NICO MULLER DEFIES THE RAIN IN HUNGARY—
Nico Muller (International Draco Racing) mastered a wet track at the Hungaroring on Saturday afternoon to take victory in the weekend’s first Formula Renault 3.5 Series race from Kevin Magnussen (DAMS) and Sergey Sirotkin (ISR). After starting from row eight on the grid, the Dane increased his championship lead over Stoffel Vandoorne (Fortec Motorsports), who finished two places behind him in fourth.
The day began with Andre Negrao (International Draco Racing) grabbing his first Formula Renault 3.5 Series pole of the season. In a stop-start session that was interrupted four times the Brazilian qualified ahead of Nico Muller, Mikhail Aleshin (Tech 1 Racing), Antonio Felix da Costa (Arden Caterham) and Will Stevens (P1 by Strakka Racing).
In response to the rain, which was falling with increasing intensity, the safety car came out for the start of the race and led the cars round until lap five. Nico Muller made an early but unsuccessful attempt to dive past Andre Negrao, while Sergey Sirotkin (ISR) jumped up to third when Mikhail Aleshin and Antonio Felix da Costa came together.
In challenging conditions there was much chopping and changing in the pack. One of the men to profit was Nico Muller, who cashed in on a mistake by his team-mate on lap ten to take the lead. The Swiss driver then pulled away, eventually taking the chequered flag by fully 26 seconds from Kevin Magnussen (DAMS), who produced a brilliant recovery drive from 16th on the grid.
Sergey Sirotkin completed the top three, with Stoffel Vandoorne finishing one place behind him after starting 11th. Mikhail Aleshin came home fifth ahead of Nigel Melker (Tech 1 Racing) and Carlos Sainz (Zeta Corse), another driver to pick his way through the field from well down the grid. Will Stevens, Arthur Pic (AV Formula) and Matias Laine (P1 by Strakka Racing) were the other drivers to finish in the points.
What they said
Nico Muller: “We’ve had a lot of ups and downs this season, with the high point obviously being my win in Monaco. I really couldn’t wait to win again, and it’s been a long time for me. It’s good to come back like this and climb up a few places in the championship. The track was more slippery than ever but the car went incredibly well. The challenge was to stay on the tarmac and not make a mistake. I did that and managed to build my lead. I’d love to go and do it again tomorrow.”
Kevin Magnussen: “It’s a good result. Our aim was to be on the podium and get the points that come with it. We should be pleased with the result today. We’re trying to work even harder. Even though I’m leading the championship, my rivals will be giving nothing away.”
Sergey Sirotkin: “It was a good race after what was a pretty long break. We haven’t had much success this season, what with missing out on podiums and big points, but I managed to get some here today. I’m delighted. Like Kevin said, we now need to work hard and make sure we finish the season in style.”
Provisional Formula Renault 3.5 Series standings: 1. K. Magnussen 181 points; 2. S. Vandoorne 148; 3. N. Melker 108; 4. W. Stevens 105; 5. N. Muller 102