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Formula 2: DAMS make it a double with strategic masterclass in Barcelona

Written by Jasmin Low

Formula 2 returns to Barcelona for the first of three consecutive race weekends, the well-known track continuing to prove a tough one to master for the drivers. 

A slew of penalties after the Saturday Sprint for surpassing track limits were dealt to much of the grid, heartbreakingly costing Juan Manuel Correa his first Formula 2 podium since his fatal accident with Anthoine Hubert in 2019. 

Newly crowned championship leader Paul Aron was promoted to the podium, whilst Victor Martins took his first victory of the season and Kush Maini took to the second step of the podium. 

In the Sunday Feature Race, American Jak Crawford won his first race of the season, while his DAMS teammate Juan Manuel Correa joined him on the podium in third and Argentinian Franco Colapinto completed the podium with the runner-up spot. 

The Race

As the cars left the grid for the formation lap, Kimi Antonelli stalled, the Mercedes-backed superstar who is a popular prospect for an F1 drive in the near future, now forced to begin from the pitlane. Trident’s Roman Stanek too started from the pits, relegating the duo to the back of the field. 

Paul Aron got away cleanly as the light went out, followed by Jak Crawford and Franco Colapinto just before a two-car tangle quickly ensued, involving Saturday Sprint winner Victor Martins and Dennis Hauger, beaching them in the gravel whilst sending two others skidding off the track and calling for an early safety car.

Racing resumed entering into the fourth lap, and Isack Hadjar, having climbed six places swiftly before the safety car, entered into a battle with 2023 Formula 3 Champion Gabriel Bortoleto. Oliver Bearman and Enzo Fittipaldi were locked in a tight battle for ninth place, both on the hunt for valuable championship points. 

Aron built a gap of over two seconds to Crawford in second whilst the rest of the field remained bunched closely together behind him, however the soft-tyre advantage slowly slipped away as the high-degradation track surface began to favour the hard-compound tyres by lap six. 

The first cars took to the pit lane by lap nine, including Crawford, Ritomo Miyata, Monaco Feature Race winner Zak O’Sullivan, and Stanek. Fittipaldi was hampered by an issue with his mirrors and took to the pit lane, however a slow stop saw Zane Maloney come out in front of the Brazilian. 

Paul Aron reacted to Crawford’s earlier pit stop, however a slow stop meant Crawford was right on the tail of the Hitech and able to overtake Aron on his warmer tyres, granting the American the net race lead. 

A Virtual Safety Car was deployed on lap 13 as Taylor Barnard halted on the inside of the final corner, the green flag again flying the next lap. On Lap 16, Paul Aron flew off the track and into the gravel at turn 14, letting Bortoleto, Colapinto, and O’Sullivan through, as well as noting him with the stewards for an unsafe rejoin, which he was later cleared of. 

AIX Racing’s woes continued as Joshua Durksen, the lead driver on the alternative strategy, and the leader on track, suffered an issue which made him the fourth driver to retire from the race and brought out a second Virtual Safety Car. 

As soon as racing conditions resumed, Bortoleto and Colapinto were side by side, with Aron racing O’Sullivan just behind. The first black and white flag was shown to Bearman, the Ferrari Driver Academy member struggling with track limits in both races over the weekend. 

Colapinto made his way past Bortoleto on lap 23, a move which would later prove crucial for a podium position. 

Correa, the leading car on the alternate strategy made his pit stop on lap 28 having to hold as Kush Maini also pitted, slowing him down but still leaving him within the points positions, whilst on track, Aron overtook Bortoleto for third place. 

Correa, on new soft tyres and with low fuel, was rapid as he made overtake after overtake, climbing up to fourth with seven laps to go. By lap 33, Correa passed Aron for third place, reclaiming the place of which he was denied the day before. Fittipaldi was handed a five-second penalty for track limits which removed him from the points paying positions. 

Invicta teammates Bortoleto and Maini came together on the final lap after going wheel to wheel, sending carbon fibre shards flying off of Bortoleto’s front wing, and causing the duo to end up sixth and seventh on the road. 

Crawford came home first across the line in a commanding victory, followed by Colapinto and Correa. DAMS proved to have the best strategies of all the teams, granting both their drivers a well-deserved spot on the podium.

Correa, after his post-race penalty from the sprint, took his rightful spot on the podium, five years on from the accident which almost ended his life. Paul Aron and Isack Hadjar were the drivers to round out the top five, both bringing home valuable points in their pursuit of the Formula 2 crown. 

Formula 2 is back on the 28th of June at Austria’s famous Red Bull Ring.


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