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F2 Feature Race Report: Hadjar takes second feature race victory in a dramatic fashion

Written by Jasmin Low, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri


Formula 2 has returned to Emilia-Romagna after a brief hiatus, and a nearly two-month break from the most recent round of the championship in Melbourne. The 2024 FIA Formula 2 Championship has traversed the globe, and begins its European Leg in Imola. 


The classic track has proven to be a difficult one to master for drivers across all categories, with many finding themselves in the gravel. The sprint race kicked off the Formula 2 weekend in spectacular fashion, with Argentinian Franco Colapinto clinching his maiden victory after a last-lap overtake on Paul Aron


Gabriel Bortoleto started on pole position, joined on the front row by Oliver Bearman, after his provisionally deleted qualifying time was reinstated, with Isack Hadjar, the most recent Feature Race Winner in third. 


The Race:

Bearman got off to a rapid race start, launching himself into the lead from P2 on the grid. Pole-sitter Bortoleto dropped three places, as Isack Hadjar and Joshua Durksen also made their way past the Brazilian at the race start. 


Further down the order, Dennis Hauger and Ritomo Miyata were sent skidding off into the gravel on the second lap, albeit rejoining further down in the field, and continued in the race. 


The field remained close, with Hadjar staying Bearman, the Frenchman looking to take his second consecutive Feature Race victory. Soon after, Hadjar, Durksen, Maloney, and Stanek were the first to pit on lap seven, but a slow stop for Durksen caused minor chaos, holding up his competitors. 


The early pit stops set off a chain of events for the frontrunners, with Bearman and Bortoleto being called into the pit lane. Ollie Bearman’s car stalled twice as he tried to leave his box, a disastrous moment for the Ferrari Academy Driver, costing him his race lead and relegating him to the back of the field, albeit behind many of the competitors yet to pit. 


As a result, Amaury Cordeel inherited the net race lead. Kush Maini was the first to be handed a penalty by the stewards, after being investigated for a false start, and was later slapped with a second penalty on lap 30, which was then retracted later in the race. 


The midfield battles continued into the middle stages of the race, as Maloney and Stanek scrapped for track position. The battling slowed the duo as their tyres were eaten away, allowing American Jak Crawford to join in on the action, as the trio of cars began to struggle, dropping away from Paul Aron in twelfth place. 


Stanek’s teammate Verschoor, and Hauger were soon to join in on the battle, with none of the five cars able to make any overtakes, whilst their performance worsened due to tyre degradation. 


Crawford, impatient with being held up, found himself side by side with Maloney and eventually overtook the Sauber Junior on lap 21, and passed Stanek four laps later through the Tamburello Chicane. 


Aron, Colapinto, and young Mercedes superstar Kimi Antonelli battled for position, Antonelli being the only Italian on the grid. Antonelli would come home to finish fourth in front of his home crowd with Colapinto and Aron in fifth and sixth respectively. 


With five laps to go, the top six cars who were yet to pit could go no longer on the alternate strategy, however, disaster in the pit lane ensued and the cars of both Cordeel and Marti saw their tyres flying off and down the pit lane. 


Cordeel’s wheel flung off into one of Marti’s mechanics and flew up into the air, delaying Marti’s stop, and it was the wheel that the hampered mechanic was tasked with changing on the Spaniard’s car that ended up detaching, retiring both cars from the race. Whilst this occurred, Maloney finally passed Stanek after a nearly race-long battle. 


Bortoleto inched closer and closer to Hadjar in the concluding phase of the race, but Bortoleto was unable to overtake although they were nose to tail down to the final lap. 


In an exciting and spectacular fashion, it was Red Bull junior Hadjar who would take the checkered flag first, his second feature race victory in a row which would provide an instrumental boost to his championship campaign. 


The Frenchman was followed across the line by Bortoleto and Durksen, making the newly rebranded AIX team’s first podium in Formula 2, and Durksen becoming the first Paraguayan to claim a podium finish.


Formula 2 returns on the 23rd of May at the difficult but iconic Monte Carlo Street Circuit.


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