Round 2 WorldSBK Assen, Netherlands, Race 2

The Superpole race saw Rea (Kawasaki KRT) claim his 2nd win of the weekend, followed by Bautista (aruba.it Ducati)* (who would go on to be penalised a position due to exceeding the track limits), and Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) who crossed in 3rd. The final position saw Toprak moved up into 2nd, with Bautista in 3rd.

Race 2 saw conditions match those of yesterday. Would Rea be able to claim a clean sweep of wins this weekend?

WSBK Assen 23.04.2022 Razgatlioglu and Locatelli Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha

Lights out and it was Razgatlioglu with the hole shot, followed closely by his team mate Locatelli, who in turn had Bautista, Lecuona (Honda HRC) and Rea in close pursuit. A bad day for GRT Yamaha who lose both of their riders. First Nozane continued his poor form by crashing into turn 1, and then Gerloff ran into the back of Rea. Rea managed to keep the bike upright, but Gerloff’s race was over.

Next lap and it was the turn of Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) to go down, this time in turn 8. Meanwhile Rea not letting the earlier incident upset his rhythm, moved past Lecuona into 4th. It was Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) in 8th who set the fastest lap of 1:34.093 however, and was looking quick.

With 18 laps to go, Rea continued to gain positions, this time moving past Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) into 3rd, and then past Bautista into 2nd. Toprak was still out in the lead, and it looked like it would be a repeat of race 1, with this trio clearing off into the distance.

WSBK Assen 23.04.2022 Lowes Picture courtesy of KRT Kawasaki

With 16 laps remaining huge drama unfolded, as Toprak and Rea collided into turn 2, with both of them hitting the deck, putting an end to their race. Bautista narrowly avoided getting caught up in the crash, and now found himself the new race leader. Positions were now as follows: 1. Bautista 2. Lecuona (Honda HRC) 3. Bassani 4. Locatelli 5. Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati) 6. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT) 7. Redding (BMW Motorrad) and 8. Vierge (Honda HRC).

The two former MotoGP riders, Bautista and Lecuona, were now battling each other out for the race win. Could Lecuona claim his first WorldSBK podium?

With 13 laps to go, Bassani continued to show impressive pace, and had now moved up to 4th, with Lowes behind in 5th. Redding too was having a better race, and was now up to 6th. Rinaldi lost places, and was now in 7th.

With 11 laps remaining, Bautista had pulled the trigger, and had extended his gap over Lecuona to 2.8s. Meanwhile behind, Redding was looking to make a move on Lowes for 5th. Vd Mark, the local Dutch rider, was having a decent race moving up to 8th, whilst still recovering from an injury to his ankle.

With 9 laps to go, Bautista was showing no signs of weakness, and had increased the gap to 4.4s over Lecuona. The Honda rider himself held a gap of 0.4 to Locatelli behind in 3rd. Positions were as follows; 1. Bautista 2. Lecuona 3. Locatelli 4. Bassani 5. Lowes and 6. Redding.

WSBK Assen 23.04.2022 Podium Bautista, Lecuona and Locatelli Picture courtesy of Honda HRC

On lap 14 of 21, Redding made his move on both Bassani and Lowes, moving up into 4th. The BMW was certainly working much better for Redding this weekend, and he was showing his raw pace of last season. Meanwhile further back a 3 way battle had now developed between Vd Mark, Vierge (Honda HRC) and Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing).

With 5 laps to go, Lecuona was holding firm in 2nd, and still held a gap of 0.2s to Locatelli who looked like he had extra grip, and was lining up a pass on the Spaniard.

Next lap and Locatelli makes the move on Lecuona going into 2nd. Meanwhile, Bautista was away and no doubt had the win in the bag, with a gap of nearly 10s. Further back, both Lowes and Bassani had fought their way back to Redding, and there was now a 3 way fight for 4th.

WSBK Assen 23.04.2022 Locatelli Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha

Last lap and Bautista crosses the line to claim the win, followed by Locatelli and Lecuona. Lowes and Bassani both got past Redding, followed by Rinaldi in 7th, Vd Mark in 8th, Vierge 9th and Mahias rounding out the top 10. *Bassani would go on to be penalised for exceeding track limits, and conceded his position to Redding who claims 5th.

Result top 5:

  1. Bautista (aruba.it Ducati)
  2. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)
  3. Lecuona (Honda HRC)
  4. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT)
  5. Redding (BMW Motorrad)

Out: Rea (Kawasaki KRT), Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), Baz (Bonovo Action BMW), Oetll (GoEleven Ducati).

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista 109 pts
  2. Rea 91
  3. Razgatlioglu 64

 

Round 2 WorldSBK Assen, Netherlands, Race 1

Superpole went to the reigning world champion, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), with a fastest ever lap record of 1:32.934.

