Di Grassi powers to victory in Hungary
Lucas di Grassi has opened his win account for the year in fine form at the Hungaroring today, taking the lead at the first corner and then holding on despite race long pressure from Andreas Zuber to take the checkered flag by just 0.7 seconds to put himself third in the championship, with Bruno Senna rounding out the podium and closing the gap on championship leader Giorgio Pantano.
The win was set up at the start when di Grassi made his now customary storming getaway, along with teammate Vitaly Petrov, while poleman Romain Grosjean was very slow to get started: the Brazilian went inside Zuber at the first turn to claim the lead and tore off down the road with the Russian playing wingman, while Senna's equally impressive start put him up four place to fourth on the first lap, just behind Zuber.
A lap later and Pantano was not waiting around, pulling a move around the outside of Grosjean at turn 4: the pair came together and the Italian was spun around before restarting at the back of the field, while the Frenchman came straight back to the pits to have a flat tire changed, and Mike Conway managed to sneak through Karun Chandhok for fifth place in the melee.
The pitstop strategy was always going to be vital at this circuit, with many teams heading in early to get some clear air and make up some ground, a move that was short circuited largely by the number of other teams who had the same idea. In fact by the time that Grosjean came in for his more regular stop on lap 15 every driver bar Pastor Maldonado, who started last after failing to make qualifying yesterday but was now running first on the road, had their stops out of the way and it was a straight fight for the flag.
Leading that challenge behind the Venezuelan was di Grassi, who had Zuber all over his rear once more, but the Brazilian was equal to the challenge and held on for dear life, with Petrov losing out slightly at the stop following on behind them until lap 23, when he sadly retired with a mechanical gremlin, handing the potential podium position to Senna. Conway and Buemi were equally engrossed in battle, and it was anyone's guess who would come out on top.
But when the checkered flag dropped it was di Grassi who was punching the air in delight as he cross the line just ahead of Zuber, with Senna a further 3 seconds behind. Chandhok finished fourth after a smart pitstop allowed him to pull away from his earlier fight with Conway, while a smart strategy, a lot of fast laps and a late stop handed Maldonado a strong fifth place, a great reward for an impressive drive. Conway just held on to sixth ahead of Buemi, while Andy Soucek soaked up heavy late race pressure from Jerome D'Ambrosio to claim tomorrow's pole position.
And the new race winner had more reason to be delighted: while Pantano holds on to his championship lead he was unable to add to his 63 point haul, Senna pushed up to 54 points but di Grassi broke into the top three for the first time this year with 38 points, two ahead of his RDD compatriot Grosjean.
Pos Driver Team Time/Behind
1. Di Grassi Campos 1:04:35.028
2. Zuber Piquet Sports + 0.711
3. Senna iSport + 3.611
4. Chandhok iSport + 19.046
5. Maldonado Piquet Sports + 21.883
6. Conway Trident + 33.375
7. Buemi Arden + 33.621
8. Soucek Super Nova + 36.911
9. d'Ambrosio Dams + 37.211
10. Yamamoto ART + 48.359
11. Kobayashi Dams + 49.634
12. Nunes DPR + 56.490
13. Villa Racing Engineering + 57.463
14. Pantano Racing Engineering + 1:01.492
15. Filippi Arden + 1:11.941
16. Parente Super Nova + 1:29.672
17. Grosjean ART + 1 Lap
18. Asmer FMS + 1 Lap
19. Rodriguez FMS + 1 Lap
Driver Team On lap
Petrov Campos 23
Herck DPR 13
Valsecchi Durango 7
Tung Trident 1
Valles BCN Competicion 1
Iaconelli BCN Competicion 0
Valerio Durango 0
Fastest lap: Grosjean, 1:29.793 on lap 17