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Bearman bounces back and claims pole in Jeddah

Written by Caitlyn Gordon, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri


Image Credit: Joe Portlock

Formula 2 crossed the border into Saudi Arabia, for its second round of 2024, a week on from Zane Maloney doing the double in Bahrain, after dominating throughout the weekend. The ‘Boy from Barbados’ secured 36 points, successfully beginning his championship hunt. 


Rookies Pepe Martí and Paul Aron both impressed in their opening race weekend, securing podiums, and taking second and third in the standings. 


On the other hand, the favourites for 2024, PREMA started the opening weekend off disastrously, taking only a single point all weekend. It seemed the set-up didn’t quite match the drivers, and whilst they both tried to fight in the points, highly-rated debutant Antonelli took home the final point of the feature race, in tenth.


Following last weekend’s schedule, practice and qualifying take place on Thursday, with the Sprint pencilled in for Friday, followed by the Feature Race on Saturday. 



Practice

Before qualifying took place, a 45-minute practice session got underway, with drivers looking to find the limits of their cars on the fastest street circuit on the calendar. One driver who tested those boundaries was Colapinto, who was running along the wall.


Hauger was the man to beat, securing a 1:43.793, with Kush Maini and Victor Martins finishing out the top three.


Rafael Villagómez brought out the session’s only red flag, the Mexican losing his car due to oversteer and ultimately crashing into the wall. The incident meant that the VAR car would not be repaired in time for qualifying, and he would be starting at the rear of the grid for both races.


Qualifying


Image Credits: Formula 2

With only a couple hours of sunlight left, and track temperatures dropping to prime tyre conditions, 22 drivers all headed out on track for the 30-minute session.


Hauger was the first driver to put a fastest time on the board, with a 1:43.823, however, the timing screens were lighting up purple just behind, as Bearman had set the fastest middle sector. The PREMA crossed the line first, edging out Hauger’s time by six hundredths of a second. 


Colapinto had to abandon his flying lap in the first sector, having damaged his suspension after touching the wall at turn 17, and sustaining issues. The Argentine racer promptly returned to the pits, with the team getting to work on the rear suspension, and soon sending the MP Motorsport car back out to the grid.


As the first sets of flying laps were complete, Hauger, Bearman and Aron were the drivers holding onto the top three. The boy from Barbados, meanwhile, was having a polar opposite start to his time at Bahrain. The Rodin driver seemed to struggle to better his time in any sectors, wounding up in 14th. 



The final flying laps

The final ten minutes saw the grid shoot back out for their final couple of tries at pole. Roman Stanek was the first to attempt a lap, bettering Hauger’s top time already and soaring to the top of the leaderboard. Though that wasn’t for long, as the rest of the pack began throwing in many times, which saw Stanek drop down to 12th.


Bearman was once again flying around the track, setting the fastest sectors one and two, and putting an impressive 1:42.217 on the board edging out Hauger’s time. 


The yellow Invicta Racing car of Kush Maini was ploughing through the field as well, crossing just two hundredths of a second behind Bearman.


The final minute on the clock saw Maini give it one last chance to try to grab pole out of Bearman’s hands. 


He went rapidly around the circuit, putting in personal bests at every corner. However, it wasn’t enough, and he will start second, having wound up only 0.025 behind Bearman.


Jak Crawford rounded out the top three, and will once again start at the front of the pack. Paul Aron qualified tenth, securing reverse pole position for tomorrow’s sprint.


A disastrous start for Maloney sees the Rodin racer start both races in 16th, after having to pull to the side of the track near the end of the session.


The top 10 from today’s qualifying


1 - Oliver Bearman

2 - Kush Maini

3 - Jak Crawford

4 - Victor Martins

5 - Enzo Fittipaldi

6 - Andrea Kimi Antonelli

7 - Dennis Hauger

8 - Isack Hadjar

9 - Richard Verschoor

10 - Paul Aron


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