The Checkered Flag looks back at the Hungaroring weekend of the Eurocup Formula Renault season, the seventh round of the their ten-round year, while the EuroFormula Open year continued with round seven at Silverstone. The F3 Asian Championship also resumed after a two and a half month gap with their fourth round of five at Shanghai.
Eurocup Formula Renault – Hungaroring
The weather was the only true winner in the Saturday race at the Hungaroring, with the race being suspended after just three laps behind the safety car with conditions felt to be too dangerous for racing.
However, there was still time for drama as championship leader Oscar Piastri crashed out before the race even begun, losing control of his R-ace GP machine on the way to the grid. He was not the only one, with Ugo de Wilde and Brad Benavides doing likewise, with all three missing the start.
Having secured pole position earlier in the day, Victor Martins was declared the winner for MP Motorsport, the Renault Sport Academy driver ending ahead of R-ace GP’s Alexander Smolyar, with Lorenzo Colombo making it a pair of MP Motorsport drivers on the podium in third.
Caio Collet was the leading rookie in fourth for R-ace GP ahead of MP Motorsport’s Amaury Cordeel, with a trio of Arden Motorsport drivers close behind, Frank Bird finishing ahead of Patrik Pasma and Alex Quinn. The top ten was completed by GRS’ Xavier Lloveras and JD Motorsport’s Leonardo Lorandi.
With the race only lasting a total of three laps, only half points were awarded, although this edged Martins twelve and a half points closer to Piastri at the top of the championship standings.
“I think it was right decision to stop the race for safety reasons,” said Martins. “All of us were aquaplaning and I told my engineer as early as the installation lap that it was maybe a little too dangerous.
“You just had to survive that lap actually! With this win I scored 12.5 points but it also prevented me to reclaim 25 from Oscar. I am not totally satisfied and I hope we can have a real race tomorrow!”
Looking to make amends for his pre-race elimination on Saturday, Piastri took pole position for Sunday’s second race in Hungary and duly took his sixth win of the season to extend his advantage at the top of the championship standings.
Piastri held onto the lead at the start from Smolyar, and despite a couple of safety car interventions, the Australian was able to consolidate his position at the front and secure the twenty-five points for victory, 2.833 seconds ahead of his R-ace GP team-mate.
The first safety car was needed before the end of the opening lap to remove the stricken Arden of Bird from the circuit, while a clash between Patrick Schott and Lloveras on lap seven required the safety car to return to the track. However, Piastri judged the restarts to perfection to ensure the win came his way.
Martins completed the podium but fell thirty-seven and a half points behind Piastri in the championship with only three rounds remaining, while Collet claimed fourth place for a second consecutive afternoon ahead of rookie rival Kush Maini of M2 Competition.
Colombo lost further ground in the championship by finishing only sixth ahead of Bhaitech’s Petr Ptácek, with Joao Vieira (JD Motorsport), Lucas Alecco Roy (M2 Competition) and Alex Karkosik (FA Racing by Drivex) completing the points scorers. For Roy and Karkosik it was their first time finishing inside the top ten in Eurocup Formula Renault.
“I really wanted to bounce back after driving through a huge puddle that sent me into the gravel on the installation lap yesterday,” said Piastri. “It began in qualifying, which is always important at this circuit, and I reached my target while also correcting my errors from the day before on this drying track surface.
“Alexander tried everything he could at the start to make it a good fight, but I was able to hold him off and stretch out a small advantage. We saw yesterday that the smallest error can cut into my lead, so we have to keep winning races and be consistently at the front in the final three rounds of the year.”
EuroFormula Open – Silverstone
A number of front running drivers were absent from proceedings at Silverstone, with FIA Formula 2 and FIA Formula 3 races at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza taking precedence for many.
Championship leader Marino Sato was absent, preferring instead to race for Campos Racing in Formula 2, while Liam Lawson, Yuki Tsunoda and Teppei Natori all raced in Formula 3. Jack Doohan was also missing, preferring instead to continue his fight for the Formula 3 Asian Championship.
However, despite the absentees, there were still fourteen drivers at Silverstone, with Motopark responsible for more than a third of them, with Japanese racer Toshiki Oyu, British racer Enaam Ahmed, Red Bull-backed Norwegian Dennis Hauger and German racer Niklas Krütten joining Cameron Das for the British round of the championship.
Oyu was making his first appearance at a European racetrack and stormed to pole position, with the Japanese star converting this into the victory, comfortably maintaining his position at the head of the field. Ahmed made it a Motopark one-two, while Nicolai Kjaergaard completed the podium for Carlin.
Billy Monger, a race winner earlier in the season at Pau, had jumped his Carlin team-mate at the start but found himself passed by Kjaergaard before he defended fourth position from Das. The Briton was able to claim the final place on the rookie podium behind Oyu and Kjaergaard.
Behind Das came Hauger on his debut, with Krütten ending eighth behind Double R Racing’s sole representative for the weekend, Linus Lundqvist. The top ten was completed by Carlin’s Christian Hahn and Fortec Motorsport’s Calan Williams.
Lukas Dunner, the only driver still able to catch championship leader Sato in the standings, had a nightmare Saturday, spinning out at Maggots and damaging his Teo Martin Motorsport machine in the process.
He was an immediate retirement, with his incident also affecting the race of Fortec Motorsport’s Manuel Maldonado, who was forced into avoiding action and into the pits at the end of the lap for a front wing change.
