Nico Müller grabs maiden pole in Budapest
Jenzer Motorsport’s Nico Müller has claimed his first GP3 pole position in a dramatic qualifying session this morning at the Hungaroring.
The Swiss driver continued from where he left off yesterday and posted his quickest time of 1:36.991 in the late stages of the session seconds before ART Grand Prix’s Esteban Gutierrez crossed the finish line matching the Swiss’ time exactly. When the checkered flag fell the top four drivers were within a mere four tenths of each other and the top 21 drivers were split by just one second in the tight session.
The thirty minute qualifications opened on a damp track after overnight rain, and the entire grid came straight out the pits when the lights turned green. Muller was first to set a quick time, but as the track dried the times quickly dropped and it was Tech 1 Racing’s Doru Sechelariu who set the initial pace along with Manor Racing’s Adrian Quaife-Hobbs and Carlin’s newcomer Antonio Felix Da Costa.
Series leader Gutierrez wasted no time in responding and by the half way point had posted the quickest time of the session. Dean Smith and again Sechelariu were both pushing hard and capitalized on their efforts by grabbing the top two spots, but it was short lived. Mexican Gutierrez obliterated the top time set by Smith by nearly half a second setting the bench mark for the rest of the field.
Now on new rubber and the track drying quickly in the rising temperatures, the field set about catching Gutierrez in the second half of the session. The final few minutes of the session were one of most thrilling in a qualifying session this year, and it was a shootout between Gutierrez, Muller, Smith, Status GP’s Robert Wickens and Tech 1 Racing’s Stefano Coletti who shot up the timesheets.
With just three minutes left in the session Muller went top by a massive half a second. Wickens immediately tried to respond but couldn’t match the Swiss driver’s pace, and then in the final dramatic seconds Gutierrez crossed the line matching the pole time exactly: unfortunately for the Mexican he misses out on the top spot and bonus points because he set the time second. Coletti held on to his third place and Wickens had to settle for fourth.
Smith posted the fifth quickest time of qualifying but will line-up sixth after receiving a post practice penalty for taking the checkered flag twice. Sechelariu had his best qualifying session of the season finishing in sixth. Status GP’s Daniel Morad, RSC Mucke Motorsport’s Tobias Hegewald, Felix Da Costa and Addax Team’s Mirko Bortolotti rounded out the top ten.
||Antonio Felix da Costa
||Renger van der Zande
||Pablo Sanchez Lopez