Jonathan Rea WSBK 23.04.2022 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki KRT

Conditions for race 1 were close to ideal, with the track temperature around 30 degrees celsius and dry. All the riders opted for the softer SCX tyre option, except Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) who went with the harder option. Eugene Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW) was still nursing an injured right forearm, and was subsequently declared unfit to race.

Lights out and it’s Toprak with the hole shot into turn 1 followed by his Yamaha team mate Locatelli, who in turn was followed by the Kawasaki team mates of Rea and Lowes. They in turn who were followed by the Ducati team mates of Bautista and Rinaldi.

Onto the next lap and Rea, showing good early pace, moved up past Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) to take over 2nd place. Positions were as follows: 1. Razgatlioglu; 2. Rea; 3. Locatelli; 4. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT); 5. Bautista (aruba.it Ducati) and 6. Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati). Rea was keen to keep the race pace high, and break up this group of dangerous riders, and had already pulled out a gap of 0.5s to Locatelli in 3rd.

With 18 laps to go Rea passes Razgatlioglu down the straight, however Toprak fought back to stay with him. Further back it was 7th Lecuona (Honda HRC), followed by 8th Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati), 9th Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) and 10th Gerloff who was struggling with the hard tyre, and subsequently losing places.

With 16 laps to go, the leading group of 6 riders had distanced the rest. Rea still out front, now held a gap of 0.2s to Toprak behind in 2nd. Redding (BMW Motorrad) was having a better time of it, and had moved up to 10th, getting past the Texan, who was struggling with his grip levels.

Razgatlioglu : WSBK 23.04.2022 Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha

With 14 laps remaining, the lead group was reduced down to 5, with Rinaldi now losing contact with those ahead of him. Meanwhile his team mate set a new fastest lap of 1:35.246, and was gaining ground, subsequently moving past Lowes to take 4th. The Ducati was looking quick through the faster sectors, and Bautista was using this advantage to gain time on those ahead.

With 11 laps to go, it was Locatelli next up for the Spaniard Bautista, who made no mistake and passed the Italian into the chicane to take 3rd. Bautista was now 0.7s behind Razgatlioglu and, as Redding had shown last season, the Ducati was capable of late race pace. Lowes retires due to a mechanical issue.

Next lap, and Bautista was now right on Razgatlioglu, the Ducati was running half a second faster than both Rea and Toprak. This trio had already distanced Locatelli who was slipping back, and the win would no doubt be fought out amongst themselves.

With 8 laps to go Toprak out brakes Rea into the chicane, clearly feeling the mounting pressure from Bautista behind, and wants to get away. Meanwhile further back Redding was now up to 9th, Gerloff was in 11th and Lecuona was having a decent race in a lonely 6th. Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) was having another difficult race, and found himself in 19th.

With 6 laps remaining, Rea repays the favour and out brakes Toprak into turn 1. Bautista sensing an opportunity also passes Toprak. The Turkish rider now finding himself in 3rd. It was clear to see how the Ducati was gaining time on the Kawasaki through the fast sectors. Next up it was the turn of Rinaldi to suffer a mechanical and subsequently retire.

Lap 17 of 21, and Bautista was now right on the back of Rea. Meanwhile Razgatlioglu was hanging onto 3rd, but didn’t seem to have the pace of the two ahead of him. Bautista makes a move on Rea, but the Irishman is able to snap straight back re-taking the lead around the outside.

With 3 laps to go, Rea had now put the hammer down, and had increased his lead to 0.4s, surely knowing the Ducati would close the gap through the fast sectors. Razgatlioglu looked too far behind, and was out of contention for the race win, it would come down to Rea v Bautista.

Lecuona : WSBK 23.04.2022 Picture courtesy of Honda HRC

Last lap then, and Rea was still hanging onto a decent lead. The Spaniard again closed the gap through the faster sectors, but it wouldn’t be enough and Rea crossed the line to take the win, followed by Bautista and Toprak. Positions were as follows: 1. Rea, 2. Bautista, 3. Razgatlioglu, 4. Locatelli, 5. Lecuona, 6. Baz, 7. Oettl (GoEleven Ducati), 8. Gerloff and 9. Redding.

Result top 5:

  1. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  2. Baustista (aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  4. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)
  5. Lecuona (Honda HRC)

Top 3 championship:

  1. Bautista 57 pts
  2. Rea 54
  3. Razgatlioglu 39

Round 1 WorldSBK Aragon, Spain, Race 2

The first Superpole race of the new season saw Bautista (aruba.it Ducati) exact revenge for getting pipped in race 1 and claim the win, followed by 2nd Rea (Kawasaki KRT), and 3rd Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha).

