Berthon dominates en route to maiden win
28 July 2013 – It was all smiles on the Hungarian GP2 Sprint Race podium as Nathanaël Berthon produced a dominant display to take his maiden victory in the feeder series. Arden’s Mitch Evans also claimed his best-ever result in second place, with Fabio Leimer completing the podium.
With the race a rather steady affair in comparison to yesterday’s frantic action, pole-sitter Berthon made a good start off the line, and already had a comfortable lead as the field approached Turn 1. Marcus Ericsson rocketed up from seventh to slot into fourth, while Briton James Calado also enjoyed a smooth getaway.
Towards the back, there was an incident involving the cars of Sergio Canamasas, Adrian Quaife-Hobbs and Daniël de Jong, which led to the Safety Car being deployed. On the exit of the first corner, Canamasas clipped De Jong’s rear, causing the Dutchman to spin across the track, leaving Quaife-Hobbs with nowhere to go but into a disappointing retirement on his first weekend with Hilmer Motorsport.
As the race resumed, Felipe Nasr was the only front runner to take the initiative, moving past Rapax driver Simon Trummer into Turn 1 for fifth. Stéphane Richelmi tried to follow the Brazilian through, but was forced onto the inside grass.
The middle stages saw Berthon extend his lead to around three seconds from Evans, while championship leader Stefano Coletti entered the pits with a damaged front wing following contact. Dropping to the back, the Monegasque driver was from there on helpless to avoid further erosion to his points lead, eventually finishing in 20th.
With ten laps remaining, the drivers were inundated with messages from the pit-wall asking them to nurture their tyres in the extreme heat. Berthon’s gap to Evans was up to 4.1 seconds by this point, with Leimer much further behind the leading pair. Under encouragement from his engineer, Evans started to haul the Frenchman back into sight, but abandoned his charge with two laps to go in favour of bringing his tyres to the finish. With a clear run, Berthon breezed to a lights-to-flag victory.
Ericsson capped an impressive weekend to claim fourth for DAMS, with Nasr keeping up his points-scoring run in fifth. Calado’s good start secured him sixth place, while Trummer and Sam Bird rounded out the points positions. Jolyon Palmer struggled to 12th on the Soft tyre, sacrificing his Sprint Race chances to ensure victory on Saturday.
The GP2 field will be back in action at Spa-Francorchamps from August 23-25