GP2 – HUNGARY
A podium finish for Esteban Gutierrez in Sunday’s sprint race, thanks to an aggressive drive from the back, gave the Lotus-ART team a result they could be very proud of.
In the feature race team-mates Jules Bianchi and Gutierrez lined up sixth and ninth respectively. The Frenchman lost a couple of places at the start while Gutierrez retired four laps later with an engine problem. Bianchi recovered to collect points and a front-row start for Race 2 with seventh place.
In the sprint race, Bianchi had a good fight with championship leader Romain Grosjean in the early laps as they battled for fourth place, but then was spun by Guido van der Garde and was forced to recover from the back. Meanwhile Gutierrez, who started all the way down in 24th, was picking his competitors off one-by-one and rising through the field with tremendous determination. It culminated, on the final lap and at the final corner, with the Mexican making a move on Grosjean for second, and making it stick. Bianchi, also on the final lap, made up a position to take sixth.
“It was quite a challenge from the beginning,” commented Esteban, “because we decided to start on slick tyres, and it was still quite wet and very dangerous. We didn’t know what to do on the grid, but it was my call. We were at the back anyway, and we needed to gamble. At the start we were slow, I was fighting the car a lot. But as the track dried I started to push. I never knew what position I was in until the final few laps, when I was racing with Grosjean. It was a clean, fair fight and an honour to race him because he is leading the championship.”
“It was a little bit difficult to begin with but we had a fantastic race today, said Lotus-ART team principal Frederic Vasseur. “Esteban started from the last row following an engine problem yesterday. It was a fantastic achievement to finish P2, and to take Grosjean at the last corner. Jules did a fantastic job too, after being pushed off the track by Van der Garde. He spun, lost 30 seconds, and came back to score points. This was a great result for the team, and now we look forward to a nice vacation.”
GP3 – HUNGARY
Lotus-ART were thrilled to take a pole position, a win and two podiums at the Hungaroring, with Valtteri Bottas scoring his second victory in consecutive weekends.
For Race 1, Bottas and team-mate James Calado locked out the front row. Bottas led all the way from pole position to the flag while Calado was hit by Mitch Evans at Turn 2 on lap 1 and dropped to the back of the pack.
In the sprint race, the reserve grid saw Bottas start eighth while Calado was all the way back in 25th. But the Englishman drove a blinder in the wet conditions, as he had on recovery mode in Germany a week ago, to scythe through the field and hunt down the leaders. After lap 1 he was 11th. He had made up a simply epic 14 places. By lap 10 he was sixth, just behind Bottas. The pair continued to make headway together, finishing the race with Bottas second and Calado a miraculous third.
“Nearly a perfect weekend, with a win, a second place and a point for pole,” confirmed Valtteri. “Our speed in qualifying was really good, as was the race pace in the dry. We knew that we were competitive in the wet, but we have made a step forward in dry conditions. We can be really happy, and I hope we keep at this level for the remaining two races.”
“In a weekend you can score a maximum of 20 points and Valtteri took home 17, so not bad at all,” reflected Lotus-ART team principal Frederic Vasseur. “Also, James did a tremendous job today. He was unlucky yesterday, getting taken out by evans, so to drive from the back to P3 was very important for the team. We can expect a good final result in the championship, and our goal is to finish first and second.”
The No.70 Lotus Evora GTS of the mini-Mansells, Leo and Greg, and team-mates Edoardo Piscopo and Gianni Giudici, led the GT4 class by a massive 12 laps but, with eight hours to go, the engine called it quits and lunched itself.
Nevertheless, Group Lotus’ Director of Motorsport Claudio Berro was upbeat: “We’ve enjoyed some fine driving and great results this weekend from Lotus-ART in GP2 and GP3, and well done to everybody involved. A pat on the back too to Lotus’ Spa-Francorchamps crew and the drivers for proving how quick the Evora is, dominating the GT4 class. It’s a shame the engine blew, but the performance was something we can all be immensely proud of.”