Nancy Knapp Schilke, GP2 Correspondent
Esteban Gutiérrez earned his third GP2 Series victory today in Budapest, Hungary with a dominating performance. The Mexican did not hesitate when the lights went out to sail into the lead as the field headed into turn one. The Lotus GP driver had a gap of 3.565 seconds to his nearest challenger, Nathanaël Berthon, who was more than 12 seconds in front of the third place finisher and points leader Luiz Razia.
“It was very enjoyable, for sure, but it's never easy: there's a lot behind it, a lot of preparation from the team and a lot of people around, and this has to be considered as part of the win,” said Gutiérrez.
Normally the Sprint Race finish is closer at the checkered flag, but Gutiérrez was clearly the man of the hour.
Berthon held his ground from front row position to attach his Racing Engineering car to the rear wing of Gutiérrez, but the rookie could not keep up the hot pace. Following closely behind was Giedo van der Garde, who had taken the position out of the hands of Jolyon Palmer in the first turn. The Briton held fourth briefly when Razia overtook Palmer in turn two.
Berthon gave it his best to chase the Lotus GP driver, while at the same time protecting his potential podium finish. He commented: “For the team and for me, it was great: we had a very good pace compared to everybody, although Gutierrez was pretty quick today! “
Razia started sixth and was on the move, and once past Palmer, the Arden International driver set his sights on Caterham Racing’s Dutchman. With the fight for third taking place, the leader was able to set his own pace and increase his gap over Berthon. Berthon, no doubt, was pleased that Razia was challenging van der Garde as it allowed him to open up a nice gap.
Yesterday’s winner Max Chilton and Davide Valsecchi were able to easily overtake James Calado, who did not have a stellar start when the lights went out.
With all but two drivers on the Pirelli medium tyre, the contest for positions on the Hungaroring circuit was hot and heavy. For van der Garde and Chilton, there was concern as both had to start today’s race on the super soft tyres, and having to pit during the short race would cost them dearly. No doubt it was one of the reasons that the Dutch racer was not pushing, which costs van der Garde positions.
Razia made the move on van der Garde, and was easily into third place but he time it took the Brazilian cost him dearly. “I was able to pull another 2 cars at the start, and then I had a good first 3 laps but van der Garde still had some tyres left on the opening laps,” said Razia. “I waited a little bit because I knew the super softs would go away, and when I did overtake him it was not the right moment because he was not struggling so much, but it was crucial to overtake him at that moment because I could open a gap to Palmer.”
The DAMS driver was finally able to get in front of van der Garde, but the time spent by Valsecchi to make the move into fourth, he would not have time to catch his rival for the title, and thus settled for the points.
Like van der Garde, Chilton also had to conserve his tyres, and lost positions.
Palmer followed the Italian down the road and was able to hold fifth at the finish for iSport International. Sixth went to Lotus GP’s Calado. Placing seventh was Carlin’s Rio Haryanto followed by DAMS rookie, Felipe Nasr.
The final points' finishers put on quite a show in the closing lap. Palmer had Calado filling his mirrors, and behind them the action was hot and heavy. Nasr stared from the back of the grid and quietly made his way up to challenge for a points paying position; but as he went inside of Stefano Coletti as they entered turn one, he elected to make the outside move, and that opened the door for Haryanto. The Brazilian hung on to nip Scuderia Coloni‘s Coletti for the final point awarded in the shorter Sprint Race.
The GP2 teams will be out of action until August 31 when they head to Circuit Spa- Francorchamps in Belgium. With this weekend over, Razia has 196 points to Valsecchi’s 189. Gutiérrez and Calado made up ground to the top two this weekend. “It was a great weekend, 2 podiums just before the summer break, which is great!”
Razia will have little down time as the Brazilian will be at a training camp for two weeks over the break. His main rival for the championship, Valsecchi did not outline his plans but he did state, “Overall the results this weekend were very positive. I'm glad to have made-up ground after Hockenheim – I owed it to the team – and I will come back even stronger for the final few races of the season."