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UNOFFICIAL F3000 INFORMATION

 FIA International F3000 Round 9: Hungaroring (HUN), 12th August 2000

 

QUALIFYING:

Hungary, virtually guaranteed to produce a totally dry weekend which has proved rare in F3000 this season, remarkably saw rain before the first qualifying session. The rain fell after the Friday F1 practice and left damp patches on the track surface. When the cars went out on their first lap, only Soheil Ayari went out on wets. Ayari had finally made his debut in the no.19 WRT car, which was the least white it had looked all season with the Frenchman's Carglass sponsorship adorning it. Ayari missed the previous round after contractual problems stopped him from joining WRT after acrimoniously leaving Coloni. Even this weekend, Dino Morelli turned up expecting to drive for the team again, only to be told his services wouldn't be required. The move didn't help Ayari, who qualified only 21st after a series of spins. Fabrice Walfisch, on the other hand, was boosted on his return to F3000 with Coloni. The Frenchman, dropped by Astromega earlier in the year, qualified a season-best 9th on the circuit at which he took pole last year.

It was Bruno Junqueira (Petrobras Junior) who took pole at the Hungaroring, setting the pace through much of both sessions despite a quick spin. The Brazilian desperately needed this return to form after his mid-season slump. Junqueira's championship rival Nicolas Minassian, both drivers still equal on points and on countback results, struggled and could only end the day in fourth position on a track where grid placing is crucial. Justin Wilson (Nordic) took second, the 1998 Formula Palmer Audi champion's first ever front-row start, while Fernando Alonso (Astromega) matched his qualifying position from Magny-Cours with an excellent third, although a crash blotted his copybook. Behind Minassian, the third row would be occupied by the Red Bull Junior pair of Ricardo Mauricio and Enrique Bernoldi, Mauricio surprisingly outpacing his team-mate and countryman. The McLaren junior drivers who dominated the previous round at Hockenheim struggled, Tomas Enge qualifying 10th and rookie Tomas Scheckter taking 17th on the grid. Mark Webber (European Arrows), third in the standings, would find it difficult to close the gap to the series leaders from 11th on the grid. His team had set the target of retaking third in the team standings from McLaren. Sebastien Bourdais (Gauloises Formula) had set the 14th fastest time, but after failing to attend a drivers' briefing he was stripped of his fastest lap and demoted to 16th on the grid.

The first session saw times steadily tumble as the track dried. Junqueira set the early pace, but Alonso stunned many to top the times on his first visit to the circuit, only for Junqueira to respond again. Minassian dropped down the order and looked to be out of points contention before rising to fifth by the end of the session. Webber meanwhile ended the first session in a strong second, only for it all to go wrong in the second session, while Alonso was fourth. Junqueira's team-mate Jaime Melo Jr crashed heavily in turn 4 on his third lap. With no spare car, he was guaranteed not to qualify. Marc Goossens (Astromega) stopped out on the circuit, but was able to rejoin later. The second session saw times continue to improve. Junqueira set the pace throughout until a superb lap from Wilson promoted him into P1. Again, Junqueira responded and retook provisional pole. Various drivers including Junqueira, Yves Olivier (Witmeur KTR), Ananda Mikola (WRT) and Bernoldi had spins or offs during the session on the dusty track. The worst incident went to Alonso who crashed at the final corner halfway through the session, deranging his yellow Lola's front end. His time for third on the grid still remained unchallenged. Webber slipped back to 11th on the grid, having used up two of his three sets of tyres in session 1. The drivers that failed to qualify were Olivier, Viktor Maslov (Arden Team Russia), Andreas Scheld (Fortec) and Melo Jr.

 

RACE:

The tight and twisty Hungaroring lived up to its reputation this year, producing the most processional race of the season since the Imola opener. Nevertheless it marked the undeniable return to form of Bruno Junqueira. Never losing the lead from his pole position, Junqueira drove a superb race in the searing heat to snatch the championship lead from Nicolas Minassian, who could only manage fourth. The race also saw the result that Fernando Alonso has promised all year. After a quick start, the young Spaniard chased Junqueira throughout the race and didn't let the Brazilian pull open an unbeatable lead. It was a result that should ensure Astromega will remain in the series next year. Third went to Ricardo Mauricio, the young Brazilian having by far his best F3000 race in his two seasons of competition. Behind Minassian, Justin Wilson took fifth, ruing his poor start from second on the grid, while Enrique Bernoldi was a lonely sixth. It was hardly a race to set the pulses racing.

