The Status Grand Prix team took their second one-two finish of the season at the Hungaroring, with Richie Stanaway taking his second victory of the year ahead of Nick Yelloly. Stanaway claimed more points in race two on Sunday, while Yelloly’s unbroken run of points finishes in 2014 came to an end down in eleventh. Alfonso Celis Jr got more valuable experience and finished both races while making some good overtaking moves.
Stanaway took his maiden GP3 Series pole position on Saturday morning, beating the Carlin of Alex Lynn by the smallest of margins. The Kiwi was delighted to qualify up front, especially at Hungary where overtaking is so difficult.
“I’m really happy to get my first GP3 pole position, and also for the team who did a great job with the car,” said Stanaway. “It’s good to bounce back from a difficult Hockenheim weekend. Qualifying is so vital for the race.”
He made a good start to hold onto the lead into the first corner on Saturday afternoon, but was on the defensive for much of the race from the Arden International of Romanian Robert Visoiu. It was only in the final few laps when a mistake by Stanaway ran Visoiu wide at the chicane that saw the New Zealander safely home for the win.
“That was one of the hardest races of my life,” admitted Stanaway. “I got a good start and did enough to get the lead. From then onwards I tried to manage the tyres, and stay in front of Robert with a small gap, thinking his tyres would go off. But he kept pressing and pressing, and in the end it was me getting some tyre degradation, which made it really tough.
“My right-hand mirror came off, though, and that made it hard to defend because I didn’t want to touch Robert – but when he went off at the chicane it gave me enough of a buffer to see it home. There’s no feeling like winning, and this is great for me and the team in championship terms.”
Starting eighth in race two, he kept his position into the first corner, and managed to overtake the Carlin of Emil Bernstorff around the opening lap, before taking sixth off Marussia Manor Racing’s Dean Stoneman on lap three. He was happy to leave Hungary back in the championship hunt in second position, 31 points adrift of leader Lynn.
“I had a pretty good opening lap and got past Bernstorff,” said a happy Stanaway. “Then I got a run on Stoneman and got past him as well – that was a pretty good overtaking move. Then all I had to do was manage the tyres and consolidate sixth place, especially as most people who have good Saturdays in GP3 have bad Sundays! We’re back in the championship hunt now, so we need every single point we can get.”
Yelloly qualified third for race one, and retained his position into the first corner despite falling behind Visoiu, after he managed to pass the slow-starting Lynn. He was on course for third place but was able to capitalise on Visoiu’s off track excursion to take second for a Status Grand Prix 1-2.
“I thought I got a good start and then saw the flying trio of Arden cars in the mirror,” exclaimed Yelloly. “I got past Alex but Robert came past me – from there I just needed to make sure I had third consolidated, before trying to catch Richie and Robert, but the speed wasn’t quite there.
“Both Richie and I struggled a little more with the tyres than we expected, but when Robert went off I was straight onto the opportunity. Another 1-2 result is reward for Status, and it’s great to do it in Race 1.”
Unfortunately, starting seventh for race two, he made a mistake into turn 2 on the opening lap and dropped to eleventh, and could not make up any positions on a track notoriously difficult to overtake on, despite being on the end of the battle for the final point in eighth.
“Maybe I was a bit too ambitious on the first lap and got it wrong a bit,” said Yelloly. “Also, we tried something on the car and it wasn’t quite right – but that was worth doing from a fourth-row start with not much to lose. It’s not the end of the world – we got some good points yesterday and I’m close to third in the standings. We improved our position over the weekend and now we can work hard in the break to put it on pole at Spa.”
The team’s third driver Celis Jr was unfortunately to spin during qualifying that saw him start in twenty-second position. He made up four places on the opening lap before overtaking Luis Sa Silva of Carlin for sixteenth, a position he would hold until the end.
“After a difficult qualifying that was one of the best races of my life,” said Celis Jr. “I got a good start and passed three cars, and then got a couple more into the first two turns. From there I battled past Luis Sa Silva and kept with the midfield train. I got valuable laps and have a good chance to improve again tomorrow in the second race of the weekend.”
Unfortunately the young Mexican stalled at the start of race two, but fought back to finish twenty-second, after a good battle with the Marussia Manor Racing driver Ryan Cullen and Hilmer Motorsport driver Nelson Mason.
“That was a tough race,” described Celis Jr. “I stalled at the beginning and went to the back, and it’s so difficult to overtake at all here. I just gained a couple of places on the opening laps and that was pretty much it. The race was already over for me when I stalled, so we’ll move forward and learn from the weekend.”