Esteban Gutierrez claimed a lights-to-flag victory in the GP2 sprint race at the Hungaroring to score his third win of the year.
The Mexican started from the reverse grid pole position and made a good start to retain his lead ahead of Nathanael Berthon. The Frenchman was still close behind at the halfway stage of the 28 lap race, but the Lotus GP driver opened up a 3.5 second lead by the finish.
“It was very enjoyable, for sure, but it’s never easy,” said Gutierrez afterwards. “There’s a lot behind it, a lot of preparation from the team and a lot of people around, and this has to be considered as part of the win.
“Basically it was a race where I had to take care of the tyres a lot, and to avoid having a lot of degradation at the end: I had to find the best way to manage everything at the beginning of the race, at the middle, and in the end I just tried to save some fuel because we wanted to make sure that we get along with the weight very easily.”
The result gave series rookie Berthon his second podium finish of the year.
“For the team and for me, it was great,” said the Racing Engineering driver. “We had a very good pace compared to everybody, although Gutierrez was pretty quick today. Everything started at the first corner: if I could catch him at the start I think it could have been another story, but it’s like this. I tried to do my best today, the car was good, and I could manage to stay in second place.”
Giedo van der Garde lacked the pace of the front pair as he was forced to try and make a set of the supersoft tyres last the duration of the race. He had points leader Luiz Razia on his tail until the Brazilian got past with eight laps to go.
“It was a very good weekend, 25 points, which means a very good weekend for me,” said Razia. “When you average 25 points a weekend, this is what matters on the championship points situation. Yesterday it was crucial to get a good start and I did, P3 yesterday was very difficult and today another difficult race actually: the start again was very good, I was able to pull another 2 cars at the start, and then I had a good first 3 laps but van der Garde still had some tyres left on the opening laps.
“I waited a little bit because I knew the super softs would go away, and when I did overtake him it was not the right moment because he was not struggling so much, but it was crucial to overtake him at that moment because I could open a gap to Palmer, who was putting pressure on me for all the race.”
Jolyon Palmer was the next man to look for a way by the Dutchman, but ran too deep into turn one. Davide Valsecchi got a run on the Brit and slipped past into turn four. The Italian then made a brave move at the same point on the next lap to take fourth from van der Garde, with Palmer following him through and back into fifth with Stefano Coletti taking sixth a couple of corners later.
Van der Garde lost another bunch of places on the following lap to drop to tenth. James Calado then caught and passed Coletti to finish sixth, right on Palmer's tail. Coletti fell into the clutches of Felipe Nasr and Rio Haryanto, with the Indonesian taking both at turn one at the start of the last lap to finish seventh. He was followed through by Nasr, who took the final point in eighth after starting from the back row of the grid.
Behind Coletti and van der Garde, feature race winner Max Chilton finished down in 11th after also having to run the supersofts. Simon Trummer was set to finish right behind him in 12th but was rear-ended by Sergio Canamasas after getting a little sideways on the kerb coming out of the final corner. The Swiss driver went head-first into the barrier on the left-hand-side before crossing the finish line just 0.018s behind Canamasas.
Fabio Leimer was 14th after losing a number of places when he ran wide in the middle of the race. Julian Leal was 15th, ahead of Rodolfo Gonzalez, Josef Kral and Nigel Melker. Daniel De Jong beat Raapx teammate Ricardo Teixeira to 19th, with Stephane Richelmi, Giancarlo Serenelli and Victor Guerin completing the finishers on the lead lap. Fabio Onidi finished a lap down in 24th after a couple of collisions. The first came with Marcus Ericsson, contact that put the Swede out of the race and that Onidi was later handed a ten-place grid penalty for. He was later hit by Johnny Cecotto which caused both to spin, and the Venezuelan to retire on the spot.
Razia leads Valsecchi by seven points going into the break before Spa, which is the first of three race weekends in September that end the season. Gutierrez is a further 39 points behind.