If race one was a sign of Oyu’s talent, race two confirmed him as a star in the making, with the Japanese racer dominating from pole position once more, leading home another Motopark one-two from Ahmed, but this time by 6.017 seconds.
Oyu again took the pole position, breaking the lap record for a EuroFormula Open car in the process for a second consecutive day, before leading every lap to record a second consecutive win. Despite only racing at Silverstone, Oyu is already up to eleventh in the championship standings!
It looked as though Das would claim his best result of the season as he ran second for the majority of the race, but with little only one lap to go, the American would lose his grasp on the place to Monger as the two made contact at the Loop. Das would ultimately drop down to sixth in the final result, while Monger’s own grip on second ended at Brooklands, with Ahmed making his move.
Unfortunately, an outright podium was denied to Monger on the final lap when Kjaergaard again got the better of his team-mate, while Hauger finished fifth ahead of the delayed Das, with Williams seventh ahead of Krütten.
Dunner scored two points for ninth and keeps himself just in contention for the championship, but the Austrian will need a minor miracle now if he is to prevent Sato from becoming the 2019 champion, even if the Japanese racer does not reappear on the grid for the remaining two rounds.
The final point of the weekend went the way of Double R’s Lundqvist, who started the race with a spin after contact with Hahn, with the Carlin driver being forced to retire with steering damage as a result, while Maldonado just missed out on points in eleventh.
“I never expected to come here to Silverstone and be so successful,” said Oyu, who is a Honda junior driver. “I enjoyed tremendously the experience and thank everybody who supported me in this venture.”
Formula 3 Asian Championship – Shanghai International Circuit
After a long break, the Formula 3 Asian Championship resumed at the Shanghai International Circuit, and Ukyo Sasahara was a dominant victor in the first race at the home venue of the Chinese Grand Prix.
Racing for Hitech Grand Prix, Sasahara led away from pole position and was untouchable throughout, while Daniel Cao drove a superb race to claim second for Absolute Racing, only 1.252 seconds behind Sasahara after being given breathing space by Jack Doohan and Brendon Leitch battling for the final spot on the podium.
Leitch, racing for BlackArts Racing, was able to draft passed Doohan, representing Hitech Grand Prix, on the long back straight, making the move stick into the chicane before the New Zealander was able to pull away from the Australian. Doohan was able to maintain fourth, albeit almost ten seconds behind Leitch at the chequered flag, but well clear of fifth placed Jordan Dempsey of Pinnacle Motorsport.
The third Hitech Grand Prix entry of Jackson Walls ended the race in sixth ahead of Absolute Racing’s Eshan Pieris, who will have been disappointed to finish where he did after a spin relegated him down from fifth. Zen Motorsport’s Yu Kuai and Pinnacle Motorsport’s Tommy Smith finished eighth and ninth ahead of the leading Masters’ class entry Paul Wong.
Wong’s only Masters’ class rival Thomas Luedi was an early retirement, as were Yu Kanamaru and Ayrton Simmons.
“My thanks to the team,” said Sasahara. “We were going flat out, but obviously the tyres degraded a lot more than I expected.
“I knew that Cao was much quicker than me, but in the end I managed to get the win so I’m happy.”
Sasahara started again from pole position in race two and once again maintained his advantage at the start, with the Japanese racer in sublime form to claim the win, his seventh of the campaign.
Again it was Cao who was Sasahara’s closest rival, but the Chinese driver was unable to get as close as he did in the opening race of the weekend, ending 2.682 seconds behind at the chequered flag, while Doohan was able to finish on the podium to keep his chances of the title alive.
After retiring from race one, Kanamaru was back on form in race two, with the Japanese racer holding off the strong challenge of Leitch to claim fourth, the New Zealander ruing a bad start to drop behind both Kanamaru and Pieris, and although he quickly dispatched the latter, the former was a tougher nut to crack and he was unable to make a move stick.
Walls also found his way ahead of Pieris to claim sixth, while Dempsey, Simmons and Smith completed the top ten. Luedi saw the chequered flag this time around and took the Masters Class honours ahead of Wong.
“I got a good start and the car was really easy to drive today,” said Sasahara. “I tried to manage the gap and maintain it for the whole race.
“[On team mate title rival] Jack was really quick today. It’s really tough to be team-mates and it’s really hard. Every round we have to get good points all the time, so it’s really tough.”
Sasahara began race three from pole position once more and held on into turn one from team-mate Doohan, with the Hitech duo and championship rivals going on to claim a one-two finish.
Cao’s excellent weekend ended on the opening lap as he collided with Leitch on the opening lap, with the safety car being scrambled to recover the stricken car from the track, but Sasahara held onto his advantage at the restart and went on to claim the victory, his ninth of the season and the third in as many races across the weekend.
Doohan ended 3.183 seconds behind while Dempsey claimed an excellent third place for Pinnacle Motorsport, the Irishman getting the better of his British team-mate Simmons by the tune of almost eight seconds.
Pieris was fifth ahead of Kanamaru, with Walls seventh ahead of Leitch, who had fallen to the rear of the field following his first lap contact with Cao. Kuai and Smith completed the top ten, while Luedi claimed Masters Class honours ahead of Wong. Wong at least has the satisfaction that he has secured the Masters Class title with one round remaining.
The championship will go down to the final event of the season, which will take place at the same Shanghai circuit at the end of September, with Sasahara leading the way on two hundred and fifty-six points, with Doohan now his only rival, thirty-eight points adrift.
“I think the last round is going to be very tough,” said Sasahara. “Jack is getting better and better, so I’ll just try to keep my head down for the last rounds.”