Home News Nato jumps title contenders to get second FR3.5 win in Hungary

Nato jumps title contenders to get second FR3.5 win in Hungary

by Peter Allen
Norman Nato

Photo: Eric Vargiolu/DPPI

Norman Nato caused an upset in the second Formula Renault 3.5 race of the weekend at the Hungaroring, getting the jump on title contenders Roberto Merhi and Carlos Sainz at the start to get his second win in the category.

The race had been billed as a fight between the front row starers form man Merhi and points leader Sainz, but the latter’s DAMS team-mate Nato got the best start from third on the grid to pull into the lead into turn one.

Behind that, there was multi-car collision that ended with Oscar Tunjo upside down in the run-off area. It appeared to be triggered by Sergey Sirotkin and Will Stevens banging wheels on the inside of the corner, sending Sirotkin to his left and taking out Nicholas Latifi, Tunjo and Will Buller.

A lengthy safety car was necessary to extract Tunjo from his car, and there were 26 minutes remaining when the race resumed.

Nato, who had friend Jules Bianchi on hand to support him, stayed out later than Merhi to make his mandatory pitstop, but was able to continue in the lead. Merhi suddenly lost time in the middle sector with a few laps to go, giving Nato a two-second breathing space, but Merhi would close back up to within half a second before the finish.

Sainz had dropped to fifth exiting the first corner after his car made a slow exit, putting him behind Oliver Rowland and Meindert van Buuren.

Sainz and fellow Red Bull Junior Pierre Gasly opted for an early pitstop to get out of traffic, but Rowland was able to rejoin just ahead of them once he made his stop. As that happened, Sainz ran deep at the first corner, allowing Gasly to nip through.

Gasly would go on to pass Rowland on the pit straight for the second successive race, and was within a second of Merhi when the Spaniard lost time, but had to settle for his sixth podium finish of the campaign.

Rowland finished a further ten seconds back in fourth, under late pressure from van Buuren, who showed his sixth-place starting position was no fluke, staying out in the lead before pitting and rejoining in fifth to score his best result in the series and his first points since Spa.

Sainz lacked the pace to keep up with van Buuren and had to withstand the attention of Matthieu Vaxiviere in order to finish sixth. With two rounds remaining, Sainz’s lead has now dropped to 16 points over Merhi, who could make his Formula 1 race debut with Caterham in Singapore next weekend.

Jazeman Jaafar, Marco Sorensen and Stevens completed the top ten.

Race results
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
1 Norman Nato DAMS 24 laps in 42:35.846
2 Roberto Merhi Zeta Corse +0.424
3 Pierre Gasly Arden Motorsport +2.819
4 Oliver Rowland Fortec Motorsports +12.539
5 Meindert van Buuren Pons Racing +14.193
6 Carlos Sainz DAMS +16.114
7 Matthieu Vaxiviere Lotus +17.077
8 Jazeman Jaafar ISR +21.889
9 Marco Sorensen Tech 1 Racing +22.937
10 Will Stevens Strakka Racing +23.826
11 Pietro Fantin International Draco Racing +24.877
12 Beitske Visser AVF +28.338
13 Matias Laine Strakka Racing +29.576
14 Marlon Stockinger Lotus +30.002
15 Zoel Amberg AVF +30.563
16 Roman Mavlanov Zeta Corse +38.888
17 Cameron Twynham Comtec Racing +38.957
18 Nicholas Latifi Tech 1 Racing +40.923
19 Luca Ghiotto International Draco Racing +43.279
Not classified
Sergey Sirotkin Fortec Motorsports +23 laps
William Buller Arden Motorsport +24 laps
Oscar Tunjo Pons Racing +24 laps
Esteban Ocon Comtec Racing Did not start