The race was decided at the start where the only real action took place. Junqueira got away well from pole while Wilson, on the dusty right-hand side of the grid, blew the start. The Briton was sandwiched down the straight, with a fast-starting Mauricio to his right and Alonso to his left. Alonso made the move before the first corner, slipping into second, while Mauricio completed his move into turn 1. Wilson also fell to fifth when Minassian passed him. Bernoldi, also starting on the dirty side of the track, held station in sixth place. And the race was effectively overů

Two drivers were in trouble before the race began. Hockenheim winner Tomas Enge stalled at the start of the formation lap. He restarted but would have to start in last place on the grid. Ananda Mikola suffered the same problem Dino Morelli retired with in Hockenheim: on his way to the dummy grid, a fuel pump failure left the Indonesian sitting in a pool of fuel. He pulled into the pits and would start the race when 10 laps had been completed, only to find the problem hadn't gone away and then pull out after 1 lap.

Junqueira gradually built up an advantage over Alonso, extending it to 5 seconds by lap 15. Mauricio meanwhile could not keep up with the lead battle, but was untroubled by Minassian behind who had to concentrate on holding off Wilson. The only action in the remainder of the race occurred further down the field. Andre Couto (Gauloises Formula) passed Mario Haberfeld into turn 1, while Kevin McGarrity (Nordic) retired in the pits with suspension failure after an early clash with Soheil Ayari. A series of incidents enlivened the action later in the race. After 17 laps Couto slid off the track at turn 3 and retired on the spot, apparently with broken rear left suspension. Tomas Scheckter then tried to pass Marc Goossens into the first chicane. Predicably the two collided, Goossens' Lola flicked up onto two wheels. Scheckter was forced to pit, later rejoining, while Goossens could continue. The incident brought more gravel onto the track where it had already been kicked up by cars running over the edges of the chicane. Christijan Albers (European Arrows) then crawled into the pits and retirement with broken left rear suspension. Kristian Kolby (DAMS) then spun into turn 1, ending up beached on the kerbing. Jeffrey van Hooydonk (Witmeur KTR) had also spun out of the race. While marshals assisted Dane Kolby in rejoining the track the safety car was deployed. Cynics would suggest it was to give spectators a second chance of an exciting race, but officially it was to deal with the Kolby incident and allow marshals to sweep away the gravel at the first chicane. During the safety car period Enge suffered a quick spin but continued.

After three laps the safety car pulled in, but the status quo was soon resumed. Alonso took advantage at the restart, chasing Junqueira into turn 1 and attempting to pass on the inside, only for Junqueira to close the door for the final time that afternoon. Behind them Mauricio made an appalling restart, entering the straight when the lead pair were already accelerating towards the line. Minassian also failed to keep up with Junqueira, holding up the pack of cars behind him. After a similar restart at Hockenheim, some of the F3000 field could learn a thing or two from US racing. And that was how they stayed, no changes in position in the top 6 to the end of the race. Behind, Haberfeld ran wide in turn 3, allowing Goossens to pass. More significantly, Wilson was putting real pressure on Minassian for fourth place and clearly had the faster car. Chasing Minassian into the fast and blind turn 4, Wilson's Coca-Cola sponsored Lola slid sideways, but the tall Brit held it and kept position. Later Scheckter made a rare pass on Andrea Piccini (Kid Jensen Racing) into turn 1, only to run wide and immediately lose the position. Webber then slid wide into the gravel, dropping behind Darren Manning (Arden Team Russia) into 9th. Goossens then pitted for fresh tyres, the Belgian veteran returning to the circuit to salvage a fastest lap from an otherwise fruitless race.

