Junqueira takes pole in title race

Astoundingly, it rained at the Hungaroring! Less astoundingly, the wet stuff fell just before the first qualifying session for the Hungarian round of the International F3000 championship. And given the amount of weather disruption the series has faced this year, this should have come as absolutely no surprise at all, even given the usually clement weather at the track

Junqueira takes pole in title race

Mercifully, this did not introduce a huge element of uncertainty into the proceedings, but it must have had the title protagonists worried - Nicolas Minassian and Bruno Junqueira have arrived with two races to go and equal on points and countback. Predictably, both were desperate for a straight fight to the final flag.

It was Junqueira, the Brazilian racing for the WilliamsF1 backed Petrobras Jr squad who gave himself the best chance of taking a series lead into the final round when he took a hard fought pole from upstarts Justin Wilson and Fernando Alonso late in the session, while Minassian seemed to struggle on his way to fourth. Nevertheless, the Super Nova driver is far from out for the count.

Junqueira set the early running on a damp-but-drying track, but soon dropped down the order as Kevin McGarrity took a brief moment in the spotlight in his Nordic prepared car. The real star of qualifying however was Astromega's Fernando Alonso. The young Spaniard has displayed phenomenal speed at times during the season, and has built steadily throughout his rookie year. He looked easily capable of fighting for pole, despite never having seen the track before, and was in the running right until the end.

In both sessions he hit the top of the times, displacing Junqueira on both occasions. For a rookie to be fighting with a championship contender is no mean feat, and Alonso should be well pleased with his eventual third place. It could have been higher had the Spaniard's wild streak, often seen in his Formula Nissan days not reasserted itself and left him in the barriers with ten minutes to go.

Mark Webber kept his distant dreams of a championship title alive for part of the session, fighting amongst the top runners early on. As Minassian steadily dragged himself up from 22nd, to ninth, then fifth and an eventual fourth, Webber hovered around the top three before sliding down the order to an eventual 11th. It will now take a miracle for the Australian to win the title, as he needs to win both remaining races and have Minassian and Junqueira score no more than a point each.

Another early front runner who could not maintain his form was David Saelens who initially outpaced Super Nova team-mate Minassian, before winding up a disappointed 13th.

Meanwhile, Englishmen Darren Manning and Justin Wilson had their cars hooked up and set some impressive times. Rookie Manning jumped to fourth before being displaced by Wilson, who took provisional pole on his next lap. Junqueira had it all to do again, but proved equal to the task and set his fourth provisional pole time, by 0.3s over Wilson.

Junqueira's team-mate Jaime Melo crashed in the first session and failed to qualify.

There were mixed fortunes for the latest drivers to join the team switch merry-go-round. Soheil Ayari replaced Dino Morelli at WRT but spent most of qualifying on the grass and wound up only 21st fastest.

However, the Frenchman's replacement at Coloni, ex-Astromega driver Fabrice Walfisch, ran in the top six for much of the session before slipping to a still creditable ninth.

1 Bruno Junqueira Petrobras 1m27.531s
2 Justin Wilson Nordic 1m27.904s
3 Fernando Alonso Astromega 1m28.196s
4 Nicolas Minassian Super Nova 1m28.292s
5 Ricardo Mauricio Red Bull 1m28.301s
6 Enrique Bernoldi Red Bull 1m28.382s
7 Bas Leinders KJR 1m28.408s
8 Darren Manning Arden 1m28.472s
9 Fabrice Walfisch Coloni 1m28.498s
10 Tomas Enge McLaren 1m28.567s
11 Mark Webber European 1m28.620s
12 Marc Goossens Astromega 1m28.743s
13 David Saelens Super Nova 1m28.750s
14 Sebastian Bourdais Gauloises 1m28.782s
15 Fabrizio Gollin Coloni 1m28.991s
16 Franck Montagny DAMS 1m29.009s
17 Tomas Scheckter McLaren 1m29.023s
18 Christian Albers European 1m29.023s
19 Kevin McGarrity Nordic 1m29.045s
20 Mario Haberfeld Fortec 1m29.082s
21 Soheil Ayari WRT 1m29.139s
22 Jeffrey van Hooydonk KTR 1m29.165s
23 Andrea Piccini KJR 1m29.288s
24 Andre Couto Gauloises 1m29.610s
25 Kristian Kolby DAMS 1m29.692s
26 Ananda Mikola WRT 1m29.855s


