Four races, four winners. The beginning of the Formula 2 championship has not yet found an absolute protagonist, but many actors who aspire to the role of first choice. If Pourchaire and Boschung had dominated in Bahrain, in Saudi Arabia they disappointed, especially the Frenchman, protagonist of a black weekend between accidents and penalties.
The sprint race saw Iwasa triumphant in a final in which he was able to contain the attacks of Daruvala and Martins, author of a good comeback from the middle of the grid.
The feature race, which saw Vesti win with a wait-and-see race, turned out to be less confusing and tense, but there were twists and turns, starting with the two spins that conditioned the races of Martins and Bearman.
Sprint race: Iwasa wins by resisting the attacks
After the first success that came in the last round of 2022, Ayumu Iwasa repeated himself, conquering his first triumph of the season in the Sprint race on Saturday. A victory that came with an extremely intelligent race, starting from the moment in which he was able to take the lead at the start of the second round, passing his Academy mate Jak Crawford on the straight after starting from fourth place.
From that moment on, it was a Japanese solo, even if there were moments of tension, because the race proved to be tight up to the last meters. The young Japanese talent managed the pace well, first resisting Jehan Daruvala’s attack and then Victor Martins’ comeback thanks to a small safety margin.
Despite the attempts of the Indian and the French, Iwasa kept his composure and the lead of the race, crossing the finish line with about seven tenths of a second ahead of the young Alpine Academy standard bearer.
Ayumu Iwasa, Dams
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
Martins showed off a good performance aboard the ART, finishing second under the checkered flag after lining up on the tenth spot of the starting grid for the grid inversion after the pole conquered on Friday. Many overtakings, some of which were well prepared, such as the one that allowed him to overtake Daruvala with three laps to go, taking advantage of the duel between the leading duo.
Solid fourth place for Ralph Boschung, fast even if not like in Bahrain. Behind him a good Maini in front of Frederick Vesti, who started from the ninth box after a penalty remedied in the opening stage of the season. Doohan and Hauger also in the points, who reached eighth place, while Crawford collapsed in the last few laps after suffering a crisis with the tyres.
Victor Martins, ART Grand Prix
Photo by: Formula Motorsport Ltd
A bitter first day, however, for Oliver Bearman and Theo Pourchaire, both out on lap seven after a rash attack by the transalpine. In an attempt to continue his comeback and overtake Martins, in fact, the young talent from the Academy Sauber had come wide at the corner of turn one, hitting the innocent Prema driver.
Sprint race also unlucky for Zane Maloney, who spun at the start of the second lap after losing his car on the outside and dirty part of the track while dueling for position with Novalak.
Feature race: Win Dress up with a waiting race
Race two and second victory. As in the sprint race, the feature race also gave Frederick Vesti his second personal success in the category, thus becoming the fourth winner in four races this season.
The Mercedes protégé driver exploited a combination of a well-organized strategy by his team and the mistakes of his rivals to move up the standings from sixth position and take the stage triumph by five seconds.
It was Victor Martins who lined up on pole, with the clear objective of improving his second place in Saturday’s sprint race. A great opportunity which, however, the Frenchman was unable to exploit, partly due to a bad start which immediately saw him lose the lead of the race to Oliver Bearman, partly due to the spin which put him out of the running towards the middle of the race .
Jack Doohan, Invicta Virtuosi Racing, 2nd position, Prema Racing team representative, Frederik Vesti, Prema Racing, 1st position, and Jehan Daruvala, MP Motorsport, 3rd position, on the podium
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
The race was neutralized on the second lap, after Amaury Cordeel had Brad Benavides under braking at the first corner, forcing the PHM rider to pull over on the escape route. The race resumed, Martins and Bearman were involved in a good duel, even after the pit stop, giving Vesti the opportunity to get close and overtake the junior Ferrari driver.
By being patient and taking advantage of the mistakes of his rivals, the Prema standard-bearer then found himself “virtually” leading the standings, then actually recovered when those who had opted for the alternative strategy were forced to stop in the final laps.
Vesti managed with serenity crossing the line 3.9 seconds ahead of Jack Doohan, who took his first podium in the championship, while Jehan Daruvala took his second third place of the weekend for MP Motorsport, repeating the result of the sprint race.
Iwasa finished in fourth position, with Dennis Hauger in fifth in the other MP Motorsport just three cents behind the Japanese. Verschoor finished sixth, Fittipaldi seventh, while Leclerc finished eighth after several overtakes in the final stages, taking advantage of the new tire fitted during the pit stop scheduled for an alternative strategy. Behind him Hadjar.
Oliver Bearman, Prema Racing Victor Martins, ART Grand Prix
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
A weekend to forget, however, for Oliver Bearman. After the accident in the sprint race, in which he was innocently hit by Pourchaire, in the feature race the Briton was able to take the lead at the start, however he was then subjected to pressure from Martins and Vesti until he spun in turn 22. An episode that had an impact on the tires and, at that point, Bearman without weapons to defend himself then slipped to tenth position, the last valid to win a point.
The 2022 runner-up, Theo Pourchaire, who was handed a five-place grid penalty right after contact with the Prema rider on Saturday, had therefore lined up on the eighth box, but was reluctantly the author of a opaque test, finishing in thirteenth place.
Raphael Boschung is also out of the points, who, however, thanks to the fourth place in the sprint race, gained the lead of the championship standings, overtaking the French of ART by just one point.
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