Alvaro Bautista & Michael Rinaldi – WorldSBK Aragon 10.04.2022 Picture courtesy of Aruba.it Racing

The track temperature was slightly higher for race 2, compared to race 1, with most of the riders again opting for the softer tyre option. Lights out, and its Rea with the hole shot into turn 1, pursued by the Ducati team mates of Bautista and Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati, with Razgatlioglu closely behind in 4th. This group of 4 was already gaining an advantage on the rest of the field, pulling out a slight gap.

With 16 laps to go, the two aruba.it Ducatis were looking quick and Rea was going to have his hands full shortly in trying to keep them at bay. Positions were: 1st Rea, 2nd Bautista, 3rd Rinaldi, 4th, Razgatlioglu and 5th Lowes (Kawasaki KRT).

Next lap and with Rea feeling the pressure from the Ducatis behind, makes a mistake by running too hot into turn 1, allowing both Bautista and Rinaldi through. Rea now anxious to get back to the front, had to first deal with the immediate problem of getting past the reigning world champion in 3rd. Further back there was a four way battle for 7th between the Honda team mates of Lecuona (Honda HRC), Vierge, Loris Baz (Bonovo action BMW) and Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorlsSBK Team).

With 13 laps to go Rea manages to out break Toprak into turn 1 taking back 3rd. Meanwhile the two Ducatis at the front were looking quick, most notably Bautista who was pulling away. Would the Spaniard be able to claim his 2nd win of the day? Further back Redding (BMW Motorrad) was still having a miserable weekend, and now found himself dead last in 23rd place. Seemingly unable to get the BMW into corners. What is happening in that garage?

With 11 laps to go Rea had the head down and was desperate to regain contact with the Ducatis at the front, both of whom were having a cracking race. Behind Rea it was; 4th Razgatlioglu, 5th Lowes, 6th Baz, 7th Lecuona, 8th Vierge and 9th Gerloff.

Next lap and Rea had now closed the gap to 2nd place Rinaldi to 0.8s. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) was having an incredible race and had now moved all the way up to 6th. Meanwhile further back both Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team, and Laverty (Bonovo action BMW) were struggling, and found themselves in 14th and 15th respectively.

With 8 laps to go the increasing pressure on Rinaldi told, and he was forced into a mistake running wide into turn 1, allowing Rea to come past for an easy 2nd place. Rea was now running 0.3s a lap faster than Bautista at the front, but would he have enough laps left to catch the Spaniard?

Next lap and with Rea pushing as hard as he dared, he over shot turn 1, running wide and losing precious time. The gap to Bautista was now pushed out to 1.8s with more work left for Rea. Meanwhile Redding retired, giving up on a shockingly dreadful weekend.

With 6 laps to go it was Rinaldi in 3rd who now set the fastest lap of 1:51.377, although the race pace was faster yesterday, even although the track temperature was colder. Further back Gerloff in 10th, was all over the back of Vierge in 9th, and looking for the pass.

With 5 laps to go Razgatlioglu had found a bit of late race pace, and was closing in on 3rd place Rinaldi cutting the gap down to 0.3s. Could the Turkish rider claim a podium postion? Nozane had a nasty crash into turn 7, sending his Yamaha down the road in a shower of sparks. He was able to walk away, but his race was over.

WorldSBK Aragon 10.04.2022 Picture courtesy of Honda Racing Corporation

Next lap and Toprak set the new fastest lap of 1:51.177, quicker than both the riders ahead of him. Bautista looked to have the win sealed up and was comfortable in the lead, with Rea too far behind to cause any trouble. Second and 3rd were all still to play for however.

With 3 laps to go Razgatlioglu out brakes Rinaldi into turn 2, and takes 3rd. Meanwhile Rea was far enough ahead in 2nd to be comfortable, without having to look over his shoulder.

Last lap and Bautista crosses the line in 1st to take his 2nd win of the day, putting himself at the top of the championship in the process. Second Rea, 3rd Razgatlioglu, 4th Rinaldi, 5th Lowes, 6th Bassani, 7th Baz, 8th Vierge, 9th Gerloff, 10th Lecuona.

Result top 5:

  1. Bautista (aruba.it Ducati)
  2. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  3. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  4. Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati)
  5. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista 57 pts
  2. Rea 54
  3. Razgatlioglu 39

 

 

F2 Jeddah preview: experience leads the way into Round 2

After an action-packed season opener in Bahrain last week, Formula 2 is back again this weekend for Round 2 of the championship at Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

After last weekend’s races it’s experience that leads the way heading to Jeddah. Richard Verschoor and Theo Pourchaire took the two victories in Bahrain, and the remaining podium places were claimed by Jehan Daruvala, Liam Lawson and Juri Vips. In the championship picture it’s Pourchaire who leads the standings ahead of Lawson and Vips, with Ralph Boschung in fourth place.

