Felix da Costa scores incredible double GP3 victory at the Hungaroring
|By Charles Bradley||Sunday, July 29th 2012, 08:23 GMT|
Antonio Felix da Costa completed an incredible double victory in the GP3 Series at the Hungaroring after a sensational victory in the second race.
The Portuguese driver followed up his win from yesterday by giving Carlin its fourth international single-seater success of the weekend, after taking a perfectly-timed pitstop for slicks on a drying track.
Morning thunderstorms meant the track was wet at the start, but sunny conditions at start-time meant it was always going to dry throughout the 16-lap race. Most of the cars started on wets, but nine of those towards the rear of the field took a slick-tyre gamble right from the off.
The action started thick and fast for the MW Arden team, as Matias Laine beat pole-sitting team-mate David Fumanelli away from the line, while its third car of points leader Mitch Evans spun at Turn 1, having been clipped by Daniel Abt off the start and possibly suffering a punctured his left-rear tyre.
Fumanelli spun into the barrier out of second place exiting Turn 2, leaving Laine clear of Lotus duo Conor Daly and Aaro Vainio. Kevin Ceccon (Ocean) had been fourth, but local hero Tamas Pal Kiss overtook him for fourth place on lap two.
Da Costa ran seventh early on, but quickly passed Ceccon and Abt, and was running fifth when he pitted for slicks on the half-distance lap. This was in reaction to those who started on slicks setting faster laptimes, and with no more rain on the horizon, pitstops came thick and fast.
The leaders remained locked-into their wet-tyre strategy, however, with Laine repeatedly defending from Daly. Whenever the American challenged him, Laine simply pushed him wide and off the track. With three laps to go, Vainio passed Daly for second around the outside of Turn 1, and was poised to take a huge chunk out of Evans's points lead, as the Kiwi's early switch to slicks was hampered by a costly spin at the chicane. He finished 21st, but set fastest lap on the final tour.
As the race entered its closing laps, the slick-shod cars were lapping over 10s per lap faster than those on their well-hammered wets, and da Costa was the first of the slick runners on track. He carved his way past Abt, Daly, Vainio and Laine in quick succession, and pulled away to win by over 11s.
Patric Niederhauser pulled a forceful last-lap pass on Kiss for second with just a handful of corners remaining, a just reward for his gamble of starting on slicks. Alex Brundle was an excellent fourth, ahead of Tio Ellinas - both of whom started on slicks.
Lewis Williamson was a pitter, and finished sixth, ahead of wet-devotees Laine and Vainio, the latter taking just one point out of Evans's points lead when it could have been so much more.
Evans now leads on 136 points to Vainio's 118, with da Costa firmly in the frame on 102 with four races remaining.
Results - 16 laps:
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Antonio Felix da Costa Carlin 30m36.220s 2. Patric Niederhauser Jenzer + 11.929s 3. Tamas Pal Kiss Atech CRS + 12.289s 4. Alex Brundle Carlin + 13.440s 5. Tio Ellinas Manor + 18.987s 6. Lewis Williamson Status + 19.505s 7. Matias Laine MW Arden + 21.609s 8. Aaro Vainio Lotus + 22.052s 9. Kevin Ceccon Ocean + 25.392s 10. Conor Daly Lotus + 29.260s 11. Daniel Abt Lotus + 37.146s 12. Will Buller Carlin + 37.150s 13. Marlon Stockinger Status + 38.616s 14. Robert Cregan Ocean + 39.674s 15. Alex Fontana Jenzer + 48.584s 16. Dmitry Suranovich Manor + 50.483s 17. Ethan Ringel Atech CRS + 59.255s 18. Facu Regalia Atech CRS + 1m03.947s 19. Vicky Piria Trident + 1m12.457s 20. Alice Powell Status + 1m22.641s 21. Mitch Evans MW Arden + 1m31.650s 22. Robert Visoiu Jenzer + 1 lap Retirements: Carmen Jorda Ocean 13 laps Giovanni Venturini Trident 12 laps David Fumanelli MW Arden 0 laps