Nikita Mazepin produced a dominant display in the GP3 Series Race 1 at Budapest, Hungary to capture his second victory of the season. The ART Grand Prix driver took the lead at the start of the race and surged across the line to win with 10.6s advantage over second-placed Leonardo Pulcini, while polesitter Anthoine Hubert finished third after losing ground at the start of the race with a slow getaway.
Despite earlier rain, the circuit had dried sufficiently for a start on slick tires. Immediately, as the lights went out, Mazepin got away expertly from second on the grid to pass a slow-starting Hubert, emerging from the first corner with the lead as Pulcini followed him past his ART teammate. By the end of the first lap, the Russian had already underlined his credentials by opening the lead to Pulcini by over a second, continuing to opening the gap over the Campos Racing driver by small fractions as he sought to manage the race from the very beginning.
Behind them, Callum Ilott dropped ART teammate Jake Hughes at the start of the race, leaving the latter to fall into the clutches of David Beckmann and Joey Mawson, who both had enough pace in the opening stages to put Hughes under serious pressure. Eventually, Beckmann began to force Hughes into a series of mistakes, but a lock-up for the British driver was unable to yield a passing opportunity for Trident’s new recruit.
Mazepin, meanwhile, continued to ease the gap over Pulcini open further, exerting his control over the race to which the Italian seemingly had no answer. The battle down the field began to reach a flashpoint, as Hughes led a train of cars — down to last position — all within a second of each other. The Brit finally found himself behind Beckmann at the opening of lap eight, as the German stuffed his car down the inside of turn 1 before carting off into the distance — leaving Hughes in the clutches of Mawson and Ryan Tveter.
At the midpoint of the race, it seemed as though Pulcini had begun to make inroads into Mazepin’s lead, bringing it below the two-second margin to put the Russian under pressure. Responding, Mazepin kept the lead to Pulcini as stagnant as possible, matching his times as he looked to make his soft-compound Pirellis last around the demanding Hungaroring.
Beckmann continued his charge up the field and passed Ilott at the beginning of lap 14, before Hughes’ defensive efforts were ended after a collision with Mawson — as the Australian looked to pass, the two came together on the run to turn 2, leaving the Arden driver stranded with damage at the side of the road. This prompted a flurry of action among the bunched-up cars, as Kari and Piquet touched — providing the Finn with a race-ending puncture as the Brazilian grappled with a broken front wing.
While all behind him was chaos, Mazepin proved relentless, and began to put the race out of Pulcini’s reach in the final five laps — flexing his muscles to build a significant buffer at the front. Hubert, enjoying a lonely race in third place, then came under pressure from a rapidly-approaching Beckmann, who looked to mark his first race for Trident with a podium. Getting within a second of the Frenchman, Hubert was able to find sufficient pace to cover off Beckmann’s advances in the final laps.
Finding a clear advantage over Pulcini, Mazepin crossed the line for his final lap with an 8.3s lead over his rival, opening it out by a further two seconds on the last tour of the Hungaroring to clinch a dominant victory. Pulcini claimed his third podium of the season with second, while Hubert extended his championship lead over Ilott to 17 points with third. Beckmann had to settle for fourth, his best GP3 result, while Tveter beat Ilott to fifth place. Juan Manuel Correa spent the race battling with Dorian Boccolacci, and edged the French driver in the battle for seventh as Diego Menchaca finished ninth. Gabriel Aubry claimed tenth for his first GP3 point after passing Tatiana Calderon on the final lap.