The Portuguese pilot, who is sponsored by Brose, finished third in the Main Race in Budapest to gain his fourth place on the podium in what is still early days in the season – the third straight weekend of racing he has stood on the rostrum. Since he narrowly missed out on the points by coming twelfth in the Opening Race, he surrendered his lead in the drivers’ championship. However, the Honda pilot is still in contention, just twelve points behind the new leader Jose-Maria Lopez (Citröen). “Third place in the Main Race is a good result. That means we’ve preserved our chances in the title battle,” said Monteiro. “But the best thing is that we proved we’re competitive even with 70 kilograms of compensation weight, whether in dry conditions or the rain.”
It was largely due to the changeable weather that he was not able to chalk up two top finishes on the Formula 1 track near Budapest. Tire selection was a lottery in the first race and Monteiro also took a gamble. After the track had almost dried out by the start of the race, the 39-year-old opted for slicks. However, that was to prove the wrong choice, since it started raining again shortly after the start. That meant Monteiro, who lined up in sixth on the grid, lost a number of places and finally crossed the line in twelfth. However, he still finished ahead of his rival for the title Lopez, who likewise picked the wrong tires and ended up in 14th. The surprise winner was the Moroccan Mehdi Bennani (Citröen). “I opted for the wrong tires. That cost us a number of valuable points,” admitted Monteiro. “We hadn’t expected the weather to worsen so quickly. But we’ll learn from it.”
Monteiro takes third in the Main Race
Things went much better for him in the Main Race, which he started from fourth. Since it was still raining, the choice of tires no longer played a major role. All the pilots lined up on rain tires. However, the wet track caused the odd slip or two, with the result that the safety car was called out as early as the third lap. Monteiro then captured third spot on lap ten, although that was not really down to himself. After contact between his Honda teammate Rob Huff and Yvan Muller (Citröen), Huff was given a drive-through penalty and so the British pilot lost his third place to Monteiro. The Portuguese driver held onto it securely. The race was won by the Argentinean Lopez.
“I feel sorry for Rob. I don’t really like being gifted a place on the rostrum. But sometimes you have to accept gifts,” said Monteiro, whose teammates had a lot of bad luck. Huff likewise failed to get among the points in the chaos of the rain-affected first race, but still managed to finish sixth in the second race despite his controversial penalty. Norbert Michelisz was even more frustrated and only picked up one point on his home turf in Hungary. In the Opening Race, his car came to a halt on the formation lap due to a technical defect and in the Main Race he broke the left rear suspension on the final lap. We wish the Honda pilots and Tiago Monteiro better luck and above all every success in the next weekend of racing in Marrakesh on May 7 and 8.