Written by Caitlyn Gordon, Edited by Ishani Aziz
Formula 2 and Formula 3 took to the streets of Albert Park for the first time ever. The weekend lived up to many viewers' expectations and more. Conditions in Melbourne changed last minute and provided some wet race action. Oliver Bearman was looking to redeem himself after an unfortunate crash with Theo Pourchaire which saw him finish P10. As was Ayumu Iwasa, who was just a few points behind, leading the standings, and looking to gain an advantage in Melbourne…
The start of the weekend ended in a red flag after some unexpected rain hit the track during the qualifying session. It was extremely difficult for drivers to see, and the red flag was brought out after Oliver Bearman hit the wall, Jak Crawford lost his front wing, and Arthur Leclerc spun out, causing accumulated debris to scatter across the track making the red flag come out for 25 minutes.
Qualifying resumed but the conditions were in no sign to clear up anytime soon and with 5 minutes left on the clock the drivers were going to their absolute limit to set a time. However, Victor Martins had a massive shunt and caused the red flag to come out again, but this time ending the season altogether, with Iwasa, Pourchaire, and Martins getting the top three places.
Conditions were no better than they were on Friday, and it wasn’t long before the accidents started. Enzo Fittipaldi and Ralph Boschung ended their sprint race early on the formation lap by hitting the wall.
When the race finally got on its way, Dennis Hauger was leading the pack and stayed firmly in the first position. Behind him, Bearman and Leclerc were battling it out for fourth position with Leclerc winning the scrap and going ahead.
Conditions were starting to get worse with radios getting sent to drivers that a forecast of rain was likely to hit the track soon. Roman Stanek was the first one to go into the pits and change to full wet tyres, but was proved wrong, not long afterward, as he spun out onto the grass shortly after leaving the pits. Brad Benavides was another driver to change to full wets, he lost control on the 20th lap ending his sprint race and bringing the safety car out.
As the race continued Hauger confidently stayed at the front leading the rest of the grid and soon he was crossing the finish line, earning his first sprint race trophy of the season. The Red Bull junior Crawford got a second-place finish and Kush Maini rounded out the top three with his first podium of the season.
Bearman and Vesti took seventh and eighth positions and gained a few points in their pursuit of the championship.
The Feature Race
The track was expected to remain dry for the whole of the feature race but that didn’t stop the drama from continuing. Juan Manuel Correa and Clement Novalak had some contact on the first lap, with the former leaving for the pits with a broken front wing and a puncture, re-entering a lap behind. Bearman’s bad luck seemed to follow him from Jeddah to Melbourne, as he received a 5-second penalty for a first lap incident between himself and Zane Maloney. A tight battle between Crawford and Jack Doohan, resulting in Crawford being sent into the wall resulted in a safety car. The drivers took advantage of this to head to the pits.
As Bearman exited the pits at the same time as Isack Hadjar, slight contact between them resulted in a puncture for Bearman, for which he was given yet another 5-second penalty. By the time Bearman fixed his puncture and served his time, he was all the way down in P20. After an unbelievable fight up the grid, Bearman found himself in P13, when his luck caught up with him again, and ultimately he ran onto the gravel, dropping him back to P17. It was sadly another unfortunate weekend for the youngster.
Up at the front of the pack, it was Iwasa, Pourchaire, and Hauger in the top three. Hauger was on his way to get another podium finish in Melbourne, when Victor Martins locked up after the safety car ended and hit Hauger as he was P3, dropping the Norwegian down to P19. After a strong weekend so far Hauger sadly ended it with no points. Martins also dropped down to the 18th position after the contact between the pair.
It was Iwasa who took the victory in Melbourne, winning back-to-back feature races. This puts him at the top of the standings leading by eight points ahead of Pourchaire. Pourchaire finished second and Leclerc rounded out the top three by taking home his first podium of the season after a strong race.
There is now a three week break between now and the next race in Baku, who will come on top in Azerbaijan? Will Iwasa gain more crucial points to further his lead in the championship or will the ART of Pourchaire catch up and close the gap? These questions will be answered come round four at Baku, in three weeks time.