Liam Lawson was hoping for a fiery start to his third round of the FIA Formula 3 championship at the Hungaroring, but the young Kiwi was in for more than he bargained for when his car dramatically burst into flames at Turn 1 a handful of laps into the race.
Meanwhile, ART’s Theo Pourchaire scored his second consecutive win with a convincing drive to lead home the field by a crushing 11.2 seconds.
The Red Bull Junior was running fourth at the end of a sloppy lap one which was punctuated by a multi-car accident triggered by second-starting Logan Sargeant lunging polesitter Alexander Smolyar on the inside of turn one.
The Prema driver lost control on a damp track and knocked the Russian out which saw several drivers behind, including recent race winner Frederik Vesti clash with Calan Williams – both cars skewed across the track in a clumsy incident which brought out the safety car.
The incident elevated Lawson from 11th to fourth at the safety car restart and the Kiwi immediately went on the charge to chase down Sargeant.
The Prema racer demonstrated a sign of weakness at Turn 5, forcing the Kiwi off the road on successive laps as Lawson searched in vain for a way past his rival.
Spots of rains and ashen skies made the circuit incredibly slippery and when Lawson’s Hitech machine’s power unit let go in dramatic fashion entering Turn 1 it smothered the racing line in oil causing a myriad of drivers to skate off the road.
The Kiwi pulled off the road with flames licking the engine cover, bringing out a red flag as marshals were compelled to laydown soak and clean the racing line.
After a lengthy delay the race was restarted with 14 of 22 laps remaining. Pourchaire had been promoted to the lead and took the green flag ahead of Oscar Piastri, Sargeant and Sebastian Fernandez.
Piastri was nursing a wounded car from an earlier incident which allowed Pourchaire to build a healthy lead which would go unchallenged.
A circuit characterised by its slow, technical corners, the Hungaroring is notoriously difficult to overtake on and it showed as Sargeant began to head a train of cars which he would lead all the way to the chequered flag.
Richard Verschoor offered some late race entertainment, the Dutchman quickly passing his MP Motorsport teammate and countryman Brent Viscaal before the duo both made light work of Fernandez for fourth.
Viscaal then narrowed the gap back to his teammate and a last lap move on Verschoor promoted the Dutch pilot to fourth, holding out his teammate by 0.7s.
Lawson will now spend the evening investigating the cause of the costly retirement, his second successive DNF.
The final F3 race of the weekend, a reverse of the top-10, is slated for 7.30 pm NZT tomorrow.
Main Image: FIA Formula 3
|Ret||Lirim Zendeli||+16 laps|
|Ret||Liam Lawson||+18 laps|
|Ret||Jack Doohan||+19 laps|
|Ret||Alexander Smolyar||+21 laps|
|Ret||Frederik Vesti||+22 laps|
|Ret||Calan Williams||+22 laps|