Ralph Boschung’s rookie FIA Formula 2 Championship campaign continued at the Hungaroring (July 28-30) as a shot at a potential maiden series victory was denied by a combination of bad luck and a chain of bizarre occurrences.
With three points finishes from the past six races, the 19-year-old Swiss racer arrived in Hungary optimistic of scoring once more, and showed excellent racecraft and consistent pace that should have rewarded his efforts.
After spending free practice focusing on race set-up, Boschung was confident of a strong performance in qualifying, but a technical issue restricted him to just one late-session run, leaving him an unrepresentative 14th on the Feature-Race grid.
“We worked through the plan in practice and found a good qualifying set-up with the tyres,” said Boschung. “But just as qualifying was about to start, a number of alarm notices flashed up on the steering wheel and it was clear driving to the pitlane that something was wrong.
“The SCU was changed and that solved the problem, but left me with time for only one fast run. The data said I should have qualified third, but I found traffic in sector three and lost half a second. And this was in spite of my radio unit falling off and disturbing me so much I had to rip the wires out and throw it away!”
After making a lightning getaway and choosing a canny strategy of starting on Pirelli’s option tyres before switching to the harder primes at one-third distance, the Campos Racing driver had climbed into a points-scoring 10th place by the closing stages of the race.
Running ninth – and challenging for the eighth place that would have guaranteed him pole position for the partially-reversed-grid Sprint Race, Boschung was forced off the road by Jordan King – for which the Briton was given a 10-second penalty – and lost five places.
A superb late-race recovery to 11th left him just outside the points, but ruing what might have been.
“I think I made the best start of my career,” he added. “The pace was great too. We had a slight issue with the left-rear wheel at the tyre change too, which lost us time, but we still showed good pace to recover.
“I’d just passed Jordan King for ninth, but he went off the track and came back on like a kamikaze and hit me. I was right behind Norman Nato before that and he finished seventh, so I could easily have been eighth and taken the Sprint-Race pole.”
Starting 11th on Sunday, a clutch issue meant that Boschung could not get away from the grid on time and had to be pushed into the pits before his car would start.
Despite showing strong and consistent race pace, the lap lost meant that he was limited to 16th at the chequered flag. Boschung is now 15th in the Drivers’ Championship with four rounds to go.
“It’s obvious that we had top-eight pace all weekend, so it’s incredibly frustrating not to achieve those points through a combination of circumstances outside of my control, but the speed we have is encouraging for the rest of the season,” he said.
“But I would like to extend my warmest thanks to Malbuner, the leading meat business in Switzerland, with its newest snack innovation, the Pocket Sandwich, who helped me get this fantastic opportunity, as well as the Valais-based building company CP3 and Patrick Polli, Platinum Fighter Sales, Avanthay Real Estate and B63. I am also extremely grateful to the ‘Club 50’ members for their valuable support.”
The eighth round of the 2017 F2 Championship takes place at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium (25-27 August).
__________________________________________ Image copyright: FIA Formula 2 Championship