Photo: Renault Sport/DPPI
Red Bull Junior’s stunning season continues as Danish ace is robbed of victory in second Hungaroring FR3.5 race, having come second in opening encounter to Robin Frijns, who extends his points lead…
Formula Renault 3.5
With the series going to Hungaroring, a track where it is notoriously hard to overtake, qualifying sessions proved to be more important than ever. On Saturday, points leader Robin Frijns beat Kevin Magnussen to pole by 0.028s and proceeded to convert that into a dominant win. Magnussen finished second in what was a terribly processional race with the only real movement happening at the start. Jules Bianchi finished in third, where he started, ahead of Antonio Felix da Costa. Arthur Pic was fifth, ahead of Nico Muller, Carlos Huertas and Marco Sorensen, whose race was badly damaged by a lacklustre start. Alexander Rossi and Sam Bird completed the top ten.
On Sunday, however, race two proved to be a whole different ball game. Again Frijns narrowly bested Magnussen for pole, this time by a ridiculous 0.007s. However, a terrible start from the pole man that saw him drop from first to fifth in one corner gave Magnussen the lead. Magnussen did a great job of leading the race for the allotted 45 minutes but then, just like Sorensen last time out at Silverstone, struggled with the whole “+1 lap” thing. Coming into the last lap with a three second lead over Felix da Costa, Magnussen’s car was already noticeably emitting a lot of white smoke. And then, just as he went through sector one, the car gave up, with Magnussen being left no choice but to park it in the gravel. As such, Felix da Costa took his first race victory in this series in only his eighth start. The podium was completed by Sorensen and Will Stevens. Bird held Frijns off for fourth, while Pic came in sixth. Kevin Korjus managed seventh in his first weekend for Lotus after his spell with Tech 1 was controversially cut short by his management at Gravity. Rossi, Bianchi and Walter Grubmuller completed the top ten.
The Hungaroring round also saw three drivers from this year’s GP3 lineup have their Formula Renault 3.5 debuts. “Local hero” Tamas Pal Kiss, racing for BVM Target, managed nineteenth and eleventh. Daniel Abt, who replaced Korjus at Tech 1, came in eighteenth in race one, but ended up two laps down on the leaders in race two due to mechanical problems. Abt’s GP3 teammate, Aaro Vainio, did not finish his first race for Team RFR before finishing in eighteenth in the second one.
Next round of the championship will take place at Paul Ricard in two weeks. Heading into the penultimate round of the season, Frijns leads Bianchi by 24 points, with Bird a further three behind.
Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0
Saturday saw Stoffel Vandoorne take pole position in a dominant fashion, beating everyone in Group B by more than 0.5s. Mikko Pakari lined up alongside him on the front row, with Jordan King and Daniil Kvyat right behind the two. The top three ended up finishing the race in position (Vandoorne ahead of Pakari and King) with the Belgian taking a dominant victory. Vandoorne’s impressive performance, however, ended up all the more important when Kvyat, his main title rival, lost his car while trying to overtake Oliver Rowland which ended the race for the Russian. As such, Nyck de Vries finished fourth ahead of Alex Riberas and Norman Nato, while Oscar Tunjo, Melville McKee, Pieter Schothorst and Javier Tarancon completed the top ten.
With his DNF in race one, Kvyat was eager to bounce back on Sunday. The Red Bull Junior Team driver did just that, taking pole position (as de Vries lined up alongside him) and winning the race confidently. De Vries managed second with Nato grabbing third ahead of Vandoorne. McKee finished in fifth ahead of Rowland and Tunjo. Tarancon, Stefan Wackerbauer and Riberas completed the top ten.
The championship will go to Paul Ricard for its penultimate round on September 28-30. Vandoorne now has the lead with 183 points with Kvyat 11 points behind. Going by the form displayed by the two, this should be a close one.
Riccardo Agostini might have come into the Vallelunga round third in the standings but, three races later, he is leading the championship by a comfortable margin. On Saturday, Agostini put himself on pole for the two feature races of the round and then won the first one, finishing right ahead of his main title rivals – Brandon Maisano in second and Eddie Cheever, Jr. in third. In race two, Agostini only managed third with race winner Kevin Giovesi and Maisano both getting ahead of him, while Henrique Martins and Cheever completed the top five. In the reverse grid race, won by Nicholas Latifi (who took his first win in the series), Agostini managed second. That, coupled with a bad race for Cheever (only seventh place) and a retirement for Maisano (whose race was over on lap one, as it was for Martins and Maisano), has solidified his position in the standings. Mario Marasca completed the podium for the third race while Michael Heche took fourth in his first race weekend of the year after Sergey Sirotkin retired on the final lap with mechanical problems.
The season will wrap up at Monza on 19-21 October. Agostini has the lead with 241 points but Maisano and Cheever are still both very much in this with 229 and 227 points respectively.
Just as with Italian F3, the Vallelunga round of Formula Abarth was the penultimate round of the championship. This little factoid is far from the only similarity between the two rounds, as Formula Abarth also saw the man who entered the weekend in third in the standings take the lead after three races.