The only “true” rookie to score in Bahrain was Ayumu Iwasa, who finished eighth in the sprint race despite starting from the very back of the field after an error in qualifying. However Logan Sargeant, Jake Hughes and Jack Doohan – who all made a handful of F2 starts at the end of last year – managed to score as well, with Doohan even taking pole for the feature race.

Ayumu Iwasa, DAMS (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)

With a Formula 2 weekend now under their belts and no long break in between, those rookies will be coming to Jeddah looking to take the fight to the more experienced drivers on the grid. For drivers like Doohan and Iwasa that will mean bringing the same rapid speed shown in Bahrain but without the errors and incidents that cost them larger points hauls, while Sargeant’s job will be to unlock the same speed in his Carlin found by teammate Lawson.

The fight at the front is wide open

Although Bahrain was just one round in a long season, the early signs from the weekend are that we can expect plenty of close fights for victory from right across the field.

Pourchaire will come to Jeddah as an obvious favourite for pole and victory, given his position as championship leader. But it’s worth noting the ART driver only leads the standings by a single point, while Lawson’s double Sakhir podium is an impressive marker to lay down at the start of a season.

Felipe Drugovich was another driver who showed pace to watch for last weekend. Seemingly rejuvenated now he’s back at MP Motorsport, the Brazilian looked like he was going to take pole position until Doohan pipped him to it. His new teammate Clement Novalak was also very fast in practice last week, even if that wasn’t converted to points, so expect to see MP Motorsport near the front again in Jeddah.

Felipe Drugovich, MP Motorsport (Clive Mason, Getty Images / FIA F2)

And if Bahrain pace is anything to go by, keep an eye out for Boschung at Campos this weekend. The Swiss driver took a pair of fourth places in Sakhir after fighting with the frontrunners, but more than that he’s also returning to the site of one of his two podium finishes from last year. Boschung has always run well at street circuits and seems to be bedded in with Campos enough to bring out another great result this year.

Hauger needs a result after a tough first round

One driver who will be hoping to be in the fight at the front this weekend is Prema’s Dennis Hauger. After being tipped as a championship favourite for this year, Hauger opened the season just outside the points in Bahrain’s sprint race, then retired in the pits after being released with only three tyres attached in the feature race.

There’s nothing Hauger can do to avoid a repeat of that pitstop incident. But as for not missing out on points in the race, the key right now will be improving his qualifying. Hauger qualified in 15th in Bahrain and nearly a full second off of Doohan’s pole time, which meant he couldn’t benefit from the sprint race’s reversed top 8 and had to fight hard just to get into contention.

Getting on top of that this weekend will be difficult, as the Jeddah street circuit is completely new to Hauger but known from last year to key rivals like Pourchaire, Lawson and Vips. But Hauger also took nearly half of the available pole positions in his Formula 3 campaign last year, so if he can get to grips with the track early on there’s no reason he can’t be fighting at the front on Friday’s qualifying session.

Dennis Hauger, Prema (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)

F2 Bahrain: Pourchaire takes victory in a race of pit stop errors

ART’s Theo Pourchaire won the first feature race of the Formula 2 season in Bahrain, in a race that was turned on its head several times by disastrous pit stops.

Pourchaire started the race from second place alongside polesitter Jack Doohan, but both drivers had major wheelspin off the line as they struggled to fire up their hard tyres. As Doohan and Pourchaire were slow away, Juri Vips and Ralph Boschung shot through into first and second by Turn 1, while Liam Lawson jumped Pourchaire for fourth place.

The racing only lasted for a few corners before Frederik Vesti’s ART spun out of the race and the safety car was deployed. At the end of the first lap Vips led from Boschung, Doohan, Lawson and Pourchaire, while Calan Williams, Marcus Armstrong and Richard Verschoor had all managed to leap into the top 10 with their faster soft tyres at the start.

When the safety car came in at the end of lap 4 Vips kept the lead but Doohan took second place away from Boschung. The Swiss driver tried to retake the position coming out of Turn 1 but that only opened the door for Pourchaire to sneak past for third. Boschung then came under attack from Lawson, who moved up into fourth at the start of lap 6.

Liam Lawson, Carlin (Bryn Lennon, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA F2)

At the front of the field Vips spent the opening laps building a healthy gap over Doohan and Pourchaire. By lap 6 he was already two seconds clear, which then became six seconds by the time he came in for his pit stop on lap 13. But in the pits a stuck wheel nut wiped his advantage out completely, and when Vips rejoined the track with soft tyres he was not only behind Doohan and Pourchaire but also Lawson and Boschung.

Doohan made his own stop a lap after Vips. While his change to soft tyres was problem-free, he ended up exiting the pits alongside Pourchaire who had made up time by stopping a lap earlier. As they came through Turn 1 the two cars made contact, which left Doohan with a broken front wing and needing to stop a second time for repairs.