In this second portion of the race, Junqueira was again able to pull out a lead to Alonso, but a mistake in the late stages saw Alonso close back up. The pair crossed the line with just over three-tenths between them, but in reality Junqueira had the race under control. Alonso took a superb second, not bad for a driver who only turned 19 a month ago. The Spaniard is proving a valuable asset to the Astromega team, shattered by the loss of their previous mercurial talent, Gonzalo Rodriguez, almost one year ago. His six points promote Astromega to equal tenth in the championship, where they should be safe from the threat of relegation. Mauricio drove a lonely and untroubled race to third. If anyone was to take the (formerly RSM Marko) team's first podium since Juan Pablo Montoya in 1997, it seemed likely it would have been Bernoldi who has driven better all season. Bernoldi however matched his grid slot with sixth. Minassian finished fourth with Wilson, now suffering from blistered tyres after his early efforts, more than a second behind.

Junqueira now breaks the deadlock at the head of the championship, leading with 48 points to Minassian's 41. At Spa-Francorchamps in two weeks time, Junqueira has a clear advantage as Minassian must win to clinch the championship. He is still confident he can do it, however, on the circuit he ran well at last year. He told Autosport: "This weekend I gave my best, but it wasn't enough. The title is still winnable, however, and I usually go well at Spa." Junqueira also ran well at Spa last year before a clash with Soheil Ayari's Oreca machine put him out. He said: "I am not going to worry about the title. I will just focus on my job at Spa and try to win the race, as usual. It's obviously nice to be going with an advantage, but the battle is far from over." Junqueira only has to finish third at Spa to guarantee him the title. If he was to finish fourth and Minassian won, the Frenchman would win the title on countback due to the extra podium finish, despite the fact the drivers would finish equal on points. Webber, who finished 9th at the Hungaroring, is now no longer in mathematical contention for the title. He set a target earlier in the season of 30 points by season's end, but to achieve that now the rookie will have to win at Spa.

 

QUALIFYING:

Pos

Driver

Team

Time

1

Bruno Junqueira (BR)

Petrobras Junior

1m27.531s

2

Justin Wilson (GB)

Nordic

1:27.904

3

Fernando Alonso (E)

Astromega

1:28.196

4

Nicolas Minassian (F)

Super Nova

1:28.292

5

Ricardo Mauricio (BR)

Red Bull Junior

1:28.301

6

Enrique Bernoldi (BR)

Red Bull Junior

1:28.382

7

Bas Leinders (B)

Kid Jensen Racing

1:28.408

8

Darren Manning (GB)

Arden Team Russia

1:28.472

9

Fabrice Walfisch (F)

Coloni

1:28.498

10

Tomas Enge (CZ)

mySAP.com Team (McLaren junior)

1:28.567

11

Mark Webber (AUS)

European Formula (Arrows junior)

1:28.620

12

Marc Goossens (B)

Astromega

1:28.743

13

David Saelens (B)

Super Nova

1:28.750

14

Fabrizio Gollin (I)

Coloni

1:28.981

15

Franck Montagny (F)

DAMS

1:29.009

16*

Sebastien Bourdais (F)*

Gauloises Formula (Prost junior)

1:28.782*

17

Tomas Scheckter (ZA)

mySAP.com Team (McLaren junior)

1:29.023

18

Christijan Albers (NL)

European Formula (Arrows junior)

1:29.023

19

Kevin McGarrity (GB)

Nordic

1:29.045

20

Mario Haberfeld (BR)

Fortec

1:29.089

21

Soheil Ayari (F)

WRT

1:29.139

22

Jeffrey van Hooydonk (B)

Witmeur KTR

1:29.165

23

Andrea Piccini (I)

Kid Jensen Racing

1:29.288

24

Andre Couto (MAC)

Gauloises Formula (Prost junior)

1:29.610

25

Kristian Kolby (DK)

DAMS

1:29.610

26

Ananda Mikola (RI)

WRT

1:29.855

Non-qualifiers:

27

Yves Olivier (B)

Witmeur KTR

1:30.388

28

Viktor Maslov (RUS)

Arden Team Russia

1:30.805

29

Andreas Scheld (D)

Fortec

1:30.388

30

Jaime Melo Jr (BR)

Petrobras Junior

1:48.460

*Note: Bourdais stripped of fastest lap after failing to attend driver briefing, therefore drops from 14th to 16th.

