A superb second for Nathanaël Berthon and Racing Engineering at today’s Sprint Race in Hungary.
The Hungaroring had suffered from heavy overnight rain but, by the time the GP2 cars lined up on the grid for the 28 lap Sprint Race, the skies were blue and the track was dry although the track temperature was much cooler than yesterday at 31°.
As the lights went off Nathanaël Berthon made a good start from second on the grid to slot in behind pole-sitter Gutierrez as the cars braked hard for the first corner. As the cars completed the opening lap Berthon was right on the gearbox of Gutierrez and both cars had opened out a 1.5s gap on Van Der Garde. Over the next few laps the Racing Engineering car continued to battle with the Lotus GP car as the gap back to Van Der Garde remained at 1.5s.
On lap 5 Berthon set the fastest race lap so far with a time of 1:34.214s but Gutierrez responded with a fractionally faster time on the next lap. The battling pair at the front continued to open out a gap on the 3rd placed Caterham Racing car and by lap 8 they were 3.0s ahead. Gutierrez open out a small gap to Berthon but the young Frenchman immediately sped up and stabilised the difference at 1.4s.
By lap 14, half distance, Berthon was just 0.7s behind Gutierrez and 6.6s ahead of Van Der Garde in 3rd. The two leading cars continued to fight at the front of the field with the two men continuing to lap within a few tenths of each other lap after lap whilst continuing to pull away from Van Der Garde.
With just 7 laps remaining Berthon was still just over a second behind Gutierrez and the two men continued to set almost identical lap times at the front of the field. They were now being chased by Razia who had passed Van der Garde but the Arden car was over 11 seconds behind and not a threat.
Running so close to Gutierrez for the entire race began to take its toll on Berthon’s tyres and over the last few laps he was forced to drop away from Gutierrez and he crossed the finishing line 3.5s behind the Lotus GP car in second place after a superb drive.
Fabio Leimer made a good start but lost a place on the opening lap to lay 10th, 0.2s behind Coletti and 0.3s ahead of Haryanto. On lap 4 Leimer lost another position to Haryanto and was now chased by Onidi. The young Swiss driver now found himself involved in a big battle between the cars placed 3rd to 14th with less than 10 seconds between the 12 cars.
By lap 14 Leimer was involved in a very close fight with Calado and Haryanto just ahead and Trummer right behind but the Racing Engineering car ran very wide at one corner dropping Leimer to 15th. Although he continued to battle hard and he was able to pass Leal to move back to 14th, he was only able to gain one more spot to finish 13th.
Although the Hungarian weekend was a little disappointing for Racing Engineering with Fabio Leimer unable to show the speed he has had in recent races, Nathanaël Berthon drove very well in yesterday’s Feature Race and he drove a faultless race today to take 2nd place. The Racing Engineering team now return to their Sanlúcar de Barrameda base for the summer break before racing resumes in one month’s time at Spa.
Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering:
"Good result from Nathanaël today finishing in P2. He drove a mature race and has shown a very good pace throughout the entire race. The win would have been possible by passing Gutierrez at the start, but Esteban was a worthy winner today. Fabio, on the other hand, struggled today in the middle of the field and was never really in a position to score points. Now we go back to the workshop to properly prepare for the upcoming rounds."
"The start was OK, but in the second corner I lost a position again. Then it was a bit like yesterday when the race was a bit boring for me. I committed two little mistakes which made me go off track and cost me a lot of positions. It wasn't possible after that for me to improve very much."
"Today is a good day for the team and me. We showed that we had a very good pace and were a long way ahead of the drivers behind. Obviously I wanted to win, but we are not far from that and I am sure it will happen soon. Thanks to all the team, mechanics and engineers for all the work they have done during this weekend."
Source: Racing Engineering