After all the pit stops had shaken out on lap 19, Pourchaire led from Felipe Drugovich, who had made an aggressive early stop for softs on lap 9. Lawson was running third ahead of Boschung and Vips, and Doohan was at the back of the field following his second stop for a new front wing.

As the race entered its final 10 laps, Drugovich’s early stop strategy began to hurt him as his soft tyres started to fade. Lawson passed him for second on lap 22 and Vips – who had set the fastest lap after clearing Boschung’s Campos – followed through for third shortly after. Drugovich then fell back behind Boschung and Armstrong as well.

Juri Vips, Hitech (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)

At the front Pourchaire still had two seconds in hand over Lawson and Vips, and the gap remained steady for several laps. But on lap 27 Richard Verschoor was spun around at Turn 1 by Roy Nissany as they battled just outside the points and the safety car was deployed once again.

That triggered a flurry of pit stops for drivers at the tail end of the points, including Calan Williams, Dennis Hauger and Jehan Daruvala. But in the flurry to get everyone back out on track, both Hauger and Williams were released without their front left tyres properly attached, and Williams ended up blocking the pitlane as his car partially spun when the wheel came off. As a result the cars in the pitlane had to weave around the Trident to rejoin the track, while the pit entry was closed to everyone else.

The race was eventually restarted on lap 31, but with the time allocation for the race exceeded that became the final lap. Pourchaire bolted early out of the final corner to get clear of Lawson going down to Turn 1, and Lawson’s spent soft tyres meant he was unable to challenge for the lead. The top three remained the same across the line, with Pourchaire winning ahead of Lawson and Vips.

Theo Pourchaire, ART (Joe Portlock, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA F2)

Boschung came home in fourth place, matching his result from yesterday’s sprint race, ahead of Armstrong and Drugovich in fifth and sixth. Logan Sargeant finished seventh, and Nissany, Jake Hughes and Doohan rounded out the points.

After the feature race Pourchaire leads the championship with 25 points, with Lawson second on 24 and Vips third on 18. The teams’ championship however is led by Lawson’s Carlin team on 33 points, five ahead of Hitech.

F3 Bahrain: Martins sweeps to victory as Leclerc charges through the field

Victor Martins took victory in the first Formula 3 feature race of the year in Bahrain, while Prema’s Arthur Leclerc stormed through the field from well outside the points to finish on the podium.

The race began with Franco Colapinto and Van Amersfoort on a debut pole, with Roman Stanek alongside for Trident and Martins in third. The top three held position at lights out, but Leclerc made up five places at the launch to go from thirteenth to eighth.

Behind the top three however, the first corner quickly became chaotic as Zane Maloney in fourth suddenly lost drive and became an obstacle for the chasing pack. Oliver Bearman and Caio Collet were two of the drivers who had to run wide to avoid the Trident, and when Collet rejoined the track he broke his right front suspension and was forced to retire. Francesco Pizzi was also caught up in the incident and retired as well.

The safety car was deployed while the stricken cars at Turn 1 were recovered. When the race got underway again on lap 5 Colapinto went weaving down the main straight to break the tow for Stanek behind. But instead of challenging for the lead Stanek found himself under attack from Martins, who stole past the Trident into second at the first corner.

Franco Colapinto, Van Amersfoort (Dan Istitene, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA F3)

Stanek then had to defend again from Alex Smolyar in fourth. As Stanek ran Smolyar to the edge of the track to hold third place, Smolyar made contact with Stanek’s rear right tyre and triggered a puncture for the Trident.

With Smolyar dropping to the back of the field, Leclerc moved up to seventh place. That then became fifth on lap 7 as he despatched first Isack Hadjar and then David Vidales. Leclerc soon found himself on the rear of the podium battle as Smolyar was passed for third by Juan Manuel Correa. On lap 10 Leclerc picked off Smolyar for fourth, then a lap later he passed Correa as well to move up into third place.

Smolyar continued to come under pressure from the cars behind. But when Hadjar made a move on him for fifth place they made contact similar to Smolyar’s incident with Stanek, and Hadjar also came off with a rear right puncture that dropped him out of the points.

Meanwhile at the front of the field, Martins was shadowing Colapinto with only half a second between the two. By lap 14 Martins brought that down to two tenths, but had to wait until the start of the following lap to make a move. After first trying the outside of Turn 1, Martins took advantage of Colapinto running deep into the following corner to cut back through and take the lead down to Turn 4.

Arthur Leclerc, Prema (Clive Mason, Getty Images / FIA F3)

By the time Martins assumed the lead, Leclerc had managed to slash his five-second gap to the front and was running just half a second behind Colapinto. On lap 18 Leclerc then made a late dive on the brakes to the inside of Turn 1, and snatched second place away from the Van Amersfoort.

