Belgian dominates sprint race ahead of title rivals
McLaren test driver Stoffel Vandoorne delighted both ART and his F1 supporters with a crushing display of dominance in this morning’s sprint race in Budapest, taking the lead at the start and pulling away over the next 28 laps to easily lead home title rivals Jolyon Palmer and Williams tester Felipe Nasr to put himself third in the drivers’ standings.
The result was set up when the lights went out: Vandoorne had a solid start from P2 to edge into the lead despite a great start from Nasr, who followed the Belgian through poleman Nathanaël Berthon at turn one with Daniel Abt, Palmer, yesterday’s winner Arthur Pic, Conor Daly (courtesy of a tremendous start from P13) and Marco Sorensen behind them.
Palmer was showing his customary raciness, clinically dispatching Abt at turn one next time by and then holding off a strong fightback, and dispatching Berthon in the same manner a few laps later, with Adrian Quaife-Hobbs echoing the move on Sorensen just behind them. The Series leader was then on Nasr’s tail and was clearly not in a mood to hang about: he dived up the inside despite the Brazilian’s best efforts, returning the love on the exit and was through for P2.
Unfortunately for most of the other drivers, the usual problems with overtaking on the tight, technical circuit meant that, despite most of the field circulating nose to tail, there didn’t appear to be any way to get by, particularly as they were trying as much as possible to save their tyres to get to the flag.
But Vandoorne had no such problems: the Belgian ran at his own pace, setting fastest lap on the final tour to win at a cantor from Palmer, who was struggling with his tyres in the closing laps but just held off Nasr for P2. Behind them Berthon drove a strong race to hold off almost race long pressure from Abt for P4, with Pic resisting pressure from Daly for more points for 6th after a tremendous weekend for the Frenchman, and Quaife-Hobbs rounding out the points paying positions.
Palmer leads Nasr by 192 points to 149 as the grid departs for the summer break, with Vandoorne up to third with 109 points ahead of Cecotto on 100, Coletti on 96, Evans on 92 and Pic on 70 points. DAMS lead the way in the teams’ title from Carlin, 233 points to 215, with ART Grand Prix on 135, Racing Engineering on 125 and Trident on 122 as the grid takes a break before returning at Spa Francorchamps in a month’s time.