Chilton claims maiden GP2 victory in Hungary
28 July 2012 – Max Chilton has won his first GP2 race at the Hungaroring on Saturday afternoon. The Feature Race, staged after Formula 1 qualifying, involved the Surrey-born driver seeing off a stiff challenge from Italian Davide Valsecchi.
Chilton, who had done half of the job by claiming pole position on the tight and twisty circuit, kept the lead off the line as Valsecchi took chase instantly. Behind, championship leader Luiz Razia went wheel-to-wheel with Jolyon Palmer, passing the Englishman and then following Valsecchi who is his closest challenger for the title. In fact, Razia was fortunate to escape a touch with Esteban Gutiérrez at Turn 1.
Pit-stops would be crucial this afternoon, with several drivers at the front reacting to each other within two laps at the mid-way point of the race. As the shuffle unfolded, it was Sauber F1 reserve Gutiérrez who stole the lead as late stoppers Chilton and Valsecchi latched onto the back of the pack, forcing for a way past on their fresher tyres.
Having fought back through the slower cars, an immense duel materialised between Chilton and Valsecchi, with the latter piling immense pressure and looking to make up as many championship points as possible. The battle allowed Razia to close in, meaning Valsecchi soon started to look in his mirrors as well as ahead.
The leaders crossed the line just six tenths of a second apart to the delight of the Carlin pit crew, with Razia limiting the damage by finishing just one spot behind Valsecchi.
Further back, Josef Kral was running seventh but ran into mechanical troubles. Nathanaël Berthon then took the place and reigning British F3 Champion Felipe Nasr was favourite to seal the reverse grid pole for Sunday’s Sprint Race, only to crash at Turn 1. The honour then went to Switzerland’s Fabio Leimer, who was duly overtaken by Gutiérrez.
Razia’s title advantage over Valsecchi is now just five points.
The Sprint Race takes place at 10:35am on Sunday (BST +1)