Evans charges to second in Hungarian GP2 Sprint race

Evans started alongside Frenchman Nathaniel Berthon on the front row of the grid and drove a good tactical race to preserve his tyres in the sweltering heat of Central Europe. At the finish Evans was just 2.2 seconds behind Berthon.

"Today we really deserved this result. I was really hoping for the win, but Nat was just too quick. Our pace was very equal,” said Evans. "We pulled away a lot from the rest of the field and I was trying to manage my tyres and save them and so I could have a go at the end.

"I was hoping his tyres would drop off, but they did not drop enough and when I was catching him, I was using my rear tyres as well. At the end I had nothing left.”

Following three third-place podium finishes earlier in the year, it was the best result yet for the 19-year-old Aucklander in his debut season in GP2. It restores Evans into tenth place in the GP2 standings after seven of the 11 rounds.

"It’s been a long time coming since my last one because we have had a really good pace at Silverstone and Germany but a lot of things have stopped us from getting those results. The team have done a really good job since our last podium in Monaco but things have not gone our way.”

"I was hoping to get past him at the start of the race but he was pushing and I was holding back and kept the gap. I was hoping those laps were going to hurt him at the end of the race but, although he was dropping off a lot, it was not enough.

"Had I pushed more my tyres would have gone more quickly. It’s a very hard balance because when the person in front of you is pushing, it’s very hard to judge and anticipate what could happen at the end of the race.”

"Chris Gorne (Evans’s Arden International race engineer) was telling me on the radio to back out more, but I could not let the gap get too big either. I was just trying to manage it and save the tyres at the same time.

His fourth podium finish means Evans has finished in a points scoring position at fifty per cent of the 14 GP2 races to date this season. The Series now has a one month summer break before the season resumes at the Spa Francorchamp circuit in Belgium on August 24-25.

"We will keep the same thing we’ve been doing and just try and improve anyway that we can. We’re not far away. We’re very competitive in the race especially. I made a mistake in qualifying this weekend and that’s a mistake that I will probably never do again. We will keep pushing on and try and improve as always. We need to be at the right place at the right time and hopefully have another good result in Spa.

Berthon claimed his maiden GP2 victory in fine style, leading his rivals from pole to flag with a mature drive to win from Evans and Fabio Leimer.

When the lights went out Berthon made a solid start, with Evans pulling away from the other side of the front row in formation, while behind them Leimer made a great start from sixth to be third at the first corner.

Marcus Ericsson renewed hostilities with Felipe Nasr from the Saturday race by jumping past the Brazilian, with the pair making short work of passing Simon Trummer and Stéphane Richelmi as the field headed down the hill from the front straight.

There was chaos behind them as everyone looked for space, with Sergio Canamasas and Daniel de Jong coming together out of the first turn: the Dutchman spun into Johnny Cecotto while Adrian Quaife-Hobbs had nowhere to go but into the Spaniard. The resulting damage led to a safety car period to remove the cars.

One lap later the race ran live, with Berthon making a strong restart to hold his lead before heading away as he set a string of fastest laps. Behind him Evans’ engineer was pushing for caution, however, knowing that 28 laps at the Hungaroring is long, and hard on tyres.

With the race running down, everyone picked up the pace around lap 20, and the question on everyone’s lips was whether Berthon would be able to respond: Evans started to close the gap, The Frenchman was able to pick up enough pace to offset some of the losses and although the New Zealander cut a few seconds out of his lead, Berthon held on to win by 2.2 seconds, with Leimer 11 sec further back in third.

Ericsson drove a mature race to pick up points for fourth, while Nasr fell away from the Swede in the second half of the race but hung on from James Calado for fifth. Trummer had a lonely race for seventh when Sam Bird dropped away in the closing laps, but still clung on for the final point in eighth.

In spite of a tough weekend with no hint of points, Stefano Coletti heads into the August break with the lead in the championship. He is on 135 points from Nasr on 129, while Leimer closed in on 110 points, ahead of Bird on 92 and Calado on 90. Evans has reclaimed tenth in the standings with 56 points.