Gonzalez battles back from early Disappointments in Hungary
Venezuelan Rodolfo Gonzalez was hopeful as the GP2 series moved to the Hungaroring circuit near to Budapest, Hungary. He was competing again for the Trident racing team.
The changeable weather with a mixture of dry running and wet sessions had following the series from Britain to Germany and now to Hungary.
For me it's been a really tough race from the beginning.
The final practice and qualifying took place on the Friday in dry conditions with the Hungarian racetrack's configuration not helping in the attempt to run a clean session, and traffic was one of the key elements in jeopardizing Gonzalez’s efforts. Gonzalez could only qualify in 25th place after an early spin meant some car changes that didn’t work and left him unable to improve his 1st run time. His goal was of improving him position before race 2.
As Gonzalez commented, “Right after getting on-track I found a pretty good overall feel with the car. Then I ended up spinning, and made my way back to the pit-lane. At that point, we did some set-up modifications, but the results weren't the ones we did expect. I started to experience a lot of understeer, and I couldn't improve my previous fastest lap with the second set of new tyres”
Race 1 took place on Saturday afternoon after the Formula 1 qualifying, with drivers such as Lewis Hamilton keen to see how drivers coped on the dirtier side of the track nearer the pit wall.
After a frantic start Gonzalez managed to miss the accident at the first corner and was planning to stay out as long as his tyres were still drivable, and so was running as high as 5th place before his stops. Unfortunately he then was adjudged to have overtaken Leal under yellow flag conditions and was served a drive through penalty.
Then to end a dismal day he then had to retire a few laps later with a gearbox problem. This would mean he would start from almost the back of the field for race 2.
As a frustrated Gonzalez commented “For me it's been a really tough race from the beginning. The drive-through that I got for a pass under the yellow flag ended my chances for a comeback. I pulled alongside Julian Leal, whom I was battling with, and I saw the flag really late, when I was already in front of him. Then, after the penalty, the gearbox issues I experienced before got worse and worse, and eventually forced me to stop and retire.”
On Sunday morning the threatened rain arrived making the conditions very tricky. From his 25th place start Gonzalez was soon up to 12th place before coming in the change from his wet weather tyres to slicks. This happened just before the first of several safety cars as cars were spinning off all round the track. After the final safety car, and now back on wet weather tyres, as it was raining again, Gonzalez moved up to 9th place at the back of the lead train with a gap of several seconds to the car behind, but was unable to make up any further places to finish 16 places higher up than his grid slot. The issues in qualifying initially and then the gearbox issue meant he was unable to get into a points finish.
After the race Gonzalez said “I am happier after this race as I made up lots of places and with a bit more luck I could have finished up in the points with my team mate. We now have a summer break before we go to one of my favorite tracks for the next races at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium”
The next races take place during the August Bank holiday weekend where Gonzalez hopes that with an improved grid slot for race 1 he can race for a points finish.
By: Rodolfo Gonzalez/ Chris Roberts