Sergey Sirotkin: Hungary win proves we can get it done

Motorsport.com columnist Sergey Sirotkin reflects on a GP2 Hungaroring weekend that gave him a long-awaited first win with ART Grand Prix.

Sergey Sirotkin: Hungary win proves we can get it done
Sergey Sirotkin, ART Grand Prix
Sergey Sirotkin, ART Grand Prix
Sergey Sirotkin, ART Grand Prix
Sergey Sirotkin, ART Grand Prix
Sergey Sirotkin, ART Grand Prix
Sergey Sirotkin, ART Grand Prix
Sergey Sirotkin, ART Grand Prix
Sergey Sirotkin, ART Grand Prix
Pierre Gasly, PREMA Racing; Sergey Sirotkin, ART Grand Prix and Antonio Giovinazzi, PREMA Racing
Podium: Winner Pierre Gasly, PREMA, Racing; second place Antonio Giovinazzi, PREMA Racing; third place Sergey Sirotkin, ART Grand Prix
Sergey Sirotkin, ART Grand Prix
Podium: Race winner Sergey Sirotkin (RUS, ART Grand Prix; second place , ART Grand Prix), Jordan King, Racing Engineering; third place Norman Nato, Racing Engineering
Sergey Sirotkin, ART Grand Prix
Sergey Sirotkin, ART Grand Prix
Sergey Sirotkin, ART Grand Prix
Sergey Sirotkin, ART Grand Prix

Dear Motorsport.com readers,

Finally, our efforts with ART Grand Prix have been duly rewarded at the Hungaroring, as we scored strong points and picked up our first race win of the year. Yes, we couldn't really fight for pole, and, yes, there was a problem with the start in the Saturday race – but we recovered and ran extremely well in race trim.

It was a good weekend. Our car was one of the fastest out there, if not the fastest, from the very beginning.

But in qualifying, unfortunately, we couldn't contest pole position. We got on the front row, but we just didn't have the speed to challenge Gasly and Prema.

His half-second advantage was perplexing. If it was half a tenth, there's ways to approach that, you can find that time somewhere on track. But half a second – even more than that, almost six tenths – is unreal. And it wasn't one lap for him, he went much quicker on several attempts.

Getting back on the podium

As it so often has been this year, the start was problematic in the Saturday race – more on that later.

Anyway, I was fifth or sixth out of Turn 1, passed my teammate round the outside of Turn 2, then followed Nato until the pitstop, both him and myself running the softer compound.

I couldn't really pass him, so we decided to go for an overcut. When he made his mandatory stop, I stayed out for another lap, upping the pace by 1.4s. That was encouraging, so we opted to do one more lap on these tyres. And it was faster still, but Nato, on new hard tyres, went even quicker.

As a result, I rejoined close behind him. But just a lap later, I tried to give him a scare into Turn 1, leading to him locking up and getting a worse exit – and, into Turn 2, I just dived down the inside, and that was that.

Giovinazzi was next up the road, and he had an easier time dealing with traffic. He managed to pass two cars at once on the main straight, while I then lost time dealing with both of them, which hurt my tyres as well.

I caught Giovinazzi again shortly thereafter and was following him until the end of the race – but even though I tried to be careful with the tyres, the wear was much worse in the dirty air. So by the end, when I started to attack, I hit the cliff with about half a lap to go and had to settle for third.

Return to winning ways

After the bad start on Sunday, we took apart the clutch and we found the problem. As a result, on Sunday, we got what could very well be the best start of all this season – P6 to P2, a return to form shown last year.

I lined up behind race leader King on the safety car restart, and he went for a rather smart tactic when the race got back underway, going on the throttle in a place where I didn't expect it.

So, immediately, he had a bit of a gap, but he locked up in the penultimate corner, going off-track.

I'm not sure whether it would've been illegal to pass him there, but I figured I'd get another chance to go for victory and I let him back ahead.

Then we ended up side-by-side in Turn 1, then Turn 2, where I changed direction on him on exit to then go around the outside of Turn 3 for the lead.

From that point on, in clean air, the pace was ideal. I did not push to the limit at all, just managing the gap, in case there was a safety car or something like that.

In the final four laps – when I knew that, should anything happen, the race will not restart – I decided to up the pace, and the gap grew from 2.5s to 4.9s.

