Sven Müller swept his Lechner Racing run Porsche Mobil1 Supercup machine from second on the grid straight into the lead of round five of the 2016 season on Sunday morning, besting the surprise pole-sitter Robert Lukas (FÖRCH Racing by Lukas Motorsport) to turn one, and never looking back at the Hungaroring.
This was Müller’s third win on the bounce, at the venue where his belated and ultimately failed bid for the 2015 crown began but a year ago. One year on and Müller is finally living up to his preseason favourite status. After another superb performance in 2016, he now holds the series lead. He now holds the momentum. He now holds the key.
Matteo Cairoli had held the key. It was knocked out his hand by an exclusion in Austria but arguably his performance yesterday morning was the most concerning of his season to date. He qualified third, and then slipped back to seventh. His FACH Auto Tech teammate Philipp Frommenwiler had the measure of him and finished fifth, despite being shaded by the Italian all season long.
Perhaps his victories in Barcelona and Monaco set the bar a tad too high, but he looked so imperious, that the word unstoppable was not inappropriate. He had finished fourth in Austria pre-exclusion and was still third at Silverstone. Seventh a definite low-point then, what is more concerning is the gradual loss of pace as the season has progressed. Or maybe his rivals have just caught up. Either way, Cairoli must strike back at Hockenheim. He needs to assert his authority if he is to take the fight to Müller.
Mathieu Jaminet was going to have a bad weekend in Hungary from the second his Martinet by Almeras car was thrown out of qualifying for a technical infringement. He then proceeded to make his own weekend even worse. On the run to turn one he hooked a wheel over the curbing and then caused the largest Supercup smash this season, turning Chris Bauer’s FÖRCH Racing machine around, who was then helpless as he collided with Paul Rees (MOMO-Megatron Team PARTRAX) and the Swedish guest participant Lucas Sundahl. Half of the race duration was spent clearing up the subsequent mess.
However, the implications could be somewhat harder to clear-up for Jaminet. It would be of little surprise if he was to receive a grid-penalty for his mistake. A non-score and then a grid-drop does not a championship challenge make.
So it is Müller with an advantage of seventeen points over Jaminet, with Cairoli only one point further back. What was a three horse race, was starting to look like a two horse race post-Silverstone. It is now looking all the more like a one-horse demonstration. Hockenheim could turn the title race on its head, or further settle the shape of this year’s chase. It will be pivotal for our three stars, Müller with the momentum, Jaminet needing to recover and Cairoli on the hunt for some pace. All to play for, but for how much longer?