The 2 races in Formula 2 saw drama, conteroversy, safety cars and good, hard, fair racing across many of the young drivers hoping to make a step up to F1.
Lap 1-Crawford lead from Iwasa and Boschung. Doohan goes off the track as Bearman gets up a place. Iwasa took the lead on lap 2 into turn 1. Zane Maloney lost the rear after coming out of turn 2 and that brought out the safety car. Boshchung and Crawford fought after the restart. Theo Pourchaire went for a lunge which paid off as he made up a place.
Theo Pourchaire made the same lunge on lap 7 but he misjudged it and collided with the Prema rookie of Ollie Bearman and that brought both of their races to an end. Pourchaire was given a 5 place grid drop for that collision. Iwasa lead them into turn 10 and Martins made up a place as the sprint race ended up at 50% distance. Lap 11 saw 3 wide into turn 1 between Doohan, Maini and Crawford. Daruvala went for a lunge into turn 1 against boschung in on lap 13 and went up into the podium places.
Martins got a big tow into turn 1 and went for a lunge and made it stick against Boschung. Daruvala went for the lead of the race on lap 17 but as he went for it into turn 2, Martins took 2nd place from Daruvala. Iwasa took the Sprint Race Victory with Martins finishing P2 and Daruvala P3.
The Feature Race in F2 at the Jeddah Corniche Street Circuit saw Bearman overtake Martins from lights out and into turn 1. Martins was P2 and Doohan P3. Haugher battled with Leclerc as lap 1 went on. Benevides brought out the virtual safety car after Amaury Cordeel collided with him. It was a 7 car battle going into turn 1 on lap 6 of the race There was no collisions. Bearman and Martins came into the pits at the same time but all maintained positions. Bearman and Martins battled into turn 1 on lap 10 for the race lead after all pit stops occurred. Martins tried again on lap 11 after Martins got DRS but Vesti managed to catch up with his teammate and get him. Bearman had a spin on lap 16 which saw him drop down to 11th place. Vesti and Martins battled into turn 1 on lap 17 and Martins spun on lap 17 which brought out the virtual safety car even though he kept the car running but then engine eventually cut out. Hadjar was battling Bearman for the P9. Vesti managed to win the Feature Race with Doohan in P2 and Daruvala in P3.
Featured Image courtesy of Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As the Formula 1 paddock descends on Bahrain’s International Circuit for the opening Grand Prix of the season, Formula 3 is also getting ready to launch its 2022 championship with a fresh format, plenty of new drivers and a title fight that’s anyone’s guess.
The title fight is the minimum for Trident and Prema
Since the FIA F3 championship began in 2019, two teams and their drivers have dominated proceedings – Prema and Trident. The two Italian teams have claimed every drivers’ and teams’ title between them, and ended last season with their two lead drivers – Dennis Hauger and Jack Doohan respectively – far ahead of the rest of the field in the championship standings.
With that record it’s a safe bet to assume those two teams will again be favourites this year, and they certainly have the driver talent to back that up.
Of the two Prema perhaps has the most instantly standout stable. Arthur Leclerc returns for a second season with the team, and although he had a lacklustre debut in 2021 he does come to this year off the back of a pretty dominant Formula Regional Asian title, also with Prema. He’s joined by another sophomore driver in Red Bull junior Jak Crawford, who finished on the podium with Hitech during his debut year and showed impressive pace along the way.
The final member of the Prema lineup is Oliver Bearman – Ferrari junior, and winner of the 2021 ADAC and Italian F4 championships. Although he’s going up against experienced teammates, Bearman’s recent titles and rise through the junior ranks mean he’ll be as much in the title hunt as anyone.
As for Trident, their lineup boasts a similar blend of experienced drivers and rookies. In the #1 car is Red Bull junior Jonny Edgar, who had a solid debut year in 2021 with Carlin, while Roman Stanek joins the team for his third season in F3.
Their teammate is rookie Zane Maloney, who comes with a British F4 title and race wins in Formula Regional European behind him. As one of the fastest drivers in pre-season testing in Bahrain, Maloney will certainly be a rookie to keep an eye on at the front of the field.
Can anyone take the fight to the top teams?
Of course, Trident and Prema don’t have an exclusive hold over the title fight. They may have been top of the table in every F3 season so far, but there are eight other teams on the grid, with plenty of formidable talent spread throughout the field.
