Written by Olly Radley, Edited by Sasha Macmillen
After an action-packed season opener in F2, Richard Verschoor takes his second F2 race win and gets Trident their first F2/GP2 win since Luca Ghiotto at Malaysia in 2016.
The grid for this evening’s race was decided by the top 10 qualifiers from Friday being reversed, putting MP Motorsport’s Felipe Drugovich on pole position. Alongside him on the front row was the eventual race winner Richard Verschoor, who only just made it onto the grid due to a lack of finance. Van Amersfoort’s Jake Hughes lined up third ahead of Prema’s newest recruit Jehan Daruvala. Liam Lawson, a big favourite for the title started fifth after a sixth placed finish in qualifying. After a strong Friday: Vips, Pourchaire, and Doohan started eighth, ninth, and tenth respectively for the sprint race. The reigning F3 champion Dennis Hauger could only manage 15th in qualifying.
Off the start, the first and third placed drivers - Drugovich and Hughes - both got a boot-load of wheelspin at the start, halting their acceleration and losing them lots of positions off of the line, ending up fifth and sixth respectively. Verschoor, in second, raced into the lead at the first corner, leaving the struggling pair behind him, with Ralph Boschung also progressing from sixth up to second.
After that first lap, Richard Verschoor checked out in the race, leading from lap 1 to the chequered flag and driving a very mature and managed race. The Dutchman maintained safe gaps to whoever was in second throughout the race and did a super job of managing his tyres. As I mentioned, this is Verschoor’s second F2 win, having driven a similarly dominant race at Silverstone last year on his way to his first triumph.
The battle for second provided us with plenty of excitement towards the end of the race. After his impeccable start, Ralph Boschung kept the position for most of the race while Prema’s Jehan Daruvala occupied third for most of the race keeping a measurable gap throughout. Towards the latter stages of the race, at around lap 14, Jehan Daruvala upped the ante just a bit, as the Indian began to close up on Boschung ahead. Daruvala made his first attempt at taking P2 on lap 15, which was craftily defended by Boschung. The next lap, however, Daruvala successfully took the second spot on the podium, only for Boschung to reclaim the position the very next lap. The battle finally reached its conclusion the next lap with a clean move into Turn 4 from Daruvala securing his place in second, with Boschung not coming back after it.
Daruvala held onto the position until the end, finishing second, while Boschung’s tyres suddenly dropped off by quite a bit late on, going wide and ceding the final spot on the rostrum to Liam Lawson, who’d spent most of the race defending from pole-sitter Felipe Drugovich. The MP Motorsport driver sat in the DRS of Lawson for several laps, getting close to the back of the Carlin driver lap-after-lap, never actually making a move for fourth, instead finishing fifth where he’d been for that whole period of time.
While Drugovich lost lots of places after his poor start, Jake Hughes had an awful downward spiral after his start, ending up in 11th by Lap 3 from his P3 start. On that very lap, having been overtaken by Marcus Armstrong, the Brit got his braking all wrong when defending from Roy Nissany, ramming into the back of Armstrong, who’d just improved to tenth, ending his race and bringing out the Safety Car. The stewards gave Hughes a 10-second penalty for the incident, only for Hughes to be hit by Novalak later on, which ended his race.
The only other driver to not finish was Theo Pourchaire, who had an engine issue which caused oil to leak out of the back of his ART car at the restart of the Safety Car. Logan Sargeant’s full time debut for Carlin saw him manage his tyres brilliantly and surge up to sixth from eighth in the latter stages of the race, at one point lapping a second a lap faster than Juri Vips ahead of him. The aforementioned Vips made several impressive dive-bombs on Sargeant, Hughes, and Doohan, being in sixth at one point, which was taken from him by the charging American.
Another noteworthy performance was that of Ayumu Iwasa. The DAMS driver had a nightmare in qualifying, spinning on the third corner of his outlap and beaching his car in the gravel trap, which put him last for today’s sprint race and tomorrow’s feature race. DAMS put Iwasa on the softer compound of tyres, which helped him climb from the back of the grid all the way up to eighth, warranting the Japanese Red Bull prospect one singular point for his efforts.
We’ll have the feature race at 10:40AM GMT(13:40 Local), where I’m sure we’ll see some great racing, which is standard in F2.
From me, though, it’s bye for now.
Current Drivers’ Standings
Richard Verschoor, Trident - 10
Jehan Daruvala, Prema - 8
Liam Lawson, Carlin - 6
Ralph Boschung, Campos - 5
Felipe Drugovich, MP - 4
Current Constructors’ Standings
Trident - 10
Carlin - 9
Prema - 8
Campos - 5
MP Motorsport - 4
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