27 Yves Olivier KTR 1m30.338s
28 Viktor Maslov Arden 1m30.805s
29 Andreas Scheld Fortec 1m30.966s
30 Jamie Melo Petrobras no time

Hungary F3000: as close as you like

Previous article

Hungary F3000: as close as you like

Next article

Junqueira moves closer to title

Junqueira moves closer to title
Load comments
The Red Bull F1 junior aiming to defy geographical odds Plus

The Red Bull F1 junior aiming to defy geographical odds

It's a long way from Pukekohe New Zealand to Milton Keynes, but Red Bull's Kiwi protege Liam Lawson has defied plenty of odds to reach the rung below F1. He's endured disappointment since winning on his F2 debut in Bahrain, but is determined to turn his season around and prove himself worthy of a place in F1

Jul 27, 2021
How Red Bull's next F1 hopeful turned around his season Plus

How Red Bull's next F1 hopeful turned around his season

Having impressed in Formula 3, Juri Vips looked to be next cab off the rank in Red Bull's prestigious Junior Team before his 2020 schedule was dealt a heavy blow by the COVID-19 pandemic. After a tough start to life in Formula 2, Vips is showing signs of a recovery - could he be the first Estonian to reach Formula 1?

Jun 14, 2021
The making of an F1 hopeful re-writing the F2 record books Plus

The making of an F1 hopeful re-writing the F2 record books

He'd marked himself out as a star of the future in last year's FIA Formula 3 championship, but 17-year-old Theo Pourchaire underlined his credentials by winning his first Formula 2 race in the Monaco feature. Sauber junior status gives him a clear route to the top, but with wisdom beyond his years, he's not getting caught up in his own hype

Jun 3, 2021
The 10 greatest F2 races contested by F1 drivers Plus

The 10 greatest F2 races contested by F1 drivers

Formula 2 used to be about more than providing a stepping stone to F1. For three decades it often provided another setting for the world’s best to fight it out. Autosport picks out the very best races

May 16, 2021
The F1 hopeful living two lives to keep his dream alive Plus

The F1 hopeful living two lives to keep his dream alive

Having lost his backing from Red Bull, Richard Verschoor has had to graft to continue his ascent up the single-seater ladder. An impressive Formula 2 debut in Bahrain, despite the lateness of his deal, shows his unorthodox approach is paying dividends

Apr 22, 2021
Was Formula 2’s radical format switch a success? Plus

Was Formula 2’s radical format switch a success?

Going into the 2021 Formula 2 season the biggest talking point wasn’t about any drivers or teams, but the new race weekend format. Created partly out of financial necessity but also to spice up the action, the Bahrain opener provided a snapshot of the positives and negatives to come

Apr 4, 2021
Why 2021 is make-or-break for the driver F1 needs Plus

Why 2021 is make-or-break for the driver F1 needs

He was tipped for glory in FIA Formula 2 last year, but was hampered by reliability woes at inopportune moments. Guanyu Zhou knows he won't get too many more chances if he is to become China's first F1 driver, with fierce competition within the ranks of Alpine's junior stable

Mar 25, 2021
How Schumacher Jr earned his Haas F1 chance Plus

How Schumacher Jr earned his Haas F1 chance

Michael Schumacher may have won seven Formula 1 titles, but he didn't even compete for a crown at the second tier. Son Mick put that right in 2020, and proved to Ferrari that he was deserving of a shot at motorsport's elite category in 2021

Jan 9, 2021