Just 30 minutes from the picturesque cities of Buda-pest, the Hungaroring offers a strange mix of a fast flowing corners but with the feel of a street circuit in a tricky and enticing track layout which promotes close racing but hard overtaking opportunities.
The Hungaroring has provided some scintillating racing in previous Invictus Racing League seasons and with no reason to expect any different the feeling in the paddock was that of wary optimism.
Hungary can be highly rewarding to those who are brave but equally can punish the slightest mistakes with devastating results.
It was round three of the Invictus calendar and with two very competitive founds under the wheels of the drivers already. The expectation of another fantastic week of racing was on the mind of all involved.
The no-assist championship had started with a bang over the previous two rounds. The championship lead was poised nicely between three drivers at the top as BoyBetterKnow, Scopefielder and Humbostone all vied for top spot in the standings before we head to France for the first race at Circuite Paul Ricard.
It was a beautiful blue skied day awaiting for qualifying and with the cheers of the crowd echoing across the circuit the cars started rumbling down the pit lane and onto the track surface.
Pole was taken in superb fashion by the Force India of Nikki9095 who just pipped current joint points leader Humbostone to second with BoyBetterKnow sitting just behind them.
It was a disastrous session for xMikexSI who crashed out early before setting a time and for Speed_Queen80 who set a time outside of the 107% time of Nikki meaning the Williams driver would have to ask for permission from the circuit stewards to line up on the grid. A dry race was forecasted and it was well received by the grid as 14 cars would be heading down to turn one.
The red lights went out and the man on the charge off the line was BoyBetterKnow who seemed to have lightning reactions off the line as he breezed past Humbostone and Nikki to take the lead heading into the first corner.
Nikki followed the Sauber closely through the initial laps as the top three made a break over the rest of the field and and they pushed hard to open up a three second lead over Joel who had equally made a good start to move up into fourth.
Scott lost the lead on lap three and was struggling to get his card slowed down for corners and at the end of lap three after losing control in sector two the decision was made by the Sauber pit-wall to retire to car as it seemed a hydraulic issue would put a premature end to the championship leaders race.
He wouldn’t be the only car on track struggling for grip as cameras picked up Joel losing control of his Force India at turn five which in turn dropped him to the back of the field in what has been a torrid start to the season for him.
It turned into a nightmare afternoon for Otmar Szafnauer as Nikki9095 lost control of the sister Force India, as he headed towards the wall on the exit of turn nine he collided with the unfortunate Humbostone as the McLaren pit-wall looked on in disbelief as their driver was forced into an early stop for a wing change whilst Nikki retired from the race after stalling the car trying to recover from a second spin just two corners later.
The man on the move was Mamafisher who had made a superb first stint work to move up from 12th to second as he followed Jos_Heinssie who had been promoted to the race lead with the two circulating at a good pace on the soft tyre.
Mamafisher made his only stop on lap 17 and used a superb one lap undercut to pass Jos for the lead of the race as the two were followed by Delange93 who had made a quiet but effective move to a podium position.
The race went down to the wire and Mamafisher drove brilliantly to keep Jos behind but after a time penalty was dropped into the lap of the race leader he knew that all hard-work to maintain the lead would most likely be in vain.
The two crossed the line with Mamafisher managing to hold off the dutch driver. However, it was Jos who was promoted to the race victory after the stewards placed the time penalties upon the initial winner.
Delange93 picked up a fantastic third in the Haas whilst Speed_Queen80 came home fourth after a good display in the underpowered Williams. Humbostone fought back after his early tangle with Nikki and recovered to fifth and as the only driver of the three at the top of the standings before the race to pick up points he took a slender lead heading to France next week.
Scopefielder had a disappointing race and finished over 40 seconds down in 11th as the Toro Rosso struggled all race to find any pace in an off day for the Swede.
Humbostone leads the field in the championship by six points but with the top three finishing either out or down the order. It will certainly open up the championship to the rest of the grid.