Colapinto’s race began to unfold in the final stages after that. With Gregoire Saucy pressuring him for third place and his tyres seeming to fall away from him, Colapinto picked up several warnings for exceeding track limits which eventually became a five-second time penalty. Colapinto was able to hold off Saucy on the road, but the penalty dropped him down to fifth and moved Saucy up to third to complete the podium.

Correa followed Saucy home to make it three ARTs in the top four, and Leclerc’s Prema teammates Bearman and Jak Crawford finished sixth and seventh behind Colapinto. Smolyar was in the points until the very end of the race when floor damage dropped him down the field, meaning that Vidales, William Alatalo and Kaylen Frederick rounded out the final points positions.

(Dan Istitene. Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA F3)

The results of the feature race mean Martins leads the championship after Round 1 with 25 points, with Arthur Leclerc a point behind in second and Oliver Bearman in third on 17 points. ART lead the teams’ standings with 54 points, followed by Prema on 47.

Formula 3 returns on 22–24th April at Imola in support of the Formula 1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

F2 Bahrain: Verschoor takes controlled victory in opening sprint race

Trident’s Richard Verschoor took the first win of the Formula 2 season in the Bahrain sprint race, after pouncing on the lead early on and controlling the race from then on.

Verschoor started from second place on the reverse grid, alongside polesitter Felipe Drugovich. But when the lights went out Drugovich was bogged down off the line and Verschoor immediately assumed the lead heading down to Turn 1, while Jehan Daruvala and Ralph Boschung filtered into second and third.

Drugovich slipped back into the midfield pack as he recovered from his slow start, eventually stabilising in sixth place behind Liam Lawson in fourth and Jake Hughes in fifth. At the start of the second lap Drugovich passed Hughes for fifth place. Their battle down to Turn 1 opened the door for Theo Pourchaire, Jack Doohan and Juri Vips, who all passed Hughes over the course of the lap to demote the Van Amersfoort driver down to eighth.

Felipe Drugovich, MP Motorsport (Clive Mason, Getty Images / FIA F2)

Hughes’ struggles then continued as he tried to fight back but ended up making contact with Marcus Armstrong and spinning the Hitech around. That brought out the safety car as Armstrong was unable to get going again.

Behind the safety car Drugovich, who had fallen behind Pourchaire, reported that Pourchaire’s car was dropping oil on the track. At the restart on lap 6 Pourchaire then fell down through the order with a mechanical failure and was forced to retire. Meanwhile Lawson darted to the inside of Daruvala at Turn 1, but Daruvala was able to hold off the Carlin to keep third place.

After fending off Lawson, Daruvala started to reel in Boschung as the Swiss driver’s tyres fell away from him. On lap 15 the gap between the two was just a few tenths, and Boschung had little grip to defend second place as Daruvala made his move into Turn 1 on the following lap.

Boschung was able to briefly reclaim second place on lap 17 after a virtual safety car period brought on by Hughes stopping on track. But that only lasted a lap until Daruvala was back in front of the Campos, and on lap 21 Lawson demoted Boschung another place as he took third at Turn 1.

Liam Lawson, Carlin (Joe Portlock, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA F2)

As the battle over second, third and fourth unfolded behind him, Verschoor continued unchallenged in the lead. By the time the final lap came around he had a 2.3 second gap over Daruvala, and crossed the line to comfortably take his second victory in F2.

Boschung finished the race in fourth behind Lawson, and ahead of Drugovich in fifth. Logan Sargeant made his way into the points in the closing stages to take sixth place for Carlin, and Vips and Ayumu Iwasa rounded out the points in seventh and eighth.

F3 Bahrain: Hadjar takes opening victory as Bearman penalised across the line

Isack Hadjar took victory for Hitech in the opening Formula 3 race of the season in Bahrain, after initial winner Oliver Bearman was handed a time penalty at the chequered flag.

Bearman started the race in second place behind the Carlin of reverse grid polesitter Zak O’Sullivan. At the race start Bearman went straight for the inside of Turn 1 to try and take the lead, but O’Sullivan managed to cover the Prema off and keep the lead for the opening lap.

Hadjar meanwhile started in fourth place behind David Vidales. After Vidales held Hadjar off into Turn 1, the Hitech driver then had to defend in a tight battle with Alex Smolyar and Zane Maloney early on.

Zane Maloney, Trident (Joe Portlock, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA F3)

Hadjar moved up into the podium positions by passing Vidales at the end of the first lap. But coming onto the main straight, Vidales used the slipstream to pass Hadjar back for third while Maloney followed him through and demoted Hadjar to fifth.

However as the opening stages of the race unfolded, Vidales burned through his tyres quicker than the cars around him and dropped back from the leaders O’Sullivan and Bearman. On lap 3 he fell back to sixth as Maloney, Smolyar and Hadjar all passed the Campos, then eventually fell back into the clutches of Prema’s Arthur Leclerc as well.

