ANALYSIS: FIA Formula 2 – Hungaroring – Heating Up For The Holidays

Alexander Albon - DAMS - Hungary
Credit: Zak Mauger / FIA Formula 2

Nyck de Vries and Alexander Albon head into the summer holidays with a smile on their faces after clinching victories in the FIA Formula 2 championship at Hungary.

The Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing driver won the feature race in a wet to dry race, passing Lando Norris in the latter stage of the race. Norris was the stronger driver in the wet conditions, having clawing his way to the lead of the race. But in the dry, de Vries was able to catch the Carlin Motorsport driver and pass him down the chicane. The Dutch driver closed down Norris by producing incredible lap times, nearly one and half seconds faster than the British driver.

In the sprint race, it was DAMS‘ Albon who clinched victory, thanks to tactical tyre usage to clinch the win away from Campos Vexatec Racing‘s Luca Ghiotto. Ghiotto took the lead of the race on the opening lap after a lightning start from fourth of the grid. The Italian was on course to take his first win of the season, but Albon made a late assault on the Campos and snitched the lead away from him with a few laps to go.

Norris saw his championship aspirations get back on track with a second place in the feature race and fourth place in the sprint race. With the help of George Russell only scoring one point in Budapest, the Carlin driver is now only 12 points away heading into Belgium. A win was certainly on the cards after a mesmerising performance in the wet to take the lead of the race. But in the dry, de Vries ate away his lead and eventually passing Norris at the chicane for the win. Whilst Norris claimed an important second place as Russell retired, Norris wasn’t too happy to lose the win to his fellow McLaren junior compatriot.

Nyck de Vries - Lando Norris - Hungary Podium
McLaren Junior drivers Nyck de Vries and Lando Norris finished 1-2 in the feature race. Credit: Zak Mauger / FIA Formula 2

Prema’s de Vries’ effort over the weekend saw him enter back into the top five of the championship, tied with Artem Markelov on 114 points. The Dutch driver was one of the favourites to win around the Hungaroring, having a strong track record here with two third places in 2017 and qualifying third for the feature race. Having been second quickest in practice and third in qualifying, it was clear de Vries was one of the quickest drivers around Budapest and he used that to eliminate a sixteen second gap to Norris. In the sprint race, it was a quiet race for de Vries as he flirted with the top points paying positions but couldn’t repeat the pace like in the feature race. He was running in fifth before a photo finish to the line against BWT Arden‘s Nirei Fukuzumi saw him claim sixth.

Albon and DAMS suffered a dreadful qualifying on Friday where the Anglo-Thai driver qualified down in thirteenth place, with team-mate Nicholas Latifi in fourteenth. But good pace throughout the feature race saw him climb into the points and put himself in a good spot to recover from a bad qualifying. At the start, he was quick to dispatch Markelov and Sergio Sette Câmara at the line to put himself in second place, behind Ghiotto. Throughout the race, Albon followed the leading Campos closely but didn’t make his move until the moment the Italian started to struggle with his tyres. Once he made his pounce down at Turn 1 around the outside of the Campos, Albon took the lead with five laps of the race remaining to capture his third win of the season and leaves him eighteen points away from Norris, thirty away from Russell in the championship.

Russell’s weekend was ruined due to a clutch problem at the beginning of the feature race, meaning he started the race from the pit lane and lost his fourth place grid slot. His race ended early on Saturday when he retired on Lap 11 as he was running near the back of the field. In the sprint race however, Russell came back through the field to clinch one point going into the summer break. It may not be the perfect weekend for the ART Grand Prix driver, with his once thirty seven point deficit now down to twelve, but Russell will be hoping to bounce back after the summer break.

George Russell - ART Grand Prix - Hungary - Sprint Race
Championship leader George Russell picked up one point throughout the weekend. Credit: Zak Mauger / FIA Formula 2

Antonio Fuoco and Sette Câmara had two clashes that impacted their races in Budapest. The pair were battling for the final podium spot in the feature race against Norris when on the final lap, Câmara made contact with the rear of Fuoco’s Charouz Racing System‘s car in a last attempt to clinch a podium spot. Fuoco luckily was able to get the car going again and cross the line in fourth, with the stewards immediately handing a penalty to Câmara for the incident, which sent him down to seventh in the feature race. Their second clash came in the sprint race after the virtual safety car, when Fuoco hit the rear of Câmara, damaging the Italian’s front wing. His race ended their as he pitted for a new nose which sent him a lap down, as well as getting a penalty for speeding in the pit lane. Fuoco failed to serve his penalty when pitting again and as a result, will get a three place grid drop for Belgium

Russell’s team-mate Jack Aitken ended his point drought in Hungary with a fourth place result in the feature race. The weekend started strong for Aitken, narrowly missing out on pole position after Sette Câmara set the fastest time within the dying moments of the session. A strong display in the feature race saw him clinch fourth place. The sprint race ended with no points however, after being overtaken by his team-mate, who was climbing up through the field after starting last.

Alessio Lorandi made his Formula 2 debut in Budapest, replacing the banned Santino Ferrucci for Trident. It was going to be a tricky task to get suited to the new F2 machinery in a weekend but the Italian started well with the eighteenth fastest time in practice and seventeenth fastest in qualifying. For the feature race, he kept his car clean and finished his first F2 race in fourteenth. But for the sprint race, his race ended on the opening lap as a collision with Roy Nissany and Ralph Boschung and Turn 2 saw the Italian end his weekend early.

With the series now on it’s holidays and four rounds remaining, the championship is starting to heat up with Norris, Albon and de Vries all gaining to championship leader Russell. The series will head to the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit next time in August as the series will near its conclusion.

Lando Norris - Carlin - Hungary Grid
Lando Norris is now 12 points away from leader George Russell going into the summer break. Credit: Joe Portlock / FIA Formula 2