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Paddock Postcard from Hungary 01 Aug 2010

Race winner Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Rapax leads at the start of the race. GP2 Series, Rd 7, Race 1, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday 31 July 2010. The race was stopped following a crash at the start of the race. GP2 Series, Rd 7, Race 1, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday 31 July 2010. Race winner Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Rapax celebrates on the podium. GP2 Series, Rd 7, Race 1, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday 31 July 2010. Nico Muller (SUI) Jenzer Motorsport. GP3 Series, Rd 6, Race 1, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday 31 July 2010. The podium (L to R): Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) ART Grand Prix, second; Nico Muller (SUI) Jenzer Motorsport, race winner; Stefano Coletti (MON) Tech 1 Racing, third. GP3 Series, Rd 6, Race 1, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday 31 July 2010.

After a race that took three attempts to start, Venezuela’s Pastor Maldonado extended his GP2 Series lead for Rapax on Saturday with a crushing fifth victory of the season. He led home Racing Engineering’s Christian Vietoris and Barwa Addax’s Sergio Perez. The first attempt to start the race was aborted when iSport’s Davide Valsecchi stalled getting off the line for the formation lap. Then Trident’s Adrian Zaugg caused another tour when he stalled, and finally ART Grand Prix polesitter Sam Bird's engine stopped ahead of the third attempt at a start.

When the lights finally went out iSport’s Oliver Turvey, the de facto poleman, bogged down, handing Maldonado an easy lead ahead of Vietoris, Perez and Barwa Addax’s Giedo van der Garde as Turvey recovered. But there was chaos behind them as Bird’s team mate and Ferrari Driver Academy member Jules Bianchi spun exiting Turn One and caught the rear of Giacomo Ricci's DPR car before being hit nose to nose by DAMS’ Ho-Pin Tung, who was then hit by Arden International’s Rodolfo Gonzalez.

The race was red flagged as the safety car was deployed and medics attended to Bianchi and Tung as they complained of leg and stomach pains respectively. Bianchi was later confirmed with a fractured vertebra that will see him out of competition for a period, while Tung was also kept in hospital overnight as a precautionary measure.

By the chequered flag Maldonado was almost six seconds ahead of Vietoris, who held an increasingly desperate Perez at bay for his best result of the season. Turvey salvaged fourth place when Van der Garde ran wide. After finishing in eighth Giacomo Ricci took pole position for Sunday morning’s sprint race, while his team mate Michael Herck was set to start alongside him.

After Herck stalled on the dummy grid, Ricci had the front row to himself and the Italian led from start to finish, despite an early challenge from d’Ambrosio, clinching his first win in the main GP2 Series. With d’Ambrosio retiring with technical issues, Vietoris took second ahead of Valesecchi in third.

Jenzer Motorsport’s Nico Muller took Saturday’s GP3 honours after an impressive lights-to-flag victory. The Swiss driver was untouchable in qualifying, too, and in the race held off ART Grand Prix’s Esteban Gutierrez to take his second win of the season. The Mexican was passed off the start line by Status GP’s Rob Wickens and Tech 1 Racing’s Stefano Coletti, and the three battled throughout before finishing in the order Gutierrez, Coletti and Wickens. Britain’s Dean Smith was fifth for Carlin Motorsport.

Josef Newgarden seemed set to start Sunday morning’s race from pole position for Carlin, until Addax’s Mirko Bortolotti slowed with fuel pressure problems in sixth place. Thus ART’s Alex Rossi started from that position with Newgarden making it an all-American front row.

Rossi’s slick start was strong enough to resist a first-corner challenge from Newgarden and he led to the finish line. Hopes for a US one-two were dashed, however, when Newgarden retired with mechanical issues two laps before the end and Wickens eventually secured second for Status, ahead of Carlin’s Smith.