As Maloney assumed third place, Bearman began to close on O’Sullivan for the lead. O’Sullivan had enjoyed a comfortable buffer of more than a second over the Prema in the early laps, but Bearman began to wear that down to half a second by lap 4. On lap 5, Bearman then made his move and took first place from the Carlin.

Oliver Bearman, Prema (Courtesy of Prema Racing)

Once in front, Bearman started to pull out a multiple second gap over O’Sullivan by the halfway stage, when O’Sullivan’s tyres began to fall away from him. By this point Hadjar was running in fourth place having despatched Smolyar, and was pursuing Maloney’s Trident for third.

By lap 15 Bearman was more than three seconds clear of O’Sullivan, while Maloney, Hadjar and Smolyar were swarming behind him. Maloney and Hadjar took advantage of O’Sullivan’s failing tyres to bump him off the podium shortly after, before Hadjar’s momentum then carried him past Maloney into second on lap 16.

With only a handful of laps remaining Bearman had a comfortable lead of 3.5 seconds, while Hadjar had lost too much time fighting past Smolyar, Maloney and O’Sullivan to make that up. But as Bearman continued pushing to build his gap even further, his engineer came on the radio to warn him about a string of track limits violations against his name.

Bearman initially crossed the line in first ahead of Hadjar, but while he and his team were celebrating on the radio he was handed a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits too many times. This dropped him to second behind Hadjar, handing Hitech the win.

 

Smolyar completed the podium in third place ahead of Maloney in fourth and Leclerc in fifth, and O’Sullivan came home in sixth in the end. Caio Collet took seventh for MP Motorsport, and Kaylen Frederick, Juan Manuel Correa and Vidales rounded out the final points positions.

F2 Bahrain preview: new faces, new challengers, new format

This weekend the 2022 Formula 2 championship gets underway in Bahrain, with plenty of new drivers and even a new team looking to open the season with a strong result.

The new weekend schedule

Liam Lawson, Carlin (Bryn Lennon, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA F2)

It’s not just the makeup of the grid that’s different this year – the format has also been tweaked for the new season. Last year F2 and Formula 3 ran on separate weekends with three races across Saturday and Sunday, but now they’re back on the same billing and returning to the familiar schedule of one sprint race and one feature race.

It’s not a complete return to the pre-2021 way, however. The sprint race remains on Saturday with the feature race taking place before Sunday’s F1 Bahrain Grand Prix. Qualifying on Friday will set the grid for Sunday’s feature race, while the starting order for Saturday’s sprint race will be decided by reversing the top 10 from qualifying.

The points system has also been tweaked for 2022. The number of points available for pole position and the fastest lap in each race has been halved for this year, meaning pole is now worth two points and the fastest lap is a single point. The points for the sprint race have been adjusted as well – the top eight still score, but victory will now award 10 points with 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 available for the remaining places.

The feature race keeps the same F1 points system as it has always used, with 25 points for the winner down to one point for tenth place.

Will experience lead the way?

Juri Vips, Hitech (Joe Portlock, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA F2)

Heading into a new season of F2, the focus will always be on the returning drivers with experience behind them.

In 2022 only four drivers are still with the same team as last year: Juri Vips (Hitech), Theo Pourchaire (ART), Ralph Boschung (Campos) and Roy Nissany (DAMS). Of those Vips and Pourchaire will be expected to be in the title hunt as both are fighting to impress F1 teams, and both have good working relationships with their teams to build on after their successful debuts.

Liam Lawson is another driver who will be one to watch this season and this weekend in particular. After winning on his debut last year with Hitech, the New Zealand Red Bull junior moves to Carlin who finished third in the teams’ championship last year. As one of the winners from Bahrain last year, he should be a threat for the top spot in Sakhir again.

Another driver who will be interesting to watch after moving teams is Felipe Drugovich. The Brazilian has switched from UNI-Virtuosi to MP Motorsport for his third season, which theoretically would be a drop down the grid.

But it was with MP that Drugovich took three victories (including one in Bahrain) during his debut season in 2020. With a more comfortable environment he may return to fighting at the front of the field again this year.

Felipe Drugovich, MP Motorsport (Joe Portlock, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA F2)

Fresh faces, big impact

As Oscar Piastri showed last season when he won the title at the first attempt, experience isn’t everything in F2 – and there’s a bumper crop of rookies joining the series for 2022 looking to follow in his footsteps.

Reigning champions Prema are no exception. With Piastri leaving the series, Prema have called up Red Bull junior and reigning Formula 3 champion Dennis Hauger to take his seat. Given his and his team’s recent success, Hauger is considered one of the favourites for the title this year.

Hauger won’t be without his competition though. His F3 title rival Jack Doohan is also joining the grid for a full campaign this year with the UNI-Virtuosi team. His team enjoyed recent championship challenges led by Callum Ilott and Guanyu Zhou, while Doohan himself already has some competitive F2 experience under his belt from running in the final two rounds last year. This is definitely a pairing to watch out for.

