Romain Grosjean wins in Budapest
Series leader pockets fifth win after Marcus Ericsson gets a drive through
Dams driver Romain Grosjean has claimed a fifth victory this season in today’s feature race at Hungaroring. The Frenchman took the lead after race-long leader Marcus Ericsson was handed a drive through penalty in the closing stages. Charles Pic and Luiz Razia complete the podium.
As the lights went out, Ericsson made a perfect start and passed poleman Razia before turn 1. Behind the pair, Luca Filippi third on the grid made a poor gateway dropping down to P7 and allowing Pic and Grosjean to get past. The two Frenchmen battled for P3 in turn 1 and it was the Dams driver who managed to get ahead of the Addax man, his teammate Giedo van der Garde in tow.
Ericsson then worked to pull away from his closest rivals and stayed in control while Razia was busy trying to keep Grosjean at bay. Unable to pass, the Frenchman pitted one lap earlier than the Brazilian, a strategy that paid off since Razia lost a position to Grosjean after his own pitstop. Ericsson pitted on the same lap as the Caterham Team AirAsia man (lap 16) and was released just as Razia was coming down the pitlane. The stewards quickly investigated the incident and handed the iSport man a drive through penalty eight laps later. He rejoined the race in sixth.
After all the frontrunners had made their pitstops, the battle for seventh saw Sam Bird, Fabio Leimer, Dani Clos, Jules Bianchi and Christian Vietoris fight tooth and nail. Bird was soon out of the equation: the Brit who had pitted much earlier started to struggle on his tyres and was forced to make a second stop.
Grosjean who had come back 1.5s behind Ericsson before the Swede’s drive through was handed the lead and then on stayed in control. Behind, Filippi who had managed to fight his way back to P2 was struggling on his tyres. The Italian had pitted on lap 12, earlier than his closest rivals. The end of his race was all about trying to finish in the points, letting through a charging Pic, Razia and van der Garde. In the dying minutes, Ericsson also made a move and stole P5 from the Scuderia Coloni man.
Pic was then free to close in on Grosjean and put in an impressive string of quick laps, but he ran out of time before he could put pressure on the Dams driver. Grosjean thus won for the fifth time this season ahead of Pic and a recovering Razia. Van der Garde finished fourth ahead of Ericsson, Filippi, Bianchi and Vietoris. The German will start from tomorrow’s reverse pole.
Valtteri Bottas wins Budapest Race 1
Finn takes lights-to-flag victory at Hungaroring
Today rookie Valtteri Bottas became the first GP3 driver to win more than one race this season, and showed he is ‘in it to win it’ in the battle to become the 2011 GP3 Series™ champion. The Lotus ART driver took a lights-to-flag victory at Hungaroring to finish 0.9 seconds ahead of Michael Christensen.
When the lights went out Bottas pulled away well, to keep the lead of the 16-lap race with teammate James Calado and MW Arden’s Mitch Evans battling hard behind at the start. Whilst the Brit and New Zealander jostled for position, RSC Mücke Motorsport’s Christensen made a strong start from fifth on the grid and drove right around the outside of the battling pair to pinch second spot. Evans and Calado then came together on track with Calado spinning but able to rejoin in last place. Evans re-entered the pits and retired.
By the end of the first lap Bottas had pulled out a 1. 2 second lead over Christensen. Behind them, Adrian Quaife-Hobbs had moved up in to third after a storming start from ninth. The Marussia Manor Racing driver was then locked in a race long battle with Series leader Alexander Sims and Jenzer Motorsport’s Nico Müller for the final podium spot – Sims having moved up seven spots from the start.
As the race progressed Christensen matched Bottas’ pace, but was unable to mount a real challenge for the lead of the race with the Finn nearly two seconds down the road. Sims was pushing Quaife-Hobbs hard for third, but in the final few laps he found himself defending just as hard from a charging Müller.
By the chequered flag Christensen had managed to bring the gap at the front to under one second but could do nothing to stop Bottas from taking his second GP3 victory. Quaife-Hobbs held on to third spot ahead of Sims and Müller. Aaro Vainio, Lewis Williamson and Tom Dillmann were the final points scorers. The Frenchman from Addax Team will start tomorrow’s race from reverse pole.
Sims still leads the GP3 Series™ driver standings, but is now just 3 points ahead of Valtteri Bottas.
Next up for GP3 Series™ is Race 2 tomorrow morning at 08:30 local time.
Roberto Merhi also dominates second FIA Trophy race at Spa
Having already won the first FIA Formula 3 International Trophy race at the 7.004 kilometres long Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, Roberto Merhi (Prema Powerteam) was also unbeatable in the second race. At the finish, he had a margin of over 23 seconds over Marco Wittmann (Signature). Laurens Vanthoor (Signature) ended up fourth behind William Buller (Fortec Motorsport). Thus, three of the four best-placed young drivers at the demanding Belgian circuit came from the ranks of the Formula 3 Euro Series. Merhi extended his points’ lead in the FIA Formula 3 International Trophy.
Spaniard Roberto Merhi really seems to like the track that many drivers call their favourite circuit: the 20-year old dominated qualifying and the two FIA Formula 3 International Trophy races almost at will. In the second race, the points’ leader in both the Formula 3 Euro Series and the FIA Formula 3 International Trophy led all the way from lights to flag.
Marco Wittmann, currently second in the Formula 3 Euro Series, ended up second behind Merhi. For a couple of laps, he was followed by his team-mate Laurens Vanthoor, but the Belgian, who had started ninth, eventually lost third place to William Buller.
Roberto Merhi (Prema Powerteam): “Great, I have scored my fourth win in the fifth round of the FIA Formula 3 International Trophy. My start was good, I already was able to gain a margin on the first few metres and extend it lap after lap. It was an almost perfect weekend.”
Marco Wittmann (Signature): “We were too slow, we couldn’t keep up with Roberto. Especially in the second sector, he was much quicker than me. Now, we have to find the reason for that.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Signature): “I have started ninth and I came home fourth. In the FIA Formula 3 International Trophy, I am even third. I reckon that I can be happy with that. In the second half of the race, my car started to understeer, so there was no way for me to keep William Buller behind me.”