After his victory in Bahrain, Renault driver Tejuarr was on the hunt for another positive result at the Hungaroring. The ultrasoft tyre was always going to be the dominant performer in qualifying and mj_coop was the driver who made it count when it mattered.
The Red Bull driver obliterated the rest of the field to take pole by over seven tenths ahead of LMC_Boogster in second who dragged his Sauber around superbly to get it on the front row.
The race was poised nicely as drivers such as AaronJSpence, Tony-Y and SirSpud were all starting further down the grid so would be in the mood for a charge early on.
As the race went green an immediate problem for Ferrari driver xMIKExSI saw the car spin the tyres and lose control as he found himself pointing the wrong direction ina move that baffled the pit-wall leading to speculate about a fluid leak onto the tyres on the formation lap.
Ahead, mj_coop maintained the lead into turn one and it was last weeks winner in Tejuarr who got the jump into second position past Boogster who battled throughout the lap with the Renault into the penultimate corner. It wasn’t the outcome he wanted and after colliding with the Renault he lost the rear end thus dropping him back to the back end of the field.
Jamie_6328 had made a great start moving into third, but after a spin at turn five on lap two disaster struck. The Haas speared across the circuit into the wall and as it rebounded it was collected by the unfortunate SirSpud in the Renault as both drivers ended their races earlier than planned with terminal damage.
The two also caused Tony-Y to lose control of his Sauber and collide with the wall. It called the pit-crew into action early and dropped Tony to the back of the field effectively ruling himself out of a podium position.
A lap later and a mistake from Ferrari_LCFC10 saw him lose front aero components when he ran into the back of Skyzii into turn 15 and the wing change would cause him to lose precious time in the pit-window in what was a close knit start to the race.
mj_coop controlled the first half of the race and even after making his stop onto the medium tyre he breezed past SJD easily into turn one and quickly caught the Sauber of Boogster on lap 20 of 35 as the then leaders of Mike and Boogster pitted to make their first and second stops respectively. This freed up coop to push and extend his lead at the front with only SJD keeping up with the Red Bull.
Lap 22 saw the unfortunate end for Tejuarr as last weeks victor lost control of his car in sector two, after running well in the midfield early. It wasn’t to be for the experienced driver as he cut a frustrated figure in the post race interviews.
The race distance started to count down and with six laps left it was a comfortable lead for coop as SJD tried to keep him honest in second, Fascone who had found himself in third after a first lap pit-stop meant he was on almost 30 lap old tyres by the end as he saw the gap between himself and Boogster disappearing lap upon lap.
There was still time for controversy as another collision between Skyzii and FerrariLFC saw the two spin at turn two and ultimately fall back behind the recovering Tony. The two were immediately called to the stewards after the race to explain their sides of the story in what looks like a testy rivalry building between the two.
The chequered flag saw a perfect race finished off by mj_coop who took home the pole, victory and fastest lap as he gave us a dominant display in front of the passionate fans.
SJD came in second after starting seventh in a drive that saw plaudits from the paddock after the race. Fascone took provisional third ahead of Boogster who took a three second penalty for an earlier infraction demoted him back behind the Irishman who finished the race on 34 lap old medium tyres.
A post race dispute was raised by the Sauber team and after speaking with the stewards it was agreed to rescind the penalty and therefore promoted Boogster back into third.
mj_coop leads the championship heading to the Paul Ricard circuit next week with 15 points, but with a field who will all be eyeing up the title there is certainly no reason not to expect the lead to change come France.
Sambamkid had started off this season in his usual style as he took race victory in the first two races and as the grid all made their way to the circuit the talk was all about how to stop his dominance.
Sam lead the way by 6 points to Jos_Heinssie and looked in fine form to continue his winning ways as qualifying began. However, an issue with the Mercedes in the garage confined him to start from the back of the grid and not set a time meaning a trip to the stewards to cover the 107% ruling would be undertaken.
