Euroformula: Vivien Keszthelyi P11 after first race at Hungaroring
Vivien Keszthelyi completed the first Euroformula race at Hungaroring in P11; the young Hungarian talent fought within the top-10 in the first half of the race, and encouraging pace leaves high hopes for tomorrow's two races.
Euroformula Open keeps providing drama and exciting battles at the front: at the first race of the fourth round we witnessed plenty of plot twists during the 18 laps around the Hungaroring – as newcomer Cem Bolukbasi bagged the win at his series debut.
Motopark teammates Jak Crawford and Cameron Das shared the front row of the grid following this morning’s qualifying session, ahead of other championship contender Luis Foster and Rafael Villagomez (Van Amersfoort Racing).
All the eyes were on home hero Vivien Keszthelyi – the 20-year old Hungarian driver returning to single-seaters after a partial campaign in W Series in 2019, for her first full-season championship in F3.
Keszthelyi had a great start to her championship in Portimao, where she battled comfortably in the mid-pack and scored her first points. At Paul Ricard, she struggled for pace and was left scratching her head with car issues that cost her straight line speed. Nevertheless, she still ws tenth in race 1, adding more points to her championship tally. Her best weekend so far, though, came at the driver’s favourite track of Spa Francorchamps: Keszthelyi scored in all the 3 races of the meeting and claimed an eighth place – her best result of the season thus far – showing good racecraft in the battles for P10 in Race 3 despite a late pit stop for a new front wing.
Vivien, who spent her first years in motorsport in touring cars and GT cars, was making her first start in single-seaters at her home track - writing a small but relevant chapter in the motorsport’s history of her country.
The first day of practice, though, was a mixed one for Keszthelyi, as she reported a lack of straight line speed. Motopark’s mechanics changed the engine overnight, thus allowing the young Hungarian star to bounce back in qualifying.
Indeed, Keszthelyi was much happier with her car after the qualifying session, showing significant improvements in lap times.
“I still have to improve in different parts in my driving, but the car is just amazing. Yesterday we had to change the engine, as we were missing quite some speed on the straights” - she told us.
“Everything went really well now, we have to check the data on where to improve, but compared to ourselves we made mega steps.”
She slotted into 11th place for race 1, after spending part of the session in eighth place and in a much tighter grid.
At lights out, a spectacular three-wide battle into turn one ended in tears for teammates Jak Crawford and Louis Foster: the two made contact and Foster spun, leaving Crawford with front wing damage. It was Cameron Das to get into the lead, followed by Turkish sensation Cem Bolukbasi and Rafael Villagomez.
Bolukbasi, a big name in esports converted to real racing, has previously raced in Asian F3 and made his debut at the home of the Hungarian GP in Euroformula. Having qualified fifth – after topping a practice session on Friday – Bolukbasi was quick to jump ahead of Crawford into turn 2, when the American flat-spotted his tyre and then had to pit for a front wing change.
Italian F4 graduate Joshua Durksen was also at his first appearance in Euroformula and had an equally impressive start, advancing into fourth place.
In the hectic first laps, Filip Kaminiarz cutted across the chicane passing Stevenson – but didn’t immediately hand the position back.
Keszthelyi held 11th place, and battled with the recovering Foster – the Brit would find a way past on lap 3 and immediately chased Enzo Scionti. A great move into the final corner gave the opportunity to Vivien Keszthelyi to join the battle as well and the Hungarian racer went side-by-side on the main straight - ultimately completing the brilliant move at Turn 2.
On a notoriously difficult to pass track, Keszthelyi advanced to P10 and started to close the gap to Chovanec.
Another dramatic turn of events brought to another lead change when Cameron Das hit trouble at Turn 5 and went off: he initially rejoined, but evident brake issues sent him into the gravel at the chicane, where he broke his front wing after impact with the gravel. Das slowly returned to the pits and retired.
This paved the way to Cem Bolukbasi, who went on to lead in spectacular style, never challenged by his pursuers. Villagomez and Durksen, in fact, battled for second and gave Bolukbasi the opportunity to open a safe margin of almost 4 seconds.
On the eighth lap, Keszthelyi spun and lost a position to Scionti; despite catching back with the American in the latter stages, she struggled to get closer enough to pass due to the inherent nature of the track for high-downforce cars.
Durksen continued to put pressure on Villagomez and, despite a small mistake by the Van Amersfoort Racing driver into Turn 11, he held off the attacks of the newcomer.
Cem Bolukbasi claimed his first win at debut, ahead of VAR teammate Villagomez and Durksen. Josh Mason was fifth and preceded Casper Stevenson, as Nazim Azman finished sixth ahead of title contender Louis Foster. The latter maintained his position also after a 5-second time penalty for a jump start.
Vivien Keszthelyi finished P11 in an otherwise positive race pace-wise: she was consistently faster than the two cars ahead – an encouraging sign for the two remaining races.
“Mixed feelings, we have improved massively and our race pace was really strong” – she said. “Learned a lot and hoping for at least one dry race to prove we can be more at the front but it’s now up to the weather as it looks there will be thunderstorms” – she added.
With two more races to go, Keszthelyi will try to capitalize on her pace tomorrow – as we keep an eye on the weather.
Race 2 will get underway at 10:25 CEST.