ART’s Victor Martins scored a maiden Formula 2 win at Silverstone, but it was a weekend of mixed fortunes for points leader Frederik Vesti.
After taking a dominant triumph in Saturday’s wet sprint race Vesti retired from Sunday’s feature race, while Alpine junior Martins overcame a five-second penalty to edge Rodin Carlin’s Zane Maloney to victory by two seconds.
A heavy rain shower before the sprint race led to a rolling start following three formation laps, with Vesti leading away from reversed-grid pole.
Clement Novalak and Brad Benavides tangled as they tried to pass Ayumu Iwasa, who had slowed with an issue, with Benavