Hungaroring, Race 1: Gasly storms to victory in Budapest

Frenchman claims second consecutive Feature Race win

By Franck Drui

23 July 2016 - 17:47
Hungaroring, Race 1: Gasly storms to (…)

Pierre Gasly has continued his winning ways by easily claiming victory in this afternoon’s Feature Race at the Hungaroring, controlling the start and leading the way to the pitstop before waiting for the various strategies to shake out and hand him back the lead for a strong win ahead of teammate Antonio Giovinazzi and Sergey Sirotkin.

The heavy storms of earlier in the day were a distant memory when the grid formed under hot and sunny conditions, and when the lights went out the Red Bull tester made a strong start to easily hold the lead from pole, while fellow front row starter Sirotkin was swamped by Giovinazzi and Norman Nato but led Arthur Pic, ART Grand Prix teammate Nobuharu Matsushita and Raffaele Marciello, who was first of the hard tyre starters as the shape of the race shook out.

The Russian was pushing hard to regain positions, but the technical nature of this circuit meant the others were easily able to rebuff him, while out front Gasly sailed serenely on, building a gap to deny his rivals the pyrrhic victory of DRS engagement before the stops: Giovinazzi and Nato came in on lap 9, handing Sirotkin some clean air, with Gasly and the Russian pitting in successive laps to hand Marciello the lead on track: Sirotkin re-emerged behind Nato once again, and had to overtake him the old fashioned way on lap 12.

Marciello did a great job of setting the pace, building a gap over Gustav Malja and Luca Ghiotto and holding the time gap back to Gasly, who disposed a series of backmarkers yet to stop as he pushed to ensure he would be in prime position to regain his lead after the stops were complete. Marciello finally stopped on lap 24 after a strong set of laps, but it wasn’t enough: the Italian emerged behind Sirotkin, and the die was cast.

Jimmy Eriksson was the last man to pit with just 3 laps remaining, handing the lead back to Gasly: if it seems a surprising strategy a glance at his laptimes showed that they were still competitive, and the Swede was on a charge, pushing up to P8 by the final lap. But all eyes were on Gasly who, after claiming his debut win last time out in the Silverstone feature, showed that the cork is truly out of the bottle by following up with a strong win ahead of Giovinazzi, who soaked up enormous pressure to deny Sirotkin’s advances, while Marciello’s tyre gamble paid out with a fine P4 finish.

Pic made up positions during the race to finish fifth, ahead of Matsushita and Nato, but heartbreakingly Eriksson’s storming drive was undone by mechanical gremlins as he retired on the last lap, promoting Jordan King to P8 and tomorrow’s reverse pole, with Artem Markelov mugging former teammate Mitch Evans for 9th on the penultimate lap. The win promotes Gasly to the top of the drivers’ standings ahead of Giovinazzi, 103 points to 96, with Marciello overtaking Oliver Rowland for third by 84 points to 79 ahead of tomorrow’s Sprint Race.



Motorsport news