Nurburgring F3.5: Debutant Palou scores maiden win
Alex Palou kept a calm head as he took a lights-to-flag victory in just his second Formula V8 3.5 race at the Nurburgring.
Palou, who is racing for Teo Martin Motorsport this weekend in place of Nelson Mason who has budget issues, dealt with a wet track with ease as he fought off the attentions of race one winner Matevos Isaakyan.
Before the race the only knowledge Palou had of a wet Nurburgring was from studying onboard videos, but after running the first two laps under the safety car he appeared to be a natural.
That’s more than could be said for rivals behind as Isaakyan outbraked himself at turn two and ran onto the astro-turf run-off in his battle to claim second from Diego Menchaca. He got the move done at turn five as Menchaca was struggling for traction.
The field got just one lap of green flag running before the safety car was called for again as Giuseppe Cipriani found himself stranded on the kerbs at the exit of turn four and retired from the race.
The lack of grip was an issue most of the field complained about, as the low-grip Nurburgring circuit became an ice rink in the wet.
A dry line started to form in the second half of the race and that was when SMP Racing by AVF played a tactical masterstroke with their mandatory pit stops.
Pitting Isaakyan and Egor Orudzhev roughly at the halfway mark of the 40-minute race, the pair had more time to adjust to running on slick tyres and quickly found themselves behind Palou in the podium places.
As Palou pitted with 15 minutes to go Isaakyan inherited the lead for a time, but a trip through the gravel after outbraking himself at turn one gave Palou back a lead he didn’t relinquish.
Isaakyan had fallen to third in the closing stages, but a 10-second penalty for Konstantin Tereschenko crossing the white line when exiting the pits allowed Isaakyan to claim second place.
Orudzhev made it a double podium for SMP with a trouble-free run to third with Tereschenko falling in behind.
Championship leader Pietro Fittipaldi couldn’t make up any places from his starting position of sixth, but his nearest rival Rene Binder could only make up one place from 10th.
Nurburgring F3.5: Isaakyan wins as Fittipaldi and Palou collide
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