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Formula 2: Bortoleto claims maiden win in Austria

Written by Jasmin Low

Gabriel Bortoleto achieved his maiden Formula 2 victory in Austria.

Image Credit: Formula 2

Formula 2 returned for its second of three consecutive race weekends, with all to play for as the season reached its official halfway point. The Saturday sprint was filled with wheel to wheel action as the three DRS zones kept the field close together and in contention for the podium. It would be Oliver Bearman who took his long-awaited first victory of the season, adding valuable points to his tally. Pepe Marti crossed the line in second, an important podium after the Spaniard’s disappointing home weekend in Barcelona. Championship leader Paul Aron kept up his podium streak in third. 

Dennis Hauger was the one to start on pole position for the feature race, joined on the front row by Joshua Durksen, with 2023 Formula 3 champion Gabriel Botroleto just behind in third. However it wasn’t to be for Hauger, with Brazilian Bortoleto claiming his maiden win. 

The Race

Pole sitter Dennis Hauger stalled on the grid during the formation lap, joined by Kush Maini and Jak Crawford for a pit lane start, Zak O’Sullivan being a fourth staller who was able to get his car re-started. A disappointing moment for Hauger changed his strategy before the race-start, as Durksen was left to lead the cars off the line. Zane Maloney stalled as the lights went out, leaving him behind as the rest of the cars took off around him, relegating the multiple-race winner to the back of the field. Maloney made it to turn four before pulling over and retiring from the race. 

Into turn 1, a shard of carbon fibre was seen flying off the track, as 2023 race winner Richard Verschoor ran wide. Antonelli was one of the big winners of the first lap, making up six places. Championship rivals Isack Hadjar and Paul Aron were locked in a fierce battle, scrapping for coveted points. 

By lap 3, the top ten had broken away from the rest of the field, two separate DRS trains keeping cars battling for track position. Bortoleto made a successful move down the inside of Durksen at turn four to snatch the race lead, whilst Aron and Hadjar continued to battle. Franco Colapinto was the next to make a move on Durksen, promoting him to the second spot on the podium. 

Aron was promoted to third as Durksen pitted, many of the drivers making a stop after a virtual safety car to get rid of their supersoft tyres. Kimi Antonelli suffered a disastrous pit stop, yet another driver to stall over the course of the race, leaving him at the rear of the field. Marti was left as the frontrunner of those who had pitted, striking strategic gold as he crossed into the pit lane as the virtual safety car was called out and leaving with a five-second gap to Bortoleto who was next on track. 

Colapinto was first on the road and on the alternate strategy, his goal being to build a gap to those who had already traded their supersoft tyres for softs. The Argentinian was over six seconds up the road from Bearman behind by lap fifteen.

Aron was dealt a five second penalty for moving multiple times under braking, the time to be added post-race, meaning the pressure was on for the Estonian to get as high up in the order as possible. Juan Manuel Correa was the second driver to be handed five seconds at the halfway point of the race, for failing to follow the race director’s instructions.

Rafael Villagomez came into contact with Roman Stanek, sending him into the gravel. As a result, Stanek was slapped with a ten second penalty. Ritomo Miyata suffered an issue which slowed him down momentarily on lap eighteen, an unusual weekend for Rodin Motorsport as both drivers suffered disappointing weekends. Bortoleto had closed up to the back of Marti by lap nineteen, overtaking him on lap 20. The next lap, Bearman was seen slowing with an engine issue, deeming it ‘race over’ over the radio and making him the second retirement of the race in a tough day for his Italian outfit, Prema Racing. 

Marti and Stanek swapped places multiple times, in a frustrating moment for the podium-contender as Bortoleto was allowed to escape nearly three seconds up the road. Richard Verschoor became the third retirement of the race, last year’s race winner suffering a poor weekend. Meanwhile, Campos teammates Hadjar and Marti entered into battle, Hadjar desperately needing to clear his teammate to get further up the track from his championship rival, Paul Aron. 

Hadjar passed Marti after team orders let the faster of the two chase Bortoleto down for the win. Durksen made his way up to ninth position which would be a potential podium once those on the alternate strategy had pitted. Meanwhile, Colapinto was now sixteen and a half seconds in the lead. He was called into the pit lane on lap 32, re-entering the race in eighth position, but on the rapid supersoft tyres. Bortoleto led the race two-seconds on from the Campos duo, whilst the Red Bull Juniors debated which car should be the one to pursue the race win with their team. Marti was under investigation for the legitimacy of his pit stop, and so was told to stay behind Hadjar, as Colapinto crept up to the back of the leading pack, much faster than those in front whose tyres were beginning to struggle. Colapinto overtook Aron to take fourth place, charging on to overtake Marti and then Hadjar soon after. 

Bortoleto was the first to cross the line after a valiant effort, followed by Colapinto with the fastest lap and Hadjar in third. A livid Marti crossed the line fourth on track, still under investigation for his potential virtual safety car infringement. It was a maiden Formula 2 win for the McLaren Junior, a joyous moment for him and for Invicta Racing, and moving him up to third in the championship. 

Formula 2’s next and final stop in this triple-header will be in Silverstone for the British Grand Prix, from the fifth of July. 


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