Formula 2

Formula 2: Pourchaire triumphs in crash-filled Imola feature race

Featured image credit: @formula2 official twitter

ART’s Theo Pourchaire claimed his second feature race win of the season in a chaotic contest at Imola that finished behind the safety car.

Despite not leading a single green-flag lap, the Frenchman came from seventh on the grid to triumph ahead of Enzo Fittipaldi and Ralph Boschung in race where several leading contenders crashed out

Pourchaire took over the lead of the championship from MP Motorsport’s Felipe Drugovich, who finished 10th.

Nissany flies to first as others hit trouble

Campos driver Boschung made a lightning start from fourth on the grid and squeezed through the middle of front-row starters Juri Vips and Ayuma Iwasa, who were both slow away. But he was passed for the lead into the first corner by Iwasa’s DAMS team-mate Nissany, who made an even better getaway from sixth.

Virtuosi’s Jack Doohan tried to follow Boschung past the front-row pair off the line, but made contact with Prema’s Dennis Hauger, who was pushed into the pitwall. Doohan then also tripped over Vips’s Hitech machine and damaged his front wing. Hauger’s race was over on the spot, while Doohan also retired after crawling back to the pits.

Vips, who had qualified on pole, slipped back to fourth behind Iwasa, while Pourchaire benefitted from Doohan and Hauger’s retirements to move up to fifth.

The safety car was deployed to retrieve Hauger’s car, with the order remaining the same when the race resumed on lap five. But it only took one more lap before the safety car was needed again.

Vips made an unforced error by running wide onto the grass exiting the Villeneuve chicane, before spearing across the track into the barriers. The second caution period resulted in a flurry of activity in the pitlane, with more than half the field, including Nissany, Iwasa and Pourchaire, coming in to change from soft to medium compound tyres. 

Nissany’s victory hopes end in the wall

Prema’s Jehan Daruvala led from Marcus Armstrong (Hitech) and Liam Lawson (Carlin) when the action resumed once more three laps later, the trio having started the race on the medium tyres and opted to stay out.

Nissany was the net leader in 10th place, but he threw away the chance of taking his maiden victory with 15 laps remaining. After running wide exiting the final corner, the Williams Formula 1 reserve driver lost control and crashed into the wall before immediately driving his battered car into the pitlane to retire.

That triggered a virtual safety car period and a brief closure of the pitlane, with grass and debris covering the pitlane entry. Unable to make their mandatory stop, Daruvala maintained the five-second lead he had built up over Armstrong, who had Lawson close behind.

The latter pitted soon after the green flags were shown, with Daruvala coming in one lap later, but both rejoined outside of the top ten. Armstrong then pitted from the lead, but was delayed by a slow stop.

Pourchaire gains the advantage as Lawson crash leads to anticlimactic finish

Having got ahead of Iwasa and Boschung earlier on, Pourchaire now held the net lead in fourth place. Carlin’s Logan Sargeant passed Boschung to snatch fifth at the Tamburello chicane with four laps to go, but ran off track a few corners later, handing the position back.

Having a storming race from 15th on the grid, Fittipaldi also took advantage by passing Sargeant for sixth into Tamburello, the latter then losing further positions to MP Motorsport’s Clement Novalak and Iwasa. 

Olli Caldwell made his mandatory stop from third with three laps to go for Campos, with a third safety car period soon following after Lawson crashed into the wall.  Drugovich and Virtuosi’s Marino Sato pitted from the top two for their mandatory stops, allowing Pourchaire to take the lead on the penultimate lap and follow the safety car until the finish.

Fittipaldi passed Boschung before the race was neutralised to record his best ever F2 result in second. Novalak also scored his highest finish in fourth, ahead of Iwasa, ART’s Frederick Vesti and Sargeant. Charouz stand-in David Beckmann was eighth, ahead of Daruvala and Drugovich.


Featured image credit: @formula2 official twitter

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