It's great to win, but it's a bit of a shame about Sunday's start. On race pace, even compared to the Prema duo, we were faster. But it's just so tough to pass around here.

In good spirits

We're now 37 points off the championship lead, but I'm trying not to think about the title picture yet. For now, we'll take it one race at a time and it's important to keep spirits high. This weekend will have made that an easier task, because we proved we can get it done.

The mindset from last year, when I had lots of fighting races, with aggression and overtakes – I think it's back and it's important I keep hold of it.

It'll be crucial, now, to keep clawing back ground to the leaders and, by the end of the season, we can start thinking about points.

It's good that Hockenheim is soon – to be honest, I'd be okay with racing every weekend. But it'll be especially welcome if we can maintain the form we've shown in Hungary.

shares
comments
Lynn: "DAMS isn't where it was last year"
Previous article

Lynn: "DAMS isn't where it was last year"

Next article

Evans: "I haven't paid a single dollar" since first year of GP2

Evans: "I haven't paid a single dollar" since first year of GP2
Load comments
What next for "too politically incorrect" for F1 Ticktum? Prime

What next for "too politically incorrect" for F1 Ticktum?

Having by his own admission "blown my chances" of reaching Formula 1, Dan Ticktum is facing an uncertain future. A driver of unquestioned ability who has at times been his own worst enemy, can he apply his lessons and rebuild his career hopes?

FIA F2
Sep 30, 2021
How Piastri could be forced to spend 2022 on the bench Prime

How Piastri could be forced to spend 2022 on the bench

Tipped as the next big thing after winning the FIA Formula 3 championship in his rookie season, Oscar Piastri has taken Formula 2 by storm and looks set to clinch that title too. But with no Formula 1 seat available to him for next year, the Alpine junior may have to wait for his time in the spotlight…

FIA F2
Sep 24, 2021
How Campos Racing has bounced back from its devastating loss Prime

How Campos Racing has bounced back from its devastating loss

After the sudden death of its founder in January, Formula 2 stalwart Campos Racing was left facing its hardest season to date. But new team boss Adrian Jr is determined to honour his father’s legacy and has returned the team to its winning ways

FIA F2
Sep 20, 2021
How F2 and F3's flawed format changes could prove shortlived Prime

How F2 and F3's flawed format changes could prove shortlived

After a chaotic 2020, marred by the coronavirus pandemic, the FIA brought in radical changes to Formula 2 and 3. But less than 12 months later, there are talks of them being reversed after all did not go to plan…

FIA F2
Sep 9, 2021
The Red Bull F1 junior aiming to defy geographical odds Prime

The Red Bull F1 junior aiming to defy geographical odds

It's a long way from Pukekohe New Zealand to Milton Keynes, but Red Bull's Kiwi protege Liam Lawson has defied plenty of odds to reach the rung below F1. He's endured disappointment since winning on his F2 debut in Bahrain, but is determined to turn his season around and prove himself worthy of a place on the F1 grid

FIA F2
Jul 27, 2021
How Red Bull's next F1 hopeful turned around his season Prime

How Red Bull's next F1 hopeful turned around his season

Having impressed in Formula 3, Juri Vips looked to be next cab off the rank in Red Bull's prestigious Junior Team before his 2020 schedule was dealt a heavy blow by the COVID-19 pandemic. After a tough start to life in Formula 2, Vips is showing signs of a recovery - could he be the first Estonian to reach Formula 1?

FIA F2
Jun 14, 2021
How F1 hopeful Pourchaire is re-writing the F2 record books Prime

How F1 hopeful Pourchaire is re-writing the F2 record books

He'd marked himself out as a star of the future in last year's FIA Formula 3 championship, but 17-year-old Theo Pourchaire underlined his credentials by winning his first Formula 2 race in the Monaco feature. Sauber junior status gives him a clear route to the top, but with wisdom beyond his years, he's not getting caught up in his own hype.

FIA F2
Jun 3, 2021
The F1 hopeful living two lives to keep his dream alive Prime

The F1 hopeful living two lives to keep his dream alive

Having lost his backing from Red Bull, Richard Verschoor has had to graft to continue his ascent up the single-seater ladder. An impressive Formula 2 debut in Bahrain, despite the lateness of his deal, shows his unorthodox approach is paying dividends.

FIA F2
Apr 22, 2021