It was a race that required a delicate right foot as drivers managed the tyres in an action-filled Sprint Race around the Hungaroring. For Paul Aron, the race was a positive step after a tough Qualifying left him behind both of his PREMA Racing teammates.
Finishing fourth in the Sprint put more important points on the board and the Estonian is keen to make use of the information he and the team gathered on Saturday. While other rivals struggled to keep the medium tyres in shape, Aron says he and PREMA had a good understanding of how to get the best from the new Pirelli rubber.
“The race did go as expected. If the question is did it go as planned, then not really,” Aron explained. “We expected a lot of degradation already from Practice and Qualifying, so we knew that it was coming, and we saw it in the race, there was a lot of degradation, the most we’ve ever seen basically in this Championship. So it did mix up the race, we managed to finish fourth which was good, we got good points for the Championship and that was the goal after a difficult Qualifying yesterday.
“The plan was to manage the tyres at the beginning and go for it at the end but let’s say, I was maybe a bit impatient which ruined our plan, but we still had good pace and I think we’re in a good place for tomorrow.
“Martí is struggling this weekend, he’s second in the Championship and it’s a good opportunity for me to gain points on him and Bortoleto, who’s leading. But I would say Qualifying yesterday wasn’t ideal. I got beaten by both of my teammates which is obviously on me. So the goal was to make as much as we could in this race and then do the best job possible tomorrow to gain as many points throughout the weekend because my teammates are starting up front in race two which means they have a better chance of scoring big tomorrow.”
While the tyres gave drivers a few headaches, it did promote a lot of action and overtaking. There was no shortage of opportunity around a circuit that usually provides very few true passing places across one lap.
Aron kept himself very busy throughout the race, battling away with Christian Mansell of Campos Racing. It was a pleasant surprise for the PREMA driver, who was expecting a much tougher time keeping in touch with the drivers ahead due to the dirty air and many corners of the Hungaroring.
“I guess looking at the circuit itself, the overtaking was easier than usual. With the degradation, there was a bigger gap in drivers’ pace and that allowed for more overtaking. There wasn’t this usual DRS train because you can’t follow close enough to stay in the DRS train, it’s already too much for the tyres. So it was more a game of management and then when the opportunity arose, you just had to go for it and take it. But then, you need to take into account that if the move is too much for the tyres you’re going to ruin the rest of you race. So you need to play a strategic game and the moves have to be done cleanly to still keep the tyres for the rest of the race.”
Looking ahead to the Feature Race, Aron has all he needs to know to repeat his performance in the Sprint and score more points this weekend. Having built up the knowledge of how to maximise the tyres, it’ll be all about who can put what they learned on Saturday into practice on Sunday.
“I’m starting from the same place tomorrow as I did today in P6, which is nice. We already have an idea of how much grip there is in that starting position and we have a better idea of the tyres. Everyone does but I think we were quite quick today compared to many other drivers and if we’re able to maintain this advantage, we’ll have a good shot tomorrow to moving forward more in the race and play it even smarter.”