Felix Perez has notched up his second win of the season in the Sprint Race at Hockenhiem. In doing so became the first driver in the FV2 series to notch up multiple victories this season. He was joined on the podium by a delighted Henri Aliagas and Elnur Aliyev, both holding off strong competition to maintain their positions in the closing laps.
Aliagas, starting from pole made the perfect start, putting a car length between himself and Alexander McLaughlin as they came to Turn 1. Further back, Lucio Valente made the worst start of the Top 10, dropping from 6th on the grid to 11th by the end of the first sector.
Despite the race being moved to Monday along with the FV due to the track breaking up, drivers reported the grip in the warm up laps be slightly green. Drivers however began slipping and sliding immediately over the resurfaced section, most notably Luuk van der Straten, who went onto the grass, demoting him to 6th from 3rd.
Further up the road, Aleksandr Hadzic wasn't so lucky, as he lost the rear and clipped the wall, forcing him out of the race on the spot.
Despite the issues on circuit, the field was remaining relatively tight. Any error drivers made would prove costly with the field as bunched up as it was. Drivers would constantly be battling the cars as they struggled around the 2 corners in question.
On sections where the grip was there, like the Turn 6 hairpin was where Brittany Johnson began to show her hand. In the opening 4 laps she had climbed from 25th to 21st with 4 late braking maneuvers on the cars ahead of her.
Her speed would be momentarily stalled as a crash between Sergio Alvarez and an out of control Hunter Ryan brought out the safety car. Replays showed the Australian lost the rear and spun the car at Turn 8, whilst Alvarez simply had nowhere to go and ran into Hunter's rear tyre, putting both out of the race. The resulting drama of driverrs spreading left right and center, as well as the slip ups and slides in the final sector, resulted in the following order cruising around behind the safety car:
From the restart Alexander McLaughlin was all over the back of Aliagas for the lead, and he took his opportunity entering the hairpin to go up the inside and take the lead of the race smack bang on the halfway point.
That position was to be under no threat from Viktor Ostberg however as he spun the car at the final corner and lost his rear wing. He didn't continue and retired from the race. His spin however caught many drivers around him of guard, allowing Felix Perez to cut through the traffic and find himself in 4th place.
Despite taking the lead, McLaughlin wasn't able to pull a gap on the field, Aliagas and Zozulya weren't quite close enough to pull an overtake but they weren't getting dropped. It allowed Perez to close up but he couldn't quite make the move either.
The same couldn't be said for Lucio Valente and Rodolfo de la Fuente, who spent an entire haf lap virtually side by side, eventually the Spaniard was able to maintain his position by going around the outside in the stadium section.
Brittany Johnson was also showing the leaders how to get it done. Despite starting 25th on the grid, the American was flying and ran 16th as the race came into the final laps, where the race became anybody's to win.
... except Alexander McLaughlin. His brakes failed on him in the final sector from the lead. He stopped the car and threw the wheel away in disgust as his car let him down. His incident caused a chain reaction that caused a train behind Aliagas, all the way back to de la Fuente in 10th.
James Vasquez began proceedings with an overtake on Ikram Aliyev, followed through immediately on the Parabolica by de la Fuente into 6th and 7th respectively.
2 corners later it was Oleksandr Zozulya running wide, allowing Perez and Elnur Aliyev into 2nd and 3rd infront of the Mercedes Stand. He was lucky not to spin the car on the kerb and lose even more time, but the move cost him any chance of winning.
Perez set the fastest lap and in doing so closed right up on Aliagas. It didn't take long for the Mexican to make the move as he took the inside line at Turn 2 with 3 laps to go. Further back, Vasquez gave van der Straten the same treatment as he moved into the Top 5 for the first time in the race.
As the racing calmed down inside the points paying positions, Zhivko Dimitrov began his charge to try and reach the Top 12. He quickly jumped Johnson and Haugland and suddenly sat 13th, where Andrey Kerzhakov made sure he stayed til the end.
Perez after taking the lead however didn't need to look in his mirrors as he pulled away to win the race by 2 seconds over an ecstatic Henri Aliagas and Elnur Aliyev. Zozulya and Vasquez were right behind both drivers as they crossed the line but they had to settle for 4th and 5th. Full results below:
So Felix Perez with his 2nd win of the campaign sees him move to 2nd in the championship, 11 points off a fast finishing James Vasquez. Elnur Aliyev's maiden podium has seen him take the lead in terms of the rookies in the series, with him now 4 points ahead of Holzberg, who had a weekend to forget in his home event.
Join us again soon at the Red Bull Ring for the next installment of FV2! For full standings and race reports and more, check the FV2 wiki, link below, and we'll see you soon!