After being fastest in qualifying, the Kiwi can't quite make it happen in the World Series Renault race
Ten cars were sidelined and the safety car was deployed twice in a chaotic World Series Renault 3.5 race at the Hungaroring overnight. New Zealand’s Brendon Hartley was running fifth until he was hit from behind by Jaime Alguersuari.
Hartley’s Red Bull car dropped to the back of the field after being spun out but recovered to finish 13th. Pasquale di Sabatino held his nerve to take a surprise victory in the confusing 25-lap race. Starting from 15th on the grid, the Italian was one of several drivers to benefit from an early pitstop.
By pitting before the safety car neutralized the race, DiSabatino, Marco Barba, Julian Leal, Kiwi Chris Van der Drift and Michael Herck executed the perfect – if unwitting – race strategy. They lucked in when a safety car period followed almost immediately afterwards.
Having opted for a very early change of tyres, DiSabatino took advantage of the incident-packed race to claim his first win in Formula Renault 3.5 Series, ahead of Barba and Leal, the three on the same race strategy.
Chris van der Drift finished fourth on the road for Epsilon Euskadi, but the Formula Master Champion's result was provisional because the Kiwi tipped Adrian Zaugg into a spin at Turn 10 on the opening lap.
In race one, challenging for the lead into the first corner, Brendon Hartley was forced wide and spun around in a frustrating World Series Renault 3.5 race for the New Zealander at the Hungaroring circuit in Budapest over the weekend.
Hartley had been fastest in his qualifying group earlier in the day and started the 28 lap Hungarian race from third place on the grid. He fought back to 17th at the finish and clearly set the fastest lap of the race.
“We were fast today and should have been on the podium but going into the first corner Fairuz Fauzy locked up his tyres under braking. He slid deep into the corner and that ran me wide onto the dirty part of the track,” said Hartley.
“I wanted to brake late on the outside but then I couldn’t turn into the corner; I was forced wide onto the marbles avoiding Fauzy and that caused my brakes to lock up."
Fauzy survived to win the race while Hartley’s Red Bull car dropped to 24th place in the 26-car field. However, the 19-year-old then began a rapid recovery. He set the fastest lap of the race on just the fourth lap, when the car was still heavy with fuel, and by the end he was again the fastest driver.
Finally running in clear air during the last two laps, Hartley put in lap times that were over a second faster than any other driver at that point of the race.
His early fastest race lap was three tenths of a second faster than anyone else achieved during the race. Hartley will start tonight’s second race in Hungary from sixth place on the grid.
Fauzy led the race from start to finish to take his first win in Formula Renault 3.5 Series. The Malay driver survived his lurid first corner lock-up and, in spite of a mid-race safety car intervention, held off Marco Barba and Bertrand Baguette all the way to the chequered flag.
The victory is Fauzy's first in almost three years in the category, and returns him to the winners' circle for the first time since last year's opening A1GP event at Zandvoort.
Fauzy started the first race on pole position ahead of Barba, Hartley and Baguette; the top eight in reverse order following the Top Twelve Super Pole session.
After the first corner incident, he led all the way, chased by Barba, Baguette, James Walker and Jaime Alguersuari. Further back, Michaël Herck hit the pit wall at the start after making contact with Federico Leo.
The four leaders quickly created a gap. Behind them, Alguersuari had to contend with Marcos Martinez and Miguel Molina. At the front, the positions stabilized with seven cars spread over just six seconds, until the safety car intervened on lap 18 after Filip Salaquarda went off the track.
At the restart Fauzy held his lead over Barba, Baguette, Walker and Alguersuari. Further back Marcos Martinez was chased hard by Miguel Molina, Oliver Turvey and Jon Lancaster.
Baguette’s third place enabled him to close the gap on championship leader Marcos Martinez to five points. The Belgian battled wheel-to-wheel with his team-mate into Turn 2 on the opening lap, but then struggled with severe understeer. Baguette's dramas allowed James Walker to close within half a second at the flag.
New Zealand driver Chris van der Drift finished in 13th place after being 23rd fastest in the split qualifying sessions on Saturday morning.