CLICK: Full Sunday sprint race 2 results
Stoffel Vandoorne put himself into contention in the drivers' championship with an easy dominating victory in the Sunday morning sprint race at the Hungaroring, which despite lower track temperatures nonetheless led to a heated battle between Jolyon Palmer and Felipe Nasr which spilled out into open sniping between the pair on the post-race podium interviews.
Vandoorne had started on the front row alongside Venezuela GP Lazarus' Nathanael Berthon, who had had inherited pole position for the Sunday sprint race following the drive-thru penalties handed down to the Racing Engineering pair. That had left Raffaele Marciello starting down in 19th place instead of at the front, with his similarly penalised team mate Stefano Coletti on the row ahead of him.
When the lights went out it was Vandoorne's ART that got the better launch of the front row pair, Berthon dropping back behind a flying Felipe Nasr before managing to salvage third position ahead of Hilmer's Daniel Abt. Championship leader Jolyon Palmer attempted to go around the outside of turn 1 but had limited success, and instead had to wait until the start of the second lap before he was able to put in an aggressive move to dispatch Abt for fourth place. After that it was just a matter of time before the clearly faster DAMS got past the outclassed Venezuela GP Lazarus of Berthon for third place.
Behind the leaders there was early contact for Takuya Izawa who suffered front wing damage and received a black flag ordering him in for repairs when he failed to report to the ART pit box as expected. There was also contact further back between Coletti and Trident's Johnny Cecotto Jr. which sent both cars bouncing over the high kerbing at the chicane: neither man would give an inch, and while Coletti survived the incident it was very much the end of the race for Cecotto who was forced to return to pit lane to retire. That ended Trident's involvement in the morning's race, as Cecotto's team mate Sergio Canamasas had not been able to take the start following his heavy accident at the end of Saturday's feature event.
Palmer meanwhile was still on the move, diving his way past championship rival Nasr down the inside of turn 1 at the start of lap 7 to take second place, leaving the Brazilian complaining over the team radio that he had been forced off by the DAMS. The race stewards responded by investigating the pass but found no cause to hand out penalties to either party, although the pair still had words in parc fermé and all the way onto the podium after the race finished.
A separate investigation into a clash between Coletti and André Negrao did result in a penalty and once again it was Coletti on the receiving end: the fuming Monegasque was handed his second drive-thru penalty of the weekend, leaving him complaining - not without some cause - that the stewards in Hungary seemed to have firmly set against him. Negrao's race came to an end in the gravel run-off at turn 2 soon afterwards when he made contact with Simon Trummer as the Rapax attempted a pass, and Coletti also failed to finish after excessive tyre wear left little point in his continuing.
The midsection of the race settled down with Vandoorne maintaining a steady 1.5s lead over Palmer, who had by now dropped Nasr by over two seconds. Berthon was doing well to hold on to the back of the third-placed Carlin and was himself now well clear of Abt, while Saturday feature race winner Arthur Pic was close behind in sixth place in the Campos Racing car. Conor Daly had managed a terrific start to the race, propelling his Venezuela GP Lazarus up from 13th to seventh place in the opening laps but he was now under sustained pressure from Rapax's Adrian Quaife-Hobbs.
Heading into the final laps, everyone was waiting for tyre degradation to kick in and open up some overtaking opportunities. The cooler and more overcast conditions on Sunday morning compared with the previous days at the Hungaroring had meant that the rubber held up better than expected, but the final laps saw a number of overtaking moves ranging from the impressive to the unfortunate.
MP Motorsport's Marco Sorensen was on the receiving end when he found himself drifting across the track two laps from the end, making it an easy matter for Marciello to pass him for tenth place. By contrast MP Motorsport's Daniel de Jong attempted a clearly over-ambitious lunge down the inside of on DAMS' Stenphane Richelmi only to end up making contact with Julian Leal and sending the Carlin into spin; fortunately all three cars were able to get going again.
There was also a needless final lap clash between Artem Markelov (Russian Time) and Takuya Izawa (ART) that sent them both cars into the barrier after they attempyed to run three-wide with Arden's Rene Binder; and that was followed by contact between Quaife-Hobbs and Caterham's Tom Dillmann when the Frenchman tried a Hail Mary pass for eighth only to end up sending both cars bouncing over the chicane kerbing at turn 6, leaving Dillmann stranded and unable to get going again. Campos Racing's Kimiya Sato also retired before the finish, although in his case it was an apparent mechanical issue that forced him to pull the car off the track.
Palmer had planned to conserve his tyres for a final push on Vandoorne in the closing laps, but when he tried to apply the pressure he found that the Belgian driver was still more than able to respond and maintain his comfort margin at the front. Vandoorne even set the fastest laptime on the final lap of the race to seal the deal as he crossed the line over three seconds clear of Palmer. Instead it was the Briton who ended up being the one to struggle with his tyres, and he was only just able to hang on to second ahead of a resurgent Nasr, who ran out of time before he could get within overtaking distance.
That meant Palmer was able to celebrate extending his lead in the GP2 drivers championship over a still-simmering Nasr to a massive 43 points, while Vandoorne's Sunday win helps propel him into third place ahead of Cecotto, Coletti and Mitch Evans all of whom emerged from Hungary without any points at all from either race. Vandoorne's success also helps ART move up into third place in the team championship ahead of Racing Engineering, while DAMS' lead over Carlin has been slightly extended to 17pts going into the August break.
The next race in the GP2 calendar is at Spa-Francorchamps on 22-24 August.
See full Sunday sprint race 2 results