The Hungaroring in Budapest, Hungary hosted Races 9-10 of the 2018 GP3 Series. This would be the last round before the annual ‘summer break’ and the end of the first half of the 2018 season.
After a difficult opening practice session, which saw Julien Falchero hampered by technical issues and only managed nine laps – the Arden trio of Gabriel Aubry, Joey Mawson and Falchero headed into Qualifying on Saturday. Mawson was the lead Arden driver, setting the 9th fastest time of the session to give him a good shot at points and ‘reverse grid pole’ in the opening race of the weekend. With the entire field being covered by just over a second, it was incredibly tight down the grid – with Aubry setting the 16th fastest time and Falchero setting the 18th fastest time in the session.
Race one saw Mawson make a great start to move himself into 7th position in the opening stages, hassling for the top 6 whilst managing his tyres in the process around the drying circuit. Aubry and Falchero made up ground in the early stages as well, gaining a pair of positions each as the race began to heat up. Mawson was all over the back of ART Grand Prix’s Jake Hughes, who was being incredibly robust in his defence, acting as a ‘cork in the bottle’ for Mawson and baulking his progress. Mawson went for a bold move around the outside into Turn 1 on Lap 13, where he was hit by Hughes mid corner – breaking his front wing and forcing Mawson out of the race with suspension damage.
Aubry made the most of the hot conditions and tyre management, to avoid the chaos around him and move stealthily up the field. The French driver pulled off some clever overtakes to move himself into 10th position at the chequered flag, sealing a championship point in the process for him and the team. Falchero managed to come home in 15th position, making up three positions from where he started from.
Race two took place in similar warm conditions, albeit now fully dry on Sunday morning. The Arden trio got away cleanly, however a messy first lap with multiple drivers running wide and small contact baulked Aubry’s progress, dropping him down from his 10th place grid slot. Falchero managed to hold position despite the dramas around him, with Mawson coming through the field from the back following his opening race retirement.
Mawson’s luck continued to erode him, as he was forced to pit early on in the race due to damage – dropping him a lap behind the leaders and out of contention for points. Despite the setback, the Aussie was able to set the fastest lap of the race – acting as a sign for what might have been for him this weekend.
The race was more tyre management sensitive than the first race, with temperature in the air and on track continuing to increase as the race went on. In difficult conditions, Aubry and Falchero managed their tyres to the end of the race, finishing in 13th and 15th position respectively, despite catching the pack in front during the closing stages of the race.
The GP3 Series will next head to the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium on the 24-26 August, following a 4-week ‘summer break’ for the championship – where the second half of the season will begin.