Theo Pourchaire won a highly-eventful feature race at Sakhir after a late safety car period produced a final-lap showdown.
The ART driver benefitted from early issues for Juri Vips (Hitech GP) and Jack Doohan (Virtuosi) to lead after the pitstops. Following the late intervention, Pouchaire held off Carlin’s Liam Lawson and the recovering Vips to take his third F2 win.
Polesitter Doohan bogged down at the start and was passed by Vips and Campos Racing’s Ralph Boschung, who both made rapid getaways from the second and third rows. The safety car was deployed on the second lap after Mercedes junior Frederick Vesti (ART) spun to a halt following contact with Amaury Cordeel (Van Amersfoort Racing).
The action resumed three laps later, with Doohan immediately snatching second from Boschung into turn one. After losing further places to Pourchaire and Lawson, Boschung continued to struggle and slipped back to seventh. Debutant Ayuma Iwasa, one of four drivers to start on the soft compound tyre, stormed from the back of the field into the top-10 – and then passed Boschung for eighth.
Having controlled the early stages, Vips pitted from the lead on lap 14. But the Estonian was badly delayed by a slow tyre change. Doohan pitted on the next tour but, on rejoining alongside Pourchaire, touched the back of his rival’s car and damaged his front wing.
Iwasa took over at the front until making his mandatory stop on lap 19, rejoining in 10th. Pourchaire moved into the lead, and built a two-second advantage over Lawson, who passed MP Motorsport’s Felipe Drugovich for second.
But it was Vips who was on a charge following his pitlane drama. Comfortably the quickest driver on track, he picked off Boschung and Drugovich to reclaim third. He was then able to eradicate a 6s deficit to the top two with the help of the late safety car period.
The stoppage was a result of a collision between Enzo Fittipaldi (Charouz) and Saturday’s sprint race victor Richard Verschoor (Trident) that put the latter out. The pair had been in a frenetic five-car scrap for 11th before the incident. There was further chaos when reigning FIA Formula 3 champion Dennis Hauger (Prema) and Calan Williams (Trident) both lost a wheel in the pitlane while using the safety car period to change tyres.
The race resumed on lap 31 of the 32-lap encounter. But, due to the time limit expiring, it proved to be the final tour. Pourchaire managed the restart perfectly in the single-lap shootout to take victory. Vips had to settle for third behind former Hitech team-mate Lawson.
Boschung came home fourth ahead of Hitech’s Marcus Armstrong and Drugovich. Carlin’s Logan Sargeant was seventh ahead of Roy Nissany (DAMS) and Jake Hughes (VAR). Doohan recovered to 10th after his earlier incident.
Late drama dropped impressive debutant Iwasa, who moved up to seventh before the late caution period, to 16th for DAMS. Clement Novalak (MP) was another non-finisher, while Olli Caldwell (Campos) finished a lap down in 17th after a miserable race in which he incurred three penalties.
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