1 August 2015
Lynn lauds ‘really important’ Hungaroring victory
GP2 rookie Alex Lynn believes he can still challenge for a leading championship position - and enhance his reputation in F1 circles - after winning in Budapest.
GP3 Series champion Alex Lynn has hailed his first GP2 Series feature race win as potentially one of the most important of his career as he continues to stake his claim for a place at motorsport's top table.
Despite a turbulent start to the season, the Briton had already claimed a reverse-grid win in the Barcelona sprint round, but finally made the Saturday breakthrough by leading from lights to flag in the first of two races at the Hungaroring last weekend, overcoming the series two leading point-scorers in the process.
With a Williams testing contract already in his pocket, former Red Bull protégé Lynn knows that he needs to continue making progress on the final rung of the development ladder if he is to break into F1 in the next year or two, and admitted that victory in the manner of his Budapest win couldn't do any harm to his prospects.
“Races like that are really important for my career, and it felt so nice to put it all together on a weekend,” he confessed, “I've said quite a lot this year that, when we do that, we'll be there but, at the same time, everyone was still waiting to see it… It's a real weight off my shoulders and a great feeling.”
Lynn defied conventional GP2 wisdom to put his car on pole in Hungary and then had to fight his way by both runaway points leader Stoffel Vandoorne and surprise package Rio Haryanto to claim victory after they opted for slightly different tyre strategies in the race.
“I have to admit, I think I underestimated how good it would feel to win a GP2 Series feature race,” the DAMS driver admitted, “Okay, I won the reversed-grid sprint race at Barcelona earlier in the year, but my Hungaroring win from my first GP2 pole position on Saturday felt like another string to my bow, another thing to notch up.
“The qualifying session was a bit strange really. We did something really unusual for GP2, which was to take our second set of tyres and go and nail a lap in the middle of the session while everyone was in the pits between runs. I did it just right, banged in the lap on a clear track and that gave me pole, and we only needed that one lap.
It was a bit risky because someone could easily have come out just after me and been on a slow lap when I was on my flier and delayed me but, if we'd gone out with everyone else, then you couldn't warm the tyres and peak them properly. Certainly Hungaroring is the only place where you could make that work…
“We also went for the riskier strategy of starting on the harder tyres – that's a gamble because you could always get scuppered by a safety car. There was a safety car but, thankfully, it came just early enough for none of those to have started on the soft option tyre to make their stop under caution. With the luck we've had this year, we wanted to not lose a race because we'd gone on the slower strategy – the one we chose was definitely quicker, even if it was theoretically a risk.
It was touch-and-go at mid-distance because our pace on the medium wasn't great compared to Stoffel, who had switched to the medium and was flying. We pitted with 15 laps to go, which is very, very early to take the option tyres, and, when I came out, I couldn't even see him as he was about two corners in front. I thought that was that, but the options gave loads of grip and kept getting better and better.
“I still needed to pass Stoffel and Rio Haryanto but, once I'd got into my rhythm, I thought it was going to be clear-cut - and it was really. The team made so many great calls to make it happen.”
Although the Sunday sprint didn't go to plan as Lynn failed to score, he remains optimistic that, with his confidence boosted, he can challenge to be 'best of the rest' behind McLaren prospect Vandoorne in the overall standings.
“The win has now put me well in the hunt for second in the championship,” he confirmed, “Of course, I'll try to win the championship as long as it's mathematically possible, but Stoffel is comfortably ahead and second is still a good target in my rookie GP2 season. I've just got to keep on building on the foundations we've got now...”
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