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Palmer extends GP2 championship lead after battle with title rival

Saturday, July 26 2014

A fighting drive from Jolyon Palmer in the GP2 Feature Race in Budapest today saw him get the better of title-rival Felipe Nasr in an epic scrap for position and extend his championship lead over the Brazilian driver to 39 points. Both Palmer and Nasr lead the race, before the interruption of Safety Car periods upset the frontrunners' tyre strategies, with Jolyon eventually classified fourth after Stefano Coletti was penalised post race.   

Starting from sixth on the grid, Palmer made a storming start to rise to fourth at turn one, and then passed Stoffel Vandoorne around the outside of turn two to take third.

Passing Tom Dillmann for second at turn one on lap two, Palmer next set about chasing down pole-sitter and title rival Felipe Nasr, setting a string of fastest laps to cut the Brazilian's lead to under three seconds before a Safety Car was deployed on lap seven because of an incident between Stephane Richelmi and Kimiya Sato. 

When the race resumed on lap nine, Jolyon applied immediate pressure on Nasr, the pair separated only by fractions of a second and engaging in an epic scrap for the lead as they built a strong advantage over third-placed Tom Dillmann. 

By lap 20, Jolyon was all over Nasr, who appeared to have used up the grip in his tyres. On lap 25, Palmer made a move at turn one, but Nasr stayed around the outside and dived back into the lead at turn two, forcing Jolyon wide.

Nasr pitted at the end of the lap, putting Jolyon into the lead. Palmer pitted on the next lap and emerged ahead of Nasr, recording excellent in and out laps. Nasr, though, had the advantage of building heat into his tyres sooner, and moved past Jolyon at turn two. The pair were now in 13th and 14th places as the safety car's interruption of the race pace had upset drivers' race strategies and turned the race on its head. Those drivers who started on soft tyres were handed an advantage and were able to move ahead of the runners on medium compound rubber, including Palmer, when the race's original front runners made their stops.

Undeterred, Palmer made another move on Nasr on lap 28, this time taking the outside line at turn one, then again at turn two and forcing his way past at turn three, but Nasr fought back and regained the position at the chicane. Jolyon made another, decisive passing move at turn one on lap 30, getting past Nasr this time for good. Moments later, contact between two runners in front necessitated another safety car.

With the safety car staying out for several laps, the race was run to time, meaning the race distance was reduced. By the time the safety car pitted, there was just one racing lap remaining, with Jolyon running sixth and Nasr seventh. Palmer made a move past Daniel Abt for fifth on the start-finish straight, but Nasr wasn't able to follow suit. Fifth became fourth post-race when podium finisher Stefano Coletti was penalised for causing contact with Julian Leal.

This means Palmer - who finished just 0.1s behined third-placed Takuya Izawa - once more extends his championship lead over Nasr and now has 180 points in the championship battle to the Brazilian's 141.

Jolyon commented: "It's disappointing to end up fourth, but the race still feels like a victory for me. I had really good pace all through the race and had a great scrap with Nasr for the lead.

"Unfortunately, a couple of safety cars meant that we lost out with strategy and I could only finish fourth, but these things happen. The pace was good and I managed to pass Nasr which is important for the championship. I start fifth tomorrow so I'm hoping to be on the podium again."

1. A Pic, Campos, 35 laps
2. A Quaife Hobbs, Rapax, +3.1s
3. T Izawa, ART GP, +3.6s
4. J Palmer, DAMS, +3.8s
5. D Abt, Hilmer, +5.1s
6. F Nasr, Carlin, +5.1s
7. S Vandoorne, ART GP, +6.2s
8. N Berthon, Venezuela, +7.0s
9. T Dillmann, Caterham, +7.6s
10. M Sorensen, MP Motorsport, +8.1s 

The GP2 sprint race starts at 9.35UK time, with full reports available on www.jolyonpalmer.com