At a circuit where his father won twice in Formula One, Nelson Piquet Jr trounced the GP2 Series field to give his championship chances a welcome boost after the Hockenheim nightmare of last week.

Starting from pole position, the Brazilian streaked away from the pack at more than a second a lap and, with his Piquet Sports team executing a faultless pit-stop, recorded a margin of victory in excess of thirty seconds. To make matters all the sweeter for Piquet, his main title rival, Lewis Hamilton, was mired deep in the pack - and picking up a drive-thru penalty - enabling the Brazilian to maximise his return.

Piquet held on to his position at the start, beating Jose Maria Lopez into turn one, but there was drama for the Argentine, who tangled with the fast-starting Michael Ammermuller, pitching the Arden man into a spin and retirement. That allowed Adam Carroll to sneak into second spot, followed by Gianmaria Bruni, Giorgio Pantano and Alex Negrao, before Lopez came through. Ernesto Viso also made the most of the mayhem, slotting into seventh from eleventh on the grid, before then taking the still recovering Lopez on lap three.

Hamilton, meanwhile, had made a storming start to claw back ten places over his 26th grid slot but, opting to make an early stop for tyres when the pits opened on lap two, incurred the stewards' wrath by momentarily exceeding the speed limit, and had to return to the pits for a drive-thru' that dropped him back to 22nd.

Piquet continued to turn the screw by lapping at more than a second a lap faster than his rivals, and was ten seconds ahead by the end of lap eight. Carroll was similarly gapping Bruni, as the top eight spread itself out. Arden's day had gone from bad to worse as Lapierre spun himself out of the chasing pack, rejoining well down the field, while man-of-the-moment Timo Glock homed in on Lopez as he attempted to atone for being out-fumbled at the start.

The German's mandatory pit-stop dropped him back out of the points, but put himself into prime position as the leader among those to have opted for an early stop. Those further back having opted for similar tactics found themselves bottled up behind the mobile chicane known as Jason Tahinci, the Turk defending for all he was worth en route to a very late stop. Both ART cars were among those delayed, although Alex Premat at least made it through in time to pursue points.

Pantano was the first of the frontrunners to stop for fresh rubber but, with Bruni stopping next time around, was unable to prise his fellow Italian from the final podium position. Both, however, slotted back in behind Glock, giving the iSport man the advantage. Piquet, meanwhile, was now 17secs ahead of Carroll - with just 13 laps in the book.

Viso's pit-stop brought him back out in eighth, another to succumb to his team-mate, but it was Carroll's entrance that caught the eye, the Briton sideways as he headed for the Racing Engineering bay. Whether the moment or the pit-stop was to blame, Carroll again found himself shuffled down the order by the time he resumed, ninth spot unlikely to yield a repeat win for Alfonso d'Orleans Borbon's team after Neel Jani's victory of 2005.

When Negrao pitted from second, the Spanish outfit's rookie, Javier Villa, found himself in the rarefied air of chief pursuer to Piquet, but the teenager's race was to go little further than pit-exit on lap 17 as he locked up and slithered into the luckless Felix Porteiro at turn one, scratching two Spaniards.

Piquet finally made his obligatory pit-call on lap 18 but, such was his advantage, was able to rejoin and continue his escape. The Brazilian was among the last to switch tyres on what is often a tough track for rubber, and had a still sizeable advantage over the reshaped top eight, which Glock led from Bruni, Pantano, Viso, Negrao, Premat and Carroll.

Hamilton was still struggling to make up ground on the points positions, although he was now back into 16th spot and battling with former F3 Euroseries rival Lucas di Grassi for another spot. The battle highlighted the traditional struggle to overtake at the Hungaroring, as the pair ran nose-to-tail for many laps before Hamilton finally squeezed through.

The Briton's biggest problem now was that the field had become strung out, but he quickly disposed of Luca Filippi to move into twelfth, which then became eleventh as Bruni retired from his battle with Pantano for third.

Hamilton's next target was Ferdinando Monfardini but, having toiled behind the tardy Tahinci - and nearly been taken out on numerous occasions as the pack jostled around him - the Italian was in no mood to accede lightly. Instead, he defended resolutely and, as a result, prevented the points leader from rising any higher than tenth, despite eventually getting around the DAMS entry.

With Piquet easing to win number two for the season - and his first since Valencia in April - the focus shifted to the opposite end of the points, where Carroll had Lopez and Franck Perera for company throughout the closing stages. All was not well for the ill-fated Argentine driver, and his engine started smoking several laps from home. Unable to do anything about the man he succeeded at Super Nova, Lopez turned his attention to fending off Perera, something he managed to do to the flag, giving himself pole for Sunday's sprint.

Piquet duly took the flag some 33secs clear of Glock, with the German comfortably ahead of Pantano, who returned FMS to the podium. Viso, who had moved up to fourth when Bruni expired, had Negrao for closer company, but controlled the gap back to the Brazilian to record his third fourth place in a row.

"I tried to push, but my engineer told me the times Nelson was doing, and I couldn't do the pace," Glock admitted later, "It's good for the championship, and maybe we can get third position in the standings from the weekend."

With Hamilton failing to score - the Briton opting to pursue a pole position start on Sunday over a the bonus point for pole - Piquet effectively halved the gap between them at the head of the standings. The pair will start two places apart in the shorter event, but it is the Brazilian who appears to have the pace - and the upper hand - this weekend.

"I don't know what to say really," Piquet smiled, "Everything worked perfectly. That's how every driver wants to do a weekend, and that's how I wish to finish the championship, to drive like that every time."

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