Despite difficult race 1, Léna Bühler gains positions in Mugello
Despite a difficult weekend on the very demanding Mugello circuit, Léna Bühler improved her lap times throughout the weekend and gained seven places to her starting position in the first race of the weekend.
The first season of the merged Formula Regional European Championship and Formula Renault Eurocup – which gave birth to the uber-competitive Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine – is approaching its final rounds of the 2021 season, with two rounds on the Italian capitals of motor racing: Mugello and Monza. Two weeks after the rescheduled round at Valencia, the drivers hit the track on a cold and damp Mugello, with weather conditions starting to play a part as the months go by. The Swiss driver had a positive second race at Circuit Ricardo Tormo, where she managed to gain several positions to finish P25 in a 34-car field. At Mugello, the grid grew to 36 cars, in one of the most crowded to date. In the pre-event test, Léna Bühler encountered some issues, leaving the Swiss racer with limited experience of the very technical track on the Tuscan hills. It was in fact her first visit at Mugello. Despite continuing to improve her lap times and closing the gap after every session, Léna qualified on the final row of the grid in Saturday's morning first race. Paul Aron took pole position for Prema Powerteam, alongside teammate Dino Beganovic and Michael Belov. The G4 Racing's driver – together with Franco Colapinto – has really been among the protagonists of the second half of the championship, often taking the spotlight from the early pace setters Gregoire Saucy and Hadrien David. Similarly, Spaniard Mari Boya has made remarkable progress throughout the season and qualified again on the second row, in fourth place. He preceded MP Motorsport's Franco Colapinto. Championship contenders Saucy, David and Maloney – who came into Mugello still with mathematical chances but with little hopes – were 6th, 7th and 17th. At lights out, Belov had a great getaway and chased Aron on the run up to Turn 1: the Russian moved into the lead soon after, when Aron went into the grass and dropped to second. Boya outbraked himself and ignited a multi-car crash that also involved Colapinto and Beganovic, bringing out the first Safety Car of the day. R-ace GP's Hadrien David also picked up damages and had to pit – putting his championship hopes under serious question. With a good start, his main title rival Saucy had advanced into third. Léna Bühler avoided the Turn 1 accident and moved into P33 as the race was neutralized. The race went back to green with 19 minutes left on the clock and pole sitter Aron was able to get back into the lead at Turn 1 – in a move that would prove crucial for the race win. Saucy, strong of his position in the championship, avoided any risks and gave way to David Vidales (Prema Powerteam), who moved up to third at the restart. Behind them, Bortoleto and Alatalo fought hard for fifth place. Jasin Ferati (KIC Motorsport) spun on the path of the incoming pack and was barely avoided by the recovering David, who would be able to advance to 23rd place. Léna Bühler also recovered another position. With 10 minutes to go, it was a 2-car battle for the victory, as only Aron and Belov seemed to have the pace to keep up. 3.5 seconds behind, Vidales and Saucy followed – but the second Safety Car bunched up the field once again on lap 10, when Pesce went deep into Turn 1 and crashed into Nico Gohler. Both were out of the race and the lengthy recovery meant that the drivers only had one more lap before the chequered flag. At the restart, Saucy was again cautious and left Alatalo by for fourth place, concluding his race in P5 and claiming the 2021 Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine title with three races spare. Race 1 victory went to Paul Aron – sealing his first win of the season – ahead of Michael Belov and David Vidales. On the final lap, Léna Bühler moved ahead of Nicola Marinangeli and crossed the finish line in P29, gaining seven positions from her starting place. While it surely was a difficult race for the Swiss driver, Bühler continued to close the gap and she set her best lap times of the weekend. With one qualifying and one race still left on Sunday, Léna hopes to further improve and better capitalize on her potential. Qualifying 2 goes underway at 09:00 CEST, followed by Race 2 at 14:40 local time.