. His nose was clipped by Dani Clos, but the more serious impact came when Ho-Pin Tung’s DAMS car hit the stationary Bianchi head-on, and then Arden’s Rodolfo Gonzalez arrived at the scene of the accident and rear-ended Tung.

Notwithstanding the multi-car blockage on the track, the severity of the accident was immediately apparent and the stewards threw the red flag to initiate immediate extraction and medical procedures, with both Bianchi and Tung needing to be airlifted to hospital: Tung’s overnight stay proved purely precautionary and he was described as not being seriously injured, but Bianchi’s condition was more serious with a diagnosis of a fractured second lumbar vertebra that will sideline him from racing for “quite a long time” according to a statement from Ferrari, who run the Driving Academy of which Bianchi is a member.

After a lengthy delay, Maldonardo led the restart and pulled out a predictably impressive lead of some 10s, opting to stay out longer than most of the runners before taking his mandatory pit stop for new tyres despite the risk of a safety car. The full course caution did indeed arrive on lap 24 – after Maldonardo’s stop – when Alberto Valerio’s ongoing battle with Luiz Razia ended up hurling Valerio over Razia’s tyres and into the wall at the final corner which required a safety car to tidy up.

Maldonardo’s restart was made easy by having the lapped traffic of Vlado Arabadjiev getting a horrible restart between himself and Vietoris in second place, resulting in getting an almost 3s jump on the first lap after the restart alone, and by the end of the race Maldonardo’s lead was back out to nearly 6s. Vietoris managed to hold on to second despite repeated lunges from Perez in third, the last of which at the start of the final lap caused the Mexican to run wide and nearly lose the last podium position to Oliver Turvey, who had already recovered fourth from van der Garde just before the safety car period after van der Garde had run wide and all but invited the Briton through.

Luckless polesitter Sam Bird battled his way up from the pit lane start up to 13th place with some nice moves on fresher rubber late in the race on Adrian Zaugg and Luca Fillipi; but more impressive was Davide Valsecchi, who also started from the pit lane and who only narrowly missed out on claiming eighth place which would have not only given him the last points position but which would have meant pole position for the sprint race on Sunday. Instead, the sprint front row will be an all-DRP affair with Michael Herck finishing seventh and Jerome d’Ambrosio holding on to that key eighth spot.

Feature race result

Pos  Driver            Team                    Time
 1.  Pastor Maldonado  Rapax                   1h18:45.734
 2.  C.Vietoris        Racing Engineering      + 5.865
 3.  Sergio Perez      Barwa Addax Team        + 6.511
 4.  Oliver Turvey     iSport International    + 7.109
 5.  G.van der Garde   Barwa Addax Team        + 10.225
 6.  J.D'Ambrosio      DAMS                    + 12.044
 7.  Michael Herck     DPR                     + 12.487
 8.  Giacomo Ricci     DPR                     + 12.941
 9.  Davide Valsecchi  iSport International    + 13.538
10.  Luiz Razia        Rapax                   + 14.381
11.  Charles Pic       Arden International     + 18.640
12.  Marcus Ericsson   Super Nova Racing       + 21.705
13.  Sam Bird          ART Grand Prix          + 25.344
14.  Luca Filippi      Super Nova Racing       + 28.060
15.  Adrian Zaugg      Trident Racing          + 29.716
16.  Daniel Clos       Racing Engineering      + 30.498
17.  Max Chilton       Ocean Racing Technology + 32.154
18.  Vlado Arabadjiev  Scuderia Coloni         + 1 Lap

Retirements:

Driver           Team                    Laps
Alberto Valerio  Scuderia Coloni         24
Fabio Leimer     Ocean Racing Technology 14
J.Cecotto Jr.    Trident Racing          9
Jules Bianchi    ART Grand Prix          0
Ho-Pin Tung      DAMS                    0
Rodolfo Gonzalez Arden International     0

Sprint race

After the problems getting the feature race started on Saturday, the beginning of the sprint race was relatively trouble-free with only one car – that of front row man Michael Herck – having trouble getting away on the formation lap. Herck ended up having to start from the pit lane instead.

The start was hard fought, with no one able to make a clean break; and as a result the top six drivers – Giacomo Ricci, Jerome D’Ambrosio, Giedo van der Garde, Christian Vietoris, Sergio Perez and Davide Valsecchi – condensed into two three-wide battles that left the lead very much up for grabs. Finally it was polesitter Ricci who squeezed in front, and once he got the clean air he gradually eased away from his rivals through the race to build up a comfortable, error-free victory – his first in GP2, and DPR’s first since Germany 2005.

