Break for summer on a high?
With a 44-point lead over his nearest rival, Giedo Van der Garde (P1 Motorsport) has controlled the first part of the season perfectly. The Dutchman is not however about to take his eye off the ball. He hasn't won in three races and just like the other 25 Formula Renault 3.5 Series drivers, he'd love to go into the summer break on a high.
With three wins and two runner-up spots in seven races, the statistics clearly favour Giedo Van der Garde. This season is however very open, a fact which has ultimately benefited the P1 Motorsport. He has not been competing with just one or two isolated rivals -- there are a dozen or so potential winners at each race. This means his challengers often end up sharing the points, whilst Van der Garde just keeps on extending his lead at the front.
If we look at the statistics from the first seven races in greater detail, we can see that aside from Van der Garde, four other drivers have each won one race: Bertrand Baguette (International Draco Racing) at Spa-Francorchamps, Charles Pic (Tech 1 Racing) at Monaco, and then Salvador Duran (Interwetten.com) and Robert Wickens (Carlin Motorsport) at Silverstone. Even more tellingly, there are thirteen drivers -- nearly half the field -- who have finished in the top three at least once. So, what will happen at the Hungaroring?
Giedo Van der Garde, without a win since Spa-Francorchamps, will certainly want to further establish his leadership of the championship. Another win would set things up nicely for him for the hectic post-summer programme, with four meetings in less than two months. Behind Giedo, an intense fight for the runner-up spot is being waged, with ten or so drivers separated by only twenty points.
Salvador Duran is currently a little ahead of the rest of the challengers thanks to his 22-point tally at Silverstone. It would suit him down to the ground to continue his run in Hungary. In contrast, third-placed Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin Motorsport), consistency personified at the start of the season, needs to return to form after drawing a blank at Silverstone, just like Charles Pic. The young Frenchman will have high hopes in Hungary, since this will be the first meeting where he has already raced on the track!
In fifth, level on points with Pic, his team-mate Julien Jousse (Tech 1 Motorsport) knows that the stakes are high for him in Budapest, where he finished in the points in both races last year. A win would get his campaign back on track, just as it would for the drivers behind him, Marco Bonanomi (Red Devil Team Comtec) and Alvaro Barba (Prema Powerteam).
Robert Wickens and Bertrand Baguette have each won one race this season. Both will be looking for greater consistency, which would help them to make up ground on the leaders.
There are also several drivers who could shake up the more or less established pecking order, particularly those who produced the goods here last year. So watch out for the likes of Guillaume Moreau (KTR), Fairuz Fauzy (Fortec Motorsport), James Walker (Fortec Motorsport) and Miguel Molina (Pream Powerteam).
Finally, the two Ultimate-Signature team drivers Fabio Carbone and Estaban Guerrieri, who looked sharp at Silverstone, not forgetting Marcos Martinez (Pons Racing), are all in with a serious chance.