CLICK: Full GP3 race 1 results from the Hungaroring
Richie Stanaway and Nick Yelloly succeeded in making Hungary's race 1 a Status Grand Prix 1-2, but the win was in doubt right down to the penultimate lap as Arden's Robert Visoiu did everything he could to hustle Stanaway into a mistake in order to claim victory for himself.
Having secured pole position for the race earlier in the day, Stanaway managed to hold on to the lead off the grid and through turn 1, but there was an immediate spirited move around the outside by Visoiu to try and wrest the lead away. The Romanian driver finally had to give up his attempt when he locked up, finally forcing him to fall into line behind the New Zealander.
Stanaway's team mate Nick Yelloly slotted into third place, while championship leader Alex Lynn had a terrible start from second on the grid and initially dropped back to fifth place before recovering to complete the first lap back up in fourth again ahead of Arden's Patric Niederhauser and Carlin's Emil Bernstorff. The third Arden car of Jann Mardenborough also got a great start to fly up from 11th on the grid to seventh place, putting him well ahead of ART's Dino Zamparelli in the opening corners.
Visoiu didn't let Stanaway escape one inch at the front, and the whole field stayed closely packed together on the opening laps with just ten seconds covering the top 12 at the end of the third lap. The notoriously tight and tricky 2.722-mile, 16-turn Hungaroring was making overtaking even more difficult for the GP3 drivers than usual, although ART's Marvin Kirchhöfer proved the exception to the no-overtaking rule as be attempted to battle his way back from 14th pace on the grid (after a five place penalty) and back into the points with successful passes on his team mate Alex Fontana and Marussia Manor Racing's Patrick Kujala. However, Matheo Tuscher's own attempt to put his Jenzer Motorsport ahead of Ryan Cullen succeeded only after nerfing the Marussia off the track, earning him a review from the race stewards.
The gaps between the cars grew as the race went on, except between the top two. Visoiu was all over the back of Stanaway, and with four laps remaining he got a great run on the leader down the main straight and looked set to get his nose in front, only for the Kiwi to slam the door shut and manage to hold on by inches. Both men were grappling with fading tyres and it was now a matter of who could avoid making a mistake first.
For a moment it looked as though Stanaway had made the crucial error as he locked up with three to go; moments later and the Status GP drifted sideways through right-hander, but still Visoiu couldn't make the move he needed. Finally he went all-in through the chicane, trusting his own tyres to have more grip than it proved they actually possessed and now it was the Arden who couldn't make the turn and instead went into the grass at turn 5.
Not only did that release Stanaway to an easy victory - his second in 2014 - it also allowed his team mate Yelloly to get past the recovering Visoiu for second place. Alex Lynn wasn't able to take the same advantage and remained pegged back in fourth place, while the mad scramble going into the final lap gave Lynn's team mate Bernstorff the chance to get the jump on Niederhauser for fifth.
Mardenborough tried to press the same advantage but was rebuffed, leaving him crossing the line in seventh place which at least means he will be on the front row for Sunday morning's race 2. That will put him alongside Zamparelli, who claims pole position under reverse grid rules after finishing Saturday's race in eight place ahead of Dean Stoneman (Marussia Manor Racing) and Jimmy Eriksson (Koiranen GP). Finishing just outside the points was Kirchhöfer whose recovery drive finally ran out of steam after he reached 11th place ahead of Eriksson's team mate Santiago Urrutia.
Lynn stays in the lead of the GP3 drivers championship battle with 126 points despite a slightly disappointing day's racing. However Eriksson has been demoted from second spot after picking up just a single point in race 1, which means that Stanaway goes ahead of him on 99 points. In the team standings, Carlin maintain an impressive lead on 213 points but their margin has been shaved by 25 points thanks to Status GP's 1-2 success.
See full GP3 race 1 results from the Hungaroring