After securing pole for both feature races of the weekend, Nicolas Costa won the first one with relative ease ahead of Emanuele Zonzini and Santiago Urrutia. The two drivers who were in the lead of the championship at that point – Bruno Bonifacio and Luca Ghiotto – ended up colliding and severely damaging each other’s races. Bonifacio was handed a drive through for the accident and, after serving it, didn’t manage to recover any places, finishing in eleventh. However, that eleventh soon became tenth when Ghiotto, who finished sixth on the road, was handed a DSQ for overtaking under the safety car.
Costa had a similar second race, also winning it without much incident, as Zonzini overtook Ghiotto to take another second. Bonifacio, having started from fourth, ended up finishing one place lower, behind Kevin Jorg.
The third race saw Scotsman Gregor Ramsay take his first Formula Abarth victory from reverse grid pole. Jorg and Costa completed the podium with Ghiotto in sixth and Bonifacio far down in twelfth.
The final round will take place at Monza on 28-30 September. Costa has the lead with 244 points but Ghiotto could be close enough with 227. Bonifacio, who has 215 points, will have to pull off something incredible, but is likely to also be a factor.
Championship leader Jimmy Eriksson came into the Nurburgring round with a very real opportunity to seal the title yet ultimately came three points short of establishing the gap that would see him preemptively crowned as the series champion.
To kick off what ended up being a fairly unremarkable weekend for him, Eriksson qualified in fourth and third for the two feature races, while pole position in both went to Tom Blomqvist. In race one, Blomqvist converted his pole into a dominant win, picking up the fastest lap along the way. Rising Austrian star Lucas Auer overpowered Kimiya Sato for second while Eriksson finished just outside the podium.
Reverse grid poleman Rene Binder ended up winning race two, yet his race win was somewhat overshadowed by a collision that involved Eriksson and Blomqvist. Running in the midfield on lap one, Eriksson ended up running into the back of Sato, ending his race and collecting Blomqvist along the way. Mitchell Gilbert and Luca Stolz completed the podium while championship contenders Auer and Sato finished in fourth and sixth.
Blomqvist took another commandeering victory in race three ahead of Auer and Eriksson, while Sato lost his mathematical title chances by finishing down in eleventh.
The final round of the season will take place at Hockenheimring on 28-30 September. The title fight, with Eriksson leading Auer by 72 points and 75 available, is effectively over, but second, between Auer, Sato and Gilbert, is still up for grabs.
ADAC Formel Masters
After two terrible weekends in a row for Marvin Kirchhofer that saw him lose the championship lead, he was back in great form at Nurburgring. The Lotus driver took pole position for both race one and two and then successfully converted that into two victories. The real standout performance from him this weekend, however, came in race three, where he moved from reverse grid eighth into second to score a number of crucial championship points.
However, even the kind of excellent performance displayed by Kirchhofer over the weekend did not allow him to regain the lead. Current points leader Gustav Malja also had a stellar weekend, not once finishing outside of the podium in the three races. In race one, Malja managed third behind Hendrik Grapp, while in race two he held on to second ahead of Thomas Jager. The reverse grid race saw him finish behind the winner – Grapp – but also, importantly, Kirchhofer, but his consistency allowed him to lose minimal points before the final round of the season.
The aforementioned final round will take place at Hockenheimring in two weeks. With three races to go and 65 points up for grabs, Malja is leading Kirchhofer by two points.
Formula Pilota China
Antonio Giovinazzi and Dan Wells entered the Guangdong round as the two main title contenders yet neither of them had a particularly standout weekend, even compared to the other drivers in the series. Giovinazzi put himself on pole for the first race of the weekend, but it was Parth Ghorpade who led the race after lap one after Sean Gelael? ran into the pole man who, in turn, forced Wells wide. After taking the lead, Ghorpade never gave it up and took his first series win. Ren Nagabuchi and Zou Sirui completed the podium as Giovinazzi and Wells finished way down the order, the first having severe car problems and the second losing lots of time to a tyre change he needed as a result of colliding with Raj Bharath.
The mayhem continued in the second race, as Wells started from pole thanks to the fastest lap in race one but was spun into turn one as a result of collision involving Nagabuchi and Ghorpade. Despite the incident, it was Nagabuchi who took the win, with Zou and Bharath completing the podium after Giovinazzi and Gelael spun out. Wells ended his recovery drive in fifth.
Race three saw Ghorpade start from pole and lead from start to finish with Giovinazzi and Gelael finally getting on the podium in a weekend to forget for both.
There?s two rounds to go in the championship after this one, both of them taking place at Sepang. The first one of those is scheduled to take place on November 4th.
PaddockScout Driver of the Weekend: Kevin Magnussen – while he won’t have the points to show for it, the Hungaroring weekend was a brilliant display by Kevin. On pace the entire time, missing out on pole by hilariously small margins, he confidently drove to second in the first race and was well on his way to winning the second one before his car gave up on him. There have been other drivers this weekend who have done a marvellous job and seriously boosted their championship chances (Kirchhofer, Agostini and Felix da Costa) but the result that Magnussen was robbed of through no fault of his own seems to be most impressive.
Next weekend: The GP2 Series season concludes under the lights in Singapore, where either Davide Valsecchi or Luiz Razia will be crowned champion.