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Stanek secures maiden F2 win after a caution-filled Sprint race.

Written by Caitlyn Gordon, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

Credits: Formula 2

The F2 weekend so far had been riddled with yellow flags throughout both practice and qualifying. After a late yellow flag in qualifying, Dennis Hauger secured his maiden F2 pole position, with Kimi Antonelli and Richard Verschoor rounding out the top three.

It was a disappointing weekend for Victor Martins who brought out qualifyings first caution after spinning into the gravel at Turn 20. The Frenchman will now start both places in last position — a lot of ground to make up in the next two races.

With the grid reversed for the Sprint race, Roman Stanek started on the front-row, with Gabriel Bortoleto behind him and Isack Hadjar in third. 

Early chaos

As the five lights went out, the 22 drivers all looked to get away cleanly, however, that wasn’t the case. A crash ensued just a couple of millimetres off the line. Martí and Bortoleto were the two caught up in the incident, spinning into the pit exit. and both had to retire from the race. 

The chaotic start to the sprint race; Credits: Formula 2

The incident involved the front running four, with Stanek getting off the line well, Hadjar was looking to jump ahead of the Croatian at the first corner, not realising his teammate Martí too had an excellent start. As the Frenchman moved to the right, Martí was cut in the crossfire. Looking to avoid an accident, he moved slightly to the right, and came in contact with Bortoleto. 

The incident was under review for the whole race, and after speaking to all three drivers involved it was concluded that Hadjar was predominantly to blame for the crash. The Red Bull-backed driver was issued a ten-second penalty, resulting in him losing his Sprint race win after leading the race for its entirety of 23 laps.

Green flag racing

Whilst the incident was being cleared away on track, Hadjar was leading the pack with Stanek just behind. After six laps of a safety car, racing action was back on. Hadjar caught Stanek off-guard at the restart, and within the first couple of corners, opened up a one-second gap to the rest. 

Zane Maloney, the championship leader, was running fourth, however, at the restart dropped down the pecking order after a moment of oversteer sent him into the gravel. 

The battle for second place was brewing, with the top six cars all running in contention for the place. Stanek was behind Hadjar by four seconds, meaning he had no DRS to defend himself with. Paul Aron just behind was closely trailing the Trident. 

The Antonelli-induced incident that caused late drama; Credits: Formula2

In the mix were Antonelli, Verschoor, Maini and Hauger, and in a quest to gain a position Antonelli made a move, however, it didn’t go to plan, as the Italian spun, taking both himself and Verschoor out in the process. The incident brought out the second yellow flag of the race, with the pack now closing up once again, and Hadjar losing his lead.

With nine to go, the track went green again. Just like the safety car restart earlier, Hadjar jumped ahead, and created another gap between himself and Stanek. Aron, running closely behind the Trident, ran onto the grass, losing his position and dropping all the way down to the back of the pack.

The Estonian headed into the pits to check for damage, and although there was no race-ending injury, the Hitech racer found himself 28 seconds behind, in 17th position.

In the closing laps, Stanek was under pressure from the looming threats of Maini and Hauger who were both hungry for the second place finish. Maini made the first move trying to pass the driver, however, this put him in the clutches of Hauger who successfully made the pass into third place, snatching the last podium position out of Maini’s hands.

The closing stages

Down the pack, Victor Martins made an excellent recovery drive, riding along in seventh, securing his first points of the season. Just behind him Oliver Bearman also looked to snatch a point, finishing in eighth, however, after an incident with Joshua Durksen, it was ruled Bearman was at fault for forcing Durksen off the track at Turn 14. The officials issued Bearman with a 10-second penalty, losing his first point of the season.

At the front, Hadjar crossed the line six seconds ahead of Stanek, however, the win wouldn’t hold with his post-race penalty being issued. The Frenchman dropped to sixth in the final classification.

The penalty gave Stanek victory, with Hauger and Maini rounding out the podium. The drop also sees Franco Colapinto move up into fourth, his best finish of the season, sliding himself up into the top ten of the standings. 

Maloney’s disappointing finish in the race saw the championship leader earn no points in the sprint, giving way for Hauger to catch up to the Barbadian in the standings, sitting just eight points behind the Rodin car. With Hauger starting on pole for tomorrow's Feature race, there is a good possibility the gap can be closed further.

The Top 10

1 - Roman Stanek

2 - Dennis Hauger

3 - Kush Maini

4 - Franco Colapinto

5 - Ritomo Miyata

6 - Isack Hadjar

7 - Victor Martins

8 - Zak O’Sullivan

9 - Jak Crawford

10 - Zane Maloney


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