In his absence it was mdoran09 who took pole position by the slightest of margins. The Toro Rosso set a time fractionally under seven hundredths of a second faster than Tamworthfox in second whilst Sam would have to pass the McLaren of Speed_Queen80 if he hoped to get himself back up the field.
The drivers woke up the next morning to a cold and wet track as they prepared for a much slipperier surface than qualifying and had to reassess their breaking points.
Mdoran lead the grid away from the line and kept his lead into turn one as the field tentatively made their way around the first lap.
Sambam moved past SpeedQueen but a brave move from the Mclaren saw her retake the position from Sam as they engaged in a fun battle of the next few laps.
The leader started lap four and with a lead of around a second it was looking like a close race was in store but the Toro Rosso pit-wall had their heads in their hands minutes later as their driver lost power and eventually drive as he rounded the final corners they made the decision to retire the car in a bitter blow to mdoran.
The rain had stopped and a drying line had quickly appeared on the track surface, this caused a rush of cars to flood into the pit-lane and with a mix of strategy through the field it eventually presented Foxyred2000 with the lead of the race ahead of Tamworth.
Speed_Queen80 and Sambam were still continuing their fight and finally on lap 8 Sam made the move on SQ and pulled away quickly and breezed past Jos on lap 10 as the Mercedes driver had already fought his way to third from last on the grid.
After pitting to remove the intermediate tyres the top two of Foxy and Tamworth had both put on a set of soft compound tyres which meant they would have to stop again, whilst Sam had used the medium tyre giving himself a chance at running them to the end. That was the case by lap 21 as both Foxyred and Tamworth were forced to stop and relinquish the lead to Sam.
As the race came to its crescendo Sambam was still leading but finding his lead being slowly etched away by Foxxyred and Tamworth who had both dispatched Speed_Queen for a place on the podium as they used the faster compound to move back through the field.
The laps ran out for Foxyred and the McLaren failed to catch Sambam who had driven a masterful race in changeable conditions to take the victory and a third win in a row from ninth and last on the grid.
Foxred2000 picked up a well deserved second whilst penalities demoted TamworthFox back behind Speed_Queen80 who picked up her second consecutive third place as she looks to get her season going and push towards a championship challenge.
Sambamkid maintains his lead at the top on 36 points with a perfect record so far. It is now up to the rest of the grid to play catch up but with drivers like Gamer_Da_Best262 waiting to return. Sam may not have it all his own way this season.
Betrayer46 and WaveIntel were already reigniting their rivalry but this season in F2 as the two led the field after the first two races.
They wouldn’t have it easy though and with a returning Humbostone along with mj_coop and Benjym214 there were a plethora of drivers willing to push them off the perch at the top of the championship table.
Qualifying saw an almost even split as six drivers chose to start to the ultrasoft tyres whilst five decided for the soft tyre. It was only Kieran who decided against a time for the session and sat on row six at the back of the grid.
It was business as usual for the Red Bull team as Betrayer put his car on pole by two tenths to Humbostone in the Mercedes. Whilst out of the harder compound runners RickWR88 dropped ahead of mj_coop as the two started seventh and eighth.
WaveIntel could only make it into tenth and would find a very busy track ahead on the run down to turn one in a disappointing session for the Scottish driver.
Come race time it was a nightmare start for Betrayer, the championship leader didn’t get the best launch off the line and found himself swamped by the field as almost four cars battled for the lead into turn one.
After brief contact with Humbostone pushed both cars out wide both the Mercedes driver and Betrayer found themselves losing positions with Betrayer in sixth.
Fulchaa was the initial beneficiary of the start as he moved up from fourth on the grid to the race lead but with on the second lap the McLaren driver was already complaining of overheating tyres. This was evident as he was caught and overhauled easily by Humbostone and with the ultra soft tyres already struggling on Fulchaas car it from bad to worse.
He lost several positions to NeverMiss and Jamie but as he rounded the final corner he lost all grip and spun directly into the path of the recovering Betrayer. The two collided and although the the contact was minor it seemed Fulchaa would be forced to retire with an unknown issue.
Lap four saw the retirement of FerrariLFC10 who after picking up wing damage in a collision with Kieran found himself struggling for grip on the notoriously aero critical circuit and at turn five after running wide he was caught from behind by RickWr88 and Ferrari was put into the wall and therefore ended the race early for the Haas driver.
Mj_coop was the driver on the move early in the race and utilising the soft compound tyre to move up as the ultra soft runners began to stop on lap four. He was kept company by Kieran as the two tried to stretch a gap over the rest of the field.
As the race reached its half way point mj_coop was still in the lead on the soft tyres whilst Humbostone and Jamie had both move past NickLJ into podium positions. The drivers were made aware by the team weather reports that a prolonged rain cloud had moved into course with the circuit and on lap 17 the first drops of rain started falling.
This greatly impacted both Rick and Kieran who both pitted a few laps previously and would need to factor in another stop for the inevitable intermediate tyre.
Lap 18 saw chaos break out for the Ferrari team mates as NickLJThomson lost the rear end of the car at turn one and found himself facing in the wrong direction as he dropped out of a strong fourth back towards the end of the grid.
It would be a hard recovery for Nick as he struggled to get any temperature back into his old soft compound tyres on the slightly damp track surface.
The Maranello teams woes were then immediately compounded as their young driver promoted from F3 last season and championship challenger WaveIntel hit the wall at speed at turn four and ended his race much earlier than planned.
This was the time for the pit stops to happen and every driver came in on lap 19. The new tyres didn’t suit everyone however, NeverMiss00 who was looking at attacking Betrayer for fifth lost the rear end of his McLaren at the exit of turn three and added his name to the growing list on non finishers.
With ten laps to run the battle for the lead was between mj_coop, Humbostone and Jamie_6328 as the three all circulated within 1.5 seconds of each other. Coop started to look like he was in control of the race but on lap 28 the Red Bull driver made the slightest of mistakes which in the wet would always be punished as the leader dropped from first to third in one corner.
That promoted Humbostone into the lead and the Mercedes driver would now have the Renault of Jamie his main challenger for the race victory.
Lap 29 saw another retirement on circuit as Rick ended his race early in what was becoming a very difficult track surface and with five laps remaining there would only be seven runners left.
Jamie saw his opportunity on lap 32 as Humbostone make a mistake at turn five and he needed no invitation to send it up the inside for the race lead and he would go on to lead the final laps of the race.
Jamie crossed the line and took the provisional victory but a stewards penalty devastated the Renault driver as he dropped back to second behind Humbostone who would claim his first victory of the season. Mj_coop drew a frustrated air about him in the post race media discussions as penalties dropped him behind his team mate Betrayer who took an unlikely podium after a disappointing race.
Betrayer maintains the lead of the title and with WaveIntel non scoring it was a great result for the veteran English driver but with Humbostone, Jamie and Coop looking strong. This is not going to be a straight forward battle for anyone to claim the F2 championship.
It was all change in F3 this week as Gazzaman96 and Paulo both saw themselves promoted to F2 whilst JamieMet92 joined the F3 league. The promotion effectively promoted BrenOns to championship leader and with a gaggle of cars behind all vying for points such as Fascone, Tejuarr and CaptainStiff it proved once again just how competitive F3 is.
Blue skies greeted the drivers in Hungary and with a dry race in store it would all be about who could connect up the perfect lap during qualifying.
As with most leagues it was a split grid of strategy calls as the drivers mixed between the soft compound and ultra soft and it was Fascone who set a blistering 1.16.9 on the ultrashort tyres who dominated qualifying to take pole position ahead of team mate xMIKExSI as the Toro Rosso drivers locked out the front row for the second time this season.
Osteven pipped SirSpud and CaptainStiff to third as the Mercedes of Spud was sat in between the two Renault drivers with F1Richard in fifth.
BrenOns had a poor session and after losing the rear end of his Sauber on the main straight with three minutes to go he had no time to recover and set another lap meaning it would be a charge from the back if he was planning on continuing his strong performances so far.
Fascone got a rocket of a start off the line and maintained his lead heading to turn one as Mike and osteven swapped positions for second and third. The Renault driver looked to be struggling early on the ultra soft tyres and by the mid point of the second lap had already haemorrhaged a three and a half second lead to Fascone.
Mike made a bold move back on Steven at turn 11 as the Toro Rosso moved back to a one-two position as the Renault started to lose a lot of time and after being passed by Spud down the main straight allowed his team-mate CaptainStiff past as the two split strategy.
The fighting in the midfield was intense and whilst F1Richard and JamieMet fought over fifth and sixth the battle behind was raging between the two Ferrari team mates in Craig8728 and Tejuarr. The two vastly experienced drivers were playing the team game and Tej made life easy for Craig as the two swapped places on lap four.
They immediately went on the offensive against F1Richard who had fallen back from his fight with Jamie and after a mistake from Richard saw his McLaren clip the wall at turn four he came back into the path of Craig who did masterfully well not to cause an accident which could have easily caught out four drivers.
However a mature drive from Craig saw him wait and move past Richard into turn 12 whilst his team mate Tej made a daring lunge into turn 13 as Richard started feeling the effect of a lack of aero as he started struggling to get the McLaren around the lap.
NotoriousLIP has had a disappointing start to the season in the Mercedes and that continued today as he retired early of after hitting the wall after turn three. The Irishman was tipped to do well this season but will hope the luck returns as we head to France before he starts to get left behind in the title fight.
Fascone and Mike had made their stops early to come off the used ultra soft as the two had started to come under threat from Spud and Stiff behind. The new race leaders then found themselves with free track ahead and Spud stretched his lead over Stiff who started to struggle on the tyres as JamieMet started to reel in the Renault.
Jamie made the move on Stiff into turn one on lap eleven as the two fought over second. The quiet mover on the circuit however was BrenOns, he had started on the medium tyre and by lap 11 moved past Tejuarr into fifth as the current championship leader was starting to impose himself on the top five.
The race began plateau as it entered its mid point and with short battles taking over during the pit window it allowed Fascone to continue stretching his lead over SirSpud at the top of the field after Spud made his stop. The top five of Fascone, Spud, Jamie, Stiff and BrenOns had broken away from the rest of the field and it was championship leader BrenOns who had utilised a strong first stint on the mediums to move past Stiff on lap 28 as they two swapped fourth and fifth position.
The race came to its conclusion on lap 35 as Fascone came across the line to take a dominant victory having displayed a commanding lead throughout the entire race. He was followed by Spud who after two non finishes was delighted to be back on the podium as he looks to kick start his season.
JamieMet took a debut podium as the Red Bull came home in third ahead of BrenOns and Captain_Stiff as the two maintained more solid points scoring early in the season.
The Ferrari team-mates of Craig and Tejuarr had a race to forget as both tried the two stop but to no avail and with a spin from Tej early on into his second stint he would only recover to tenth place after a last lap over-take on the Renault of osteven who was frustrated after not transferring his qualifying pace over to race pace.
Bren_Ons maintains the lead in the championship but with Fascone now looking ominous behind after two strong races in Australia and Hungary he certainly will throw his hat in the ring for a battle for the title.
Behind it’s all to play for as Captain-Stiff, Tejuarr, Craig8728 are all looking up at the top two with the intent of putting themselves into title contention.
Once again it was another superb round of action in the Invictus Racing League. We depart Hungary and head to the Circuit Paul Ricard next week as we make our Invictus debut in France for the first time. The circuit will be a new challenge to all and with run off areas galore. It will be a fast paced and frenetic race packed with action from flag to flag.
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