With the field incredibly tightly packed early on and everyone at high risk of tripping over one another, there was inevitably trouble further back on lap 2 when Perez and Valsecchi tangled and Perez spun, his Barwa Addax car coming to a rest side-on in the middle of the track on the exit of a tight right hander. Most cars were able to take avoiding action, but Luiz Razia clipped the back of Perez’ car and demolished his own left rear suspension; Pastor Maldonardo was also unsighted and caught out by the traffic ahead slowing in response to Perez’ car, and ended up running into the back of Sam Bird. Maldonardo’s front wing was damaged in the collision, and when he finally came into the pits after being black flagged for ignoring stewards’ instructions to come in, it seemed that he decided that it was time to call it a day, there being no prospect of points and his championship lead already so large.

Bird himself – who had a fantastic start to leap up from 13th on the grid to reach 7th – continued on for nine laps before his ART suddenly slowed up on track, perhaps as a result of damage sustained in being rear-ended by Maldonardo, and left him crawling back to the pits to retire. It was the first of a number of retirements in quick succession, with Michael Herck also limping back to the pits, and then more sensationally D’Ambrosio slowing from second position at the mid race point and heading to his pit box. The mechanics worked on the car for several minutes but finally conceded defeat.

That left Ricci well in front of Vietoris, with Davide Valsecchi working his way up and overtaking van der Garde in turn 2 of the penultimate lap to claim the final podium position.

As is typical of Hungary there was little opportunity for overtaking for much of the race, although Vlado Arabadjiev put in some nice overtaking moves to dispatch the likes of Max Chilton and Rodolfo Gonzalez to provide much of the racing entertainment in the closing phase of the race.

Sprint race result

Pos Driver            Team                     Time/Gap
1.  Giacomo Ricci     DPR                      42:56.588
2.  C.Vietoris        Racing Engineering       + 7.097
3.  Davide Valsecchi  iSport International     + 16.712
4.  G.van der Garde   Barwa Addax Team         + 19.708
5.  Oliver Turvey     iSport International     + 20.655
6.  Luca Filippi      Super Nova Racing        + 22.383
7.  Daniel Clos       Racing Engineering       + 26.885
8.  Adrian Zaugg      Trident Racing           + 30.078
9.  Charles Pic       Arden International      + 31.327
10. Marcus Ericsson   Super Nova Racing        + 39.394
11. Fabio Leimer      Ocean Racing Technology  + 40.610
12. Alberto Valerio   Scuderia Coloni          + 43.010
13. J.Cecotto Jr.     Trident Racing           + 49.669
14. Vlado Arabadjiev  Scuderia Coloni          + 57.900
15. Rodolfo Gonzalez  Arden International      + 1:10.829
16. Max Chilton       Ocean Racing Technology  + 1:11.873

Retirements

J.D'Ambrosio      DAMS              Lap 12
Sam Bird          ART Grand Prix    Lap 9 
Michael Herck     DPR               Lap 9 
Pastor Maldonado  Rapax             Lap 6 (Disqualified)
Luiz Razia        Rapax             Lap 2 
Sergio Perez      Barwa Addax Team  Lap 2 

Championship standings

Pos Driver            Pts
1.  Pastor Maldonado  77
2.  Sergio Perez      51
3.  Daniel Clos       43
4.  Jules Bianchi     39
5.  G.van der Garde   34
6.  Sam Bird          26
7.  Oliver Turvey     25
8.  Charles Pic       23
9.  Davide Valsecchi  21
10. Luiz Razia        20
11. C.Vietoris        18
12. Giacomo Ricci     16
13. Michael Herck     12
14. Marcus Ericsson   11
15. J.D'Ambrosio      10
16. Fabio Leimer      8 
17. Adrian Zaugg      6 
18. Alberto Valerio   4 
19. J.Cecotto Jr.     3 
20. Luca Filippi      1 
21. Josef Kral        0 
22. Ho-Pin Tung       0 
23. Max Chilton       0 
24. Vlado Arabadjiev  0 
25. Rodolfo Gonzalez  0 
26. Romain Grosjean   0 

Pos Driver                   Pts
1.  Rapax                    97
2.  Barwa Addax Team         85
3.  ART Grand Prix           65
4.  Racing Engineering       61
5.  iSport International     46
6.  DPR                      28
7.  Arden International      23
8.  Super Nova Racing        12
9.  DAMS                     10
10. Trident Racing           9 
11. Ocean Racing Technology  8 
12. Scuderia Coloni          4 
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