One name that jumps out is the newly-signed Red Bull junior Isack Hadjar. The Frenchman comes to F3 having finished fifth in Formula Regional European and third in Formula Regional Asian, but more importantly he topped two of the three days of pre-season testing. Hitech may have finished down the order last year, but it wasn’t that long ago they were winning races with Liam Lawson and Juri Vips at the helm.
Speaking of Formula Regional European, the reigning champion Gregoire Saucy will make his debut this year with ART. Saucy also showed strong pace in pre-season testing and can surely be expected to be in the fight for poles, podiums and race wins in his debut year.
However, Saucy will have to come out swinging at ART to avoid being overshadowed by the team’s new signing Victor Martins. In his debut with MP Motorsport last year Martins was by far the field’s standout rookie, taking a win and five podiums and finishing fifth in the championship.
Although ART haven’t been able to challenge for the title in the FIA F3 era, with a driver like Martins in the car that could change this year.
Further down the grid Zak O’Sullivan leads an all-rookie lineup at Carlin. O’Sullivan’s short racing CV already includes last year’s GB3 title, the runner-up spot in British F4 and Ginetta Juniors and the Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Award, all of which has earned him a place in the Williams F1 Driver Academy.
With Carlin he’s unlikely to be in the title hunt, but given his calibre it would not be surprising to see him on the podium or even end Carlin’s hunt for a first win in FIA F3.
A new format for 2022
Last of all, F3 will see a revised format for this year. After running separately to Formula 2 last year, both feeder series’ are back on the same billing and each with one sprint race and one feature race instead of three races across the weekend.
F3’s sprint race will take place on Saturday and the feature race will be on Sunday before the Bahrain Grand Prix. The grid for both races will be set by qualifying on Friday, with the feature race decided by the full qualifying results and the sprint race by reversing the top 12.
The points on offer for pole position and the fastest lap have been halved to two and one point respectively. Points for the sprint race have also been reduced with the winner taking 10 points instead of 15, and the remainder of the top 10 scoring 9 points for second down to 1 point for 10th place.
The feature race points remain the same as before, meaning the winner will score 25 points following the system used for an F1 Grand Prix.
Formula 3’s first sprint race of the season begins on Saturday at 09:45 and the feature race will start on Sunday at 08:45.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jehan Daruvala took his second win of the year in the first Yas Marina sprint race after a race-long battle with Felipe Drugovich, while Oscar Piastri sealed the Formula 2 Championship by beating out his teammate Robert Shwartzman on track.
Daruvala started the race from reverse grid pole ahead of his Carlin teammate Dan Ticktum. The polesitter had a clear run down to the first corner as Ticktum was slow off the line and passed by both Drugovich and Liam Lawson. Behind them the two Premas of Shwartzman and Piastri jumped from seventh and tenth to fifth and sixth respectively behind Ticktum.
Ticktum tried to retake third from Lawson on the opening lap but struggled for pace with an apparent car issue. Within two laps he was under pressure from Shwartzman and Piastri, who both passed the Carlin for fourth and fifth on lap 3.
By this point in the weekend Shwartzman was Piastri’s only remaining rival for the title and had to finish in third at the least to keep his title hopes alive. On the following lap after clearing Ticktum he set the fastest lap and started hunting down Lawson for that crucial third.
Shwartzman took the final podium place from Lawson on lap 6, but his rival Piastri was only half a second behind Lawson himself. After taking the fastest lap, Piastri then overtook Lawson for fourth on lap 7.
At the front of the field, Drugovich was told by his UNI-Virtuosi team to clear Daruvala as fast as possible, as the two Premas were closing rapidly on the leading pair. Drugovich closed the gap to within a few tenths, but each time he got close enough to press for first place Daruvala responded with enough pace in the first sector to protect himself throughout the rest of the lap.
On lap 12 Drugovich pressured Daruvala into a mistake as his tyres began to fade, and momentarily got ahead as he dived up the inside of Turn 9. But Daruvala managed to stay side by side with Daruvala as they went down to Turn 12, and by the end of the corner Daruvala was back out in front.
As Daruvala and Drugovich battled for the lead, Shwartzman and Piastri closed up to within half a second behind them. But instead of pressuring the leaders, the Premas started battling each other as Piastri put the attack on Shwartzman for third.
With three laps to go Shwartzman locked up going into Turn 6 and opened the door for Piastri to take third. Shwartzman tried to fight back around the outside of Turn 9, but Piastri held the inside line and kept ahead.
Daruvala, Drugovich and Piastri took the three podium positions with Shwartzman in fourth. Lawson and Ticktum came home in fifth and sixth, with Theo Pourchaire and Guanyu Zhou taking the final points.