28 July 2012
Chilton clinches maiden series win in Hungary
Max Chilton followed through on his first GP2 Series pole position to successfully convert it into his maiden victory, despite intense late pressure from Davide Valsecchi.
Max Chilton was delighted to finally claim his first win in the GP2 Series, taking victory in the Hungarian feature race after starting from pole position but being made to work for it mid-race by other cars on different tyre strategies, and at the end by a determined Davide Valsecchi.
Despite early forecasts of possible thunderstorms affecting Saturday afternoon, it proved to be a sunny and very hot start to the Hungary feature race with Carlin's Max Chilton leading Davide Valsecchi (DAMS) off the front row of the grid after Lotus GP's James Calado had been demoted to fourth place alongside iSport's Jolyon Palmer because of a practice session penalty.
Chilton got a perfect start and quickly pulled away from a sluggish Valsecchi, leading by over a second at the end of the first lap; Valsecchi had his hands full holding onto second place ahead of Arden's Luiz Razia, who had passed Palmer after surviving a turn 1 scare when his right rear wheel was hit by Esteban Gutiérrez who was busy overtaking his team mate Calado on the inside line.
Palmer had got caught up in the first corner traffic and dropped all the way back to eighth over the opening laps, but at least he was faring better than his team mate Marcus Ericsson who had failed to launch off the starting grid, or Rodolfo Gonzalez and Rio Haryanto who had collided and spun in turn 1. All three cars were eventually able to rejoin the race albeit well off the pace, with Gonzales given a drive-thru for causing the latter incident.
That was more than could be said for Johnny Cecotto Jr., whose Barwa Addax locked up and ran straight off the track into the tyre barriers at the end of turn 1 on lap 4 with what appeared like a possible stuck throttle. That brought out local waved yellows down the start/finish straight as track workers recovered Cecotto and effected repairs to the tyre wall.
Meanwhile Chilton continued to stretch out his lead over the field, with Valsecchi able to stay narrowly ahead of Razia who now had his rear view mirrors full of the Lotus of James Calado. On the softer option tyres, the British driver had quickly recovered fourth place from his team mate in turn 1 on lap 3; Gutiérrez's car was possibly also the worse for its impact with the rear of the Arden at the start, and he was made to work hard to hold on to fifth ahead of Caterham's Giedo van der Garde.
The pit window opened for the mandatory pit stops from lap 6 but none of the leaders were in a hurry to come in quite so early in a 37 lap race, although Josef Kral had clearly already had enough of the supersoft tyres and came in for a set of primes on lap 8 while running in 13th place, hoping to use the new rubber combined with clear track space to recover the lost ground.
Otherwise the race had soon settled into a "follow my leader" affair typical of Hungaroring outings, the tight and twisty circuit making it almost as difficult to pass here as it is at Monaco. Arden's Simon Trummer and Ocean Racing's Nigel Melker clashed harmlessly on lap 10 while battling over 14th place which nearly allowed Trident's Stephane Richelmi to get past them both, but in the end the nature of the track defeated even this potential moment of overtaking.
A flurry of midfielders came in for their pit stops on lap 11 led by Felipe Nasr, Jolyon Palmer and Fabio Leimer, but Nasr lost a lot of time when his rear wheels were still spinning as the mechanics tried to effect the tyre change. Next lap around it was the turn of the first of the leaders to come in, with Razia, Calado and van der Garde all pitting at the same time and then exiting in the same order in which they had come in.
Johnny Cecotto Jr.
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