25 July 2009
Hülk completes hat-trick in Hungary.
Having rediscovered his taste for winning at the Nurburgring two weeks ago, Nico Hülkenberg repeated his dominant form in Hungary to easily claim a third win of the 2009 GP2 Series campaign.
Despite starting from fifth on the grid, the ART Grand Prix driver came home ahead of poleman Lucas di Grassi and Javier Villa, stretching out his lead in the championship as he gave his rivals a lesson in racing.
The German made a strong start when the lights went out, moving up two places to third behind di Grassi and Villa as the clean side of the grid claimed an early advantage, with front row starter Vitaly Petrov making a slow getaway after being last man to make the grid. Davide Rigon, meanwhile, went the other way and, as the Russian came around ninth at the end of the lap, the Italian moved up from ninth on the grid to fourth on the road.
However, with the twisting, undulating nature of the Hungaroring circuit making overtaking as difficult as ever, it was clear that pit-stop strategies were going to be all important, and so it proved. Villa was setting fast laps until he was the first of the front men to make a stop on lap ten, forcing the German to come in on the next lap. He emerged ahead and, with di Grassi coming in one lap later than his rivals and emerging in front, it looked like the race was run.
But that advantage was only to last for two corners, as Hülkenberg made a brave move around the outside at turn two, achieving the near-impossible by overtaking di Grassi for the effective lead. As the drivers ahead of them eventually pulled into the pits, the German pulled away from his rivals, none of whom could stay within sight of the ART car.
From there, the final result was never in doubt. As the laps rolled away, it was Hülkenberg who was first to the chequered flag, coming home 15 seconds ahead of di Grassi who, in turn, led Villa across the line by a second.
Behind them, Pastor Maldonado held on for fourth to give ART a good haul of points after pushing a little too hard on the penultimate lap to get on the podium. In the end, the Venezuelan just won a drag race to the line with Davide Valsecchi, who was rewarded with fifth after running around the outside of Luca Filippi at turn one late in the race.
Giedo van der Garde came home in seventh to claim some rare points for former champions iSport, while Rigon was rewarded for his flying start by claiming Trident's first point of the season in eighth.
As title rivals Romain Grosjean and Vitaly Petrov both finished out of the points - despite the Frenchman slicing up to tenth from last on the grid - the smile on Hülkenberg's face was wider than usual. The German extended his lead to 57 points, 15 ahead of Grosjean, who continues to lead his Barwa Addax team-mate - who retired midway through the race with a suspected misfire - by one, while di Grassi has now closed up on the pair with 36 points.
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