Jack Doohan, UNI-Virtuosi (Joe Portlock, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA F2)

Further along the grid there are more impressive rookies joining the field. Logan Sargeant, Frederik Vesti and Clement Novalak will race with Carlin, ART and MP Motorsport respectively after earning plenty of plaudits in F3 in recent years. Meanwhile F3 race winners and podium finishers Olli Caldwell, Ayumu Iwasa, Enzo Fittipaldi and Calan Williams will represent Campos, DAMS, Charouz and Trident respectively, and former F1 eSports driver Cem Bolukbasi joins Charouz after a race-winning Euroformula Open campaign last year.

And last but not least, there is a new team on the grid in the form of Van Amersfoort Racing. The Dutch feeder series stalwarts are taking over HWA’s vacant entry, and for their first season will pair experienced F2 and F3 driver Jake Hughes with rookie Amaury Cordeel.

Racing gets underway this weekend with the F2 sprint race on Saturday at 16:40 UTC and the feature race on Sunday at 10:40 UTC.

F2 Abu Dhabi: Piastri rounds out F2 campaign with feature race win

Newly-crowned Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri signed off his time in the series by winning his final feature race from pole position, while the battles for second place in the drivers’ and teams’ standings were settled behind him.

Piastri got away well off the line to hold the lead from MP Motorsport’s Jack Doohan in second. Doohan started the race on the slower medium tyres and so had to immediately go defensive as the supersoft runners Guanyu Zhou and Robert Shwartzman swarmed him from the second row of the grid.

That difference in tyre strategy set up a frantic opening lap as Zhou tried to find a way past Doohan at every opportunity, while their battle helped Liam Lawson join the fray by attacking Shwartzman for fourth. As they headed into Turn 9 both pairs went side by side for position which saw Doohan and Lawson run wide on the outside.

Jack Doohan, MP Motorsport (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)

As they rejoined the track, both drivers then spun on dirty tyres. Lawson managed to keep his car on track albeit down in seventh, but Doohan ended up in the wall and out of the race to bring out a safety car.

When the safety car period ended on lap 5, the race resumed with Piastri leading Zhou and Shwartzman, who were battling over second place in the final standings. Further back Theo Pourchaire was fighting to hold on to fifth position on the medium tyres, with Dan Ticktum on the supersofts behind him.

As the highest driver on the mediums, Pourchaire took the lead of the race on lap 10 when Piastri, Zhou, Shwartzman and Ralph Boschung pitted to swap from the supersofts to fresh mediums. Once the frontrunners who started on supersofts had all stopped, Pourchaire led from Felipe Drugovich and Jehan Daruvala, while net leader Piastri was in P12.

The race then entered a lull as those at front on their starting tyres waited for their own stops to switch to the supersofts. By lap 26 Piastri was leading Zhou and Shwartzman from fifth as those ahead of them had stopped, but Pourchaire and Drugovich had extended their stint and had enough time over Zhou and Shwartzman to emerge in the podium fight once they made their own stops.

Guanyu Zhou, UNI-Virtuosi (Clive Rose, Getty Images / FIA F2)

Pourchaire came in first at the end of lap 27 but a slow stop meant he ended up behind Shwartzman once he rejoined the track. Drugovich came in on the following lap and emerged ahead of Pourchaire, although Pourchaire’s extra lap getting the supersoft tyres up to temperature allowed him to pass the Brazilian on track and retake fourth.

At the end of that lap Pourchaire set the fastest lap time as he continued to close on Shwartzman. But despite his pace he was unable to drop Drugovich, and Drugovich passed Pourchaire again for fourth place on lap 31 with Shwartzman just ahead.

Shwartzman was given a momentary relief at the end of lap 31 when Lawson pulled off the track with a mechanical problem and brought out the virtual safety car. But when that was withdrawn shortly after, Drugovich began lap 32 on Shwartzman’s gearbox and passed him under DRS down to Turn 6. Pourchaire then demoted Shwartzman to fifth on the run to Turn 9.

Theo Pourchaire, ART (Lars Baron, Getty Images / FIA F2)

With one lap to go Drugovich and Pourchaire didn’t have enough time to challenge the remaining positions, and so Piastri took the chequered flag from Zhou with Drugovich taking third over Pourchaire and Shwartzman. Ticktum finished sixth ahead of Marcus Armstrong, Juri Vips, Boschung and Richard Verschoor.

With Zhou and Drugovich on the podium UNI-Virtuosi sealed second place in the teams’ championship over Carlin. But despite Zhou finishing three places higher than Shwartzman in the race, Shwartzman held on to the runner-up spot in the drivers’ standings by nine points.

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