|Following a post-qualifying penalty to the RUSSIAN TIME driver Bird, Fabio Leimer was promoted to second spot on the grid for today’s 37 lap Feature Race. The Hungarian weather continued to be hot with an air temperature of 34° and a track temperature of 46°. The first start was aborted due to stalled cars resulting in the race being shortened by one lap as an extra formation was taken.
Fabio made a clean getaway to hold onto second place behind a fast starting Nasr and he finished the opening lap 2.6 seconds behind the Carlin car and 0.8 seconds ahead of Palmer. Over the next eight laps the gap to Nasr remained steady and the Racing Engineering car was now being chased by Ericsson. Both Fabio and Nasr made their mandatory pitstops on lap 9 and a very quick tyre change from the Spanish team allowed the young Swiss to exit the pits right on the gearbox of the Brazilian driver.
Fabio resumed the track less than a second behind Nasr, both men losing a place to Ericsson who had pitted two laps earlier and was on hot tyres and the three men were now battling for 7th place which, as the cars ahead had yet to stop, was effectively a fight for the lead. As the cars neared the halfway point on lap 17 Palmer, who had been leading, made a late pitstop resuming the track in second place demoting Nasr and Fabio to 3rd and 4th.
On lap 18 Fabio was 0.7 seconds behind Nasr and looking for a place to pass but he had to make sure he did not make a mistake as Richelmi was just one second behind the Racing Engineering car. Fabio continued to pressure Nasr and with the gap from Ericsson to Fabio just over two seconds the fight for the race win was on. With eight laps remaining Fabio had pulled away a little from Richelmi and he was holding the gap to Nasr to less than one second and both men were closing fast on Ericsson.
With four laps remaining the difference between Ericsson and Fabio in 2nd and 4th respectively was 1.7 seconds with Richelmi closing in on the battling trio. Fabio was now struggling on worn tyres and he was now concentrating on keeping his 4th place which he was able to do as he crossed the finishing line 0.3 seconds ahead of the DAMS car.
Julián gained a place before the start as De Jong had to pit on the aborted start and he held 18th position at the start but on the opening lap the front wing on his car was damaged and the Racing Engineering car had to pit at the end of lap 1 for a new nose. Resuming right at the back of the field and still having to make his mandatory pitstop the race was effectively over for Julián. Although he was able to move up to 15th at the finish it was a very disappointing race for the young Colombian.
Fabio will start tomorrow’s Sprint Race from 5th on the grid and with an excellent chance of finishing on the podium. For Julián it will be a case of trying to make up as many places as possible and try and get into the points, a hard task on a circuit where overtaking is very difficult.
Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering: “A slight disappointment in the overall result today as we didn't finish on the podium with Fabio and Julian didn't finish where we expected him to either. But it's not a bad result considering the championship standings. Fabio was able to score points and is back in third, while drivers like Palmer, bet everything on one card by using both their sets of prime tyres in the feature race. Unfortunately, Julian broke his front wing on the opening lap and this was his race’s deciding moment. He had to immediately pit for a new front wing. From there on he showed a very impressive pace on both tyre compounds and one can only imagine what would have happened without the damage to his car so early in the race. The race was difficult on tyres and we have to work hard to prepare for tomorrow's race, which promises to be at least as challenging as today's.”
Fabio Leimer: “The start wasn't perfect today, but reasonably good given the fact that I had to start on the dirty side of the track, which meant I had less traction. I actually thought it would be good enough for P1, when I saw that Dillmann was slow next to me, but Nasr was very fast and took the lead. During the following laps I was behind Nasr, even though I think I was faster than him at this stage of the race. We came into the pits on the same lap and we had a really good pit stop. I was very close to passing him in the pits, but when we rejoined, it was actually Ericsson passing us. I was hoping that towards the end of the race they would start to struggle with the tyres ahead of me, but this was not really the case. It was a pretty tough race today and towards the end I had to defend my position from Richelmi. It was enough for P4, so I would say it wasn't a great race, but I am satisfied. I could close the gap to the drivers ahead of me in the championship, only Nasr scored more. I think it's good like this for us as we will have a good set of tyres for tomorrow's race. There are obviously drivers, who do not fight for the championship title, who go for a Saturday win by putting prime-prime, but in our case it is important we score on Saturday as well as Sunday as the goal is the championship title.”
Julián Leal: “The start was OK, but it became difficult when Coletti went off in turn 11. When he rejoined the track, he created some mess as others tried to avoid contact with him. This is where my front wing was damaged and I had to come to the pitlane for an unplanned pit stop. This meant that I lost a lot of time and I came back at the end of the field, shortly after I had my mandatory tyre change. The car was quite balanced, so I was able to push and had a good race pace. In the end I finished in P15, but I think without the incident on the opening lap much more would have been possible today.”
Race 2: Sun 28 Jul 2013, 10:35 (GMT+2)