Brazilian claims first win of the season
Lucas di Grassi opened his win account for the year in fine form at the Hungaroring on Saturday, taking the lead at the first corner and then holding on despite race long pressure from Andreas Zuber to take the chequered flag by just 0.7 seconds to put himself third in the championship, with Bruno Senna rounding out the podium and closing the gap on championship leader Giorgio Pantano.
The win was set up at the start when di Grassi made his now customary storming getaway, along with teammate Vitaly Petrov, while poleman Romain Grosjean was very slow to get started: the Brazilian went inside Zuber at the first turn to claim the lead and tore off down the road with the Russian playing wingman, while Senna's equally impressive start put him up four place to fourth on the first lap, just behind Zuber.
A lap later and Pantano was not waiting around, pulling a move around the outside of Grosjean at turn 4: the pair came together and the Italian was spun around before restarting at the back of the field, while the Frenchman came straight back to the pits to have a flat tyre changed, and Mike Conway managed to sneak through Karun Chandhok for fifth place in the melee.
The pitstop strategy was always going to be vital at this circuit, with many teams heading in early to get some clear air and make up some ground, a move that was short circuited largely by the number of other teams who had the same idea. In fact by the time that Grosjean came in for his more regular stop on lap 15 every driver bar Pastor Maldonado, who started last after failing to make qualifying yesterday but was now running first on the road, had their stops out of the way and it was a straight fight for the flag. Leading that challenge behind the Venezuelan was di Grassi, who had Zuber all over his rear once more, but the Brazilian was equal to the challenge and held on for dear life, with Petrov losing out slightly at the stop following on behind them until lap 23, when he sadly retired with a mechanical gremlin, handing the potential podium position to Senna.
Conway and Buemi were equally engrossed in battle, and it was anyone's guess who would come out on top. But when the chequered flag dropped it was di Grassi who was punching the air in delight as he cross the line just ahead of Zuber, with Senna a further 3 seconds behind. Chandhok finished fourth after a smart pitstop allowed him to pull away from his earlier fight with Conway, while a smart strategy, a lot of fast laps and a late stop handed Maldonado a strong fifth place, a great reward for an impressive drive. Conway just held on to sixth ahead of Buemi, while Andy Soucek soaked up heavy late race pressure from Jerome D'Ambrosio to claim Sunday's pole position.
And the new race winner had more reason to be delighted: while Pantano holds on to his championship lead he was unable to add to his 63 point haul, Senna pushed up to 54 points but di Grassi broke into the top three for the first time this year with 38 points, two ahead of his RDD compatriot Grosjean.
GP" Budapest – Race 1 Driver Team
1. Lucas di Grassi Barwa Int. Campos Team
2. Andreas Zuber Piquet Sports
3. Bruno Senna iSport International
4. Karun Chandhok iSport International
5. Pastor Maldonado Piquet Sports
6. Mike Conway Trident Racing
7 Sébastien Buemi Trust Team Arden
8. Andy Soucek Super Nova Racing
9. Jérôme d’Ambrosio Dams
10. Sakon Yamamoto ART Grand Prix
11. Kamui Kobayashi Dams
12. Diego Nunes DPR
13. Javier Villa Racing Engineering
14. Giorgio Pantano Racing Engineering
15. Luca Filippi Trust Team Arden
16. Alvaro Parente Super Nova Racing
17. Romain Grosjean ART Grand Prix
18 Marko Asmer Fisichella Motor Sport Int.
19 Roldan Rodriguez Fisichella Motor Sport Int.
Fastest lap time: Romain Grosjean (ART Grand Prix): 1:29.793 on lap 17
Not Classified Driver Team Vitaly Petrov Barwa Int. Campos Team Michael Herck DPR Davide Valsecchi Durango Ho-Pin Tung Trident Racing Adrian Valles BCN Competicion Carlos Iaconelli BCN Competicion Alberto Valerio Durango