(All cars Lola B99/50-Zytek)

 

RACE RESULT:

Final classification, Hungaroring (HUN), 52 laps - 128.44 miles

Pos

Driver

Team

Time

1

Bruno Junqueira (BR)

Petrobras Junior

1hr21m30.052s

2

Fernando Alonso (E)

Astromega

+ 0.594s

3

Ricardo Mauricio (BR)

Red Bull Junior

+ 5.813

4

Nicolas Minassian (F)

Super Nova

+ 11.141

5

Justin Wilson (GB)

Nordic

+ 12.505

6

Enrique Bernoldi (BR)

Red Bull Junior

+ 18.102

7

Bas Leinders (B)

Kid Jensen Racing

+ 26.433

8

Darren Manning (GB)

Arden Team Russia

+ 28.368

9

Mark Webber (AUS)

European Formula (Arrows junior)

+ 30.001

10

Fabrice Walfisch (F)

Coloni

+ 35.392

11

David Saelens (B)

Super Nova

+ 40.176

12

Franck Montagny (F)

DAMS

+ 40.498

13

Soheil Ayari (F)

WRT

+ 40.925

14

Sebastien Bourdais (F)

Gauloises Formula (Prost junior)

+ 44.721

15

Mario Haberfeld (BR)

Fortec

+ 51.213

16

Andrea Piccini (I)

Kid Jensen Racing

+ 55.067

17

Tomas Enge (CZ)

mySAP.com Team (McLaren junior)

+ 55.382

18

Fabrizio Gollin (I)

Coloni

+ 57.628

19

Marc Goossens (B)

Astromega

- 1 lap

20

Kristian Kolby (DK)

DAMS

- 1 lap

21

Tomas Scheckter (ZA)

mySAP.com Team (McLaren junior)

- 2 laps

R

Christijan Albers (NL)

European Formula (Arrows junior)

22 laps; suspension

R

Jeffrey van Hooydonk (B)

Witmeur KTR

21 laps; spin

R

Andre Couto (MAC)

Gauloises Formula (Prost junior)

17 laps; spin

R

Ananda Mikola (RI)

WRT

1 lap; fuel pump

R

Kevin McGarrity (GB)

Nordic

1 lap; suspension

Fastest Lap: Goossens (1:30.320)

(All cars Lola B99/50-Zytek) Key: R=Retired, NC=not classified, dq=disqualified, NS=did not start

(All cars Lola B99/50-Zytek)

 

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

Standings after Round 9 of 10

Pos

Driver

Team

Points

1

Bruno Junqueira (BR)

Petrobras Junior

48

2

Nicolas Minassian (F)

Super Nova

41

3

Mark Webber (AUS)

European Formula (Arrows junior)

21

4=

Tomas Enge (CZ)

mySAP.com Team (McLaren junior)

14

 

Justin Wilson (GB)

Nordic

14

6

David Saelens (B)

Super Nova

12

7

Darren Manning (GB)

Arden

10

8

Sebastien Bourdais (F)

Gauloises Formula (Prost junior)

9

9=

Fabrizio Gollin (I)

Coloni

7

 

Fernando Alonso (E)

Astromega

7

11=

Jamie Davies (GB)

Fortec

6

 

Jaime Melo Jr. (BR)

Petrobras Junior

6

 

Tomas Scheckter (ZA)

mySAP.com Team (McLaren junior)

6

14=

Franck Montagny (F)

DAMS

5

 

Enrique Bernoldi (BR)

Red Bull Junior

5

16=

Andre Couto (MAC)

Gauloises Formula (Prost junior)

4

 

Ricardo Mauricio (BR)

Red Bull Junior

4

18=

Kevin McGarrity (GB)

Nordic

3

 

Stephane Sarrazin (F)

mySAP.com Team (McLaren junior)

3

 

Jeffrey van Hooydonk (B)

Witmeur KTR

3

Andrea Piccini (I)

Kid Jensen Racing

3

22

Kristian Kolby (DK)

DAMS

2

23=

Soheil Ayari (F)

Coloni / WRT

1

Scoring: 10-6-4-3-2-1.

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