Jean-Eric Vergne dominated the Formula Renault 3.5 race at the Hungaroring to claim his second victory of the season after his Spa triumph.
Rain prior to the start contributed to some unexpected action before the race got under way. Both fifth starter, and new Hispania Formula 1 signing, Daniel Ricciardo (ISR) and Mofaz Racing's Jake Rosenzweig crashed on slick tires on the way to the grid.
Front row starter Daniil Move (P1 Motorsport) then got the jump on polesitter Vergne into Turn 1. But Move would run marginally wide on the exit of the corner, allowing the Carlin racer to retake the position. Thereafter, Vergne led every lap and would stretch out a 17-second margin of victory.
"It had rained a lot about an hour before the race, and Turns 1, 2 and 3 were really slippery," said Vergne. "They're where you want to be fighting at the start. Daniil made a better start than me, but he braked a just a little bit late and as there was only one dry line on the exit of the corner, I took it. After that I took the first few laps cautiously, found out where the grip was, and then started to push."
An eventful race took place in the Frenchman's wake. Alexander Rossi, with whom Vergne suffered a collision with at the most recent meeting at the Nurburgring, emerged to finish in second place ahead of debut Formula Renault 3.5 podium finisher Sergio Canamasas (BVM Target).
"I finished in the pit wall with [Rossi] in Germany and now we are both on the podium together!" Vergne joked.
Gravity-Charouz man Brendon Hartley held a distant third spot behind Move on the opening lap, with Rossi pressuring the Kiwi in fourth. Hartley would soon up the tempo and close in on Move.
The battle for fifth between Move's P1 Motorsport teammate Adam Carroll and Canamasas was also closely contested. Canamasas had been demoted from a front row starting position after receiving a four-place grid penalty for an incident at the Nurburgring.
Although consistently within half a second of Move, Hartley was just a little too far back to make an overtaking attempt stick. On lap 16, Hartley jinked to the inside of Move at Turn 1, locked up slightly, and brushed the Russian's right rear tire with his front wing endplate.
Move sustained a puncture in the incident, while Hartley's front left section of wing disintegrated five laps later. Rossi swiftly captured second, while Hartley came under pressure from Canamasas. The dice ended when Hartley was slapped with a 10s penalty, dropping from third on the road to an eventual eighth, while Canamasas was afforded the luxury of backing off.
After Move's misery, Carroll salvaged fourth place for P1 Motorsport. Championship leader Robert Wickens (Carlin) had some heated battles as he fought his way up the order from 11th on the grid to fifth.
In a maneuver reminiscent of Michael Schumacher's controversial move on Rubens Barrichello at last year's Hungarian Grand Prix, Wickens was squeezed against the pit wall by Jan Charouz (Gravity-Charouz) in an early battle for eighth and was later involved in a fraught tussle with Kevin Korjus (Tech 1 Racing). Charouz received a warning flag for his incident with Wickens, but later retired in an accident with Albert Costa at Turn 9.
Wickens remains in the lead of the championship on 147 points, with second placed Vergne closing in on 127. Sixth finisher Korjus holds third on 110, while Rossi moves up two places to fourth on 91.
Results - 29 laps:
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
1. Jean-Eric Vergne Carlin 47m07.493s
2. Alexander Rossi Fortec + 17.437s
3. Sergio Canamasas BVM Target + 27.035s
4. Adam Carroll P1 + 28.537s
5. Robert Wickens Carlin + 30.455s
6. Kevin Korjus Tech 1 + 33.648s
7. Nelson Panciatici KMP + 34.339s
8. Brendon Hartley Gravity-Charouz + 35.393s
9. Nathanael Berthon ISR + 46.776s
10. Cesar Ramos Fortec + 48.724s
11. Mikhail Aleshin KMP + 49.299s
12. Daniel Zampieri BVM Target + 59.331s
13. Fairuz Fauzy Mofaz + 1m02.923s
14. Sten Pentus Epic + 1m03.457s
15. Stephane Richelmi Draco + 1m04.001s
16. Daniel de Jong Comtec + 1m04.527s
17. Oliver Webb Pons + 1m05.106s
18. Daniel McKenzie Comtec + 1m05.379s
19. Arthur Pic Tech 1 + 1m07.747s
20. Andre Negrao Draco + 1m14.046s
Marcos Martinez Pons 19 laps
Daniil Move P1 17 laps
Albert Costa Epic 12 laps
Jan Charouz Gravity-Charouz 11 laps
Jake Rosenzweig Mofaz 7 laps
Daniel Ricciardo ISR 0 laps