Andrea Kimi Antonelli was on course for his first Formula Regional European Championship win last Saturday at the Hungaroring, before a gear selection issue undid his victory hopes.
The Prema driver qualified third, and was already fighting for the lead on the run down to turn one on the opening lap. As he was on the outside line he could not get head, but then had the inside for the turn two left-hander and took the lead.
After that he led the field away on a restart after a safety car period, and was 1.1 seconds ahead of R-ace GP’s poleman Martinius Stenshorne on lap seven when he slowed at turn one and then went off the track. That dropped him to fourth, and then he lost another spot later in the lap.
Antonelli was consigned to fifth place thereon, and the team explained to Formula Scout post-race that Antonelli had been unable to switch up from fourth gear, so moved over out of the way of his chasers.
When the issue struck again he was passed by another car, but the problem then seemed to solve itself. Prema was unsure of the cause of the issue on Saturday evening, and come Sunday still had no answers on the cause of the issue and if it could strike again.
Antonelli qualified eighth on Sunday, and turned that into seventh place in race two to leave the weekend second in the standings.
“Not a great weekend from the [pre-event] test where we were struggling quite a bit,” reflected the Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 junior.
“On Friday we started to be a bit better, even though a wing issue while doing a qualifying simulation meant that I wasn’t really able to try the new tyre. On Saturday we didn’t really know what to expect in qualifying but we still managed to get a P2 in the group and P3 overall.
“The start of race one was really good, and I got to the lead but unfortunately, I had a technical issue which left me stuck in fourth gear. I lost the lead and some other places and finished P5. It was quite frustrating because we lost quite a bit of points.
“Qualifying 2 didn’t go as planned and we finished P5 in group and P10 overall, otherwise with a strong pace we could have fought for pole. Then we knew it would have been hard to recover as here it’s hard to overtake.
“It was a clean race, we stayed out of trouble and finished in P7, it was damage limitation. I’m also not totally happy with my performance as I didn’t have a perfect feeling with the track and car this weekend. We have a week to reset and come back stronger at Spa-Francorchamps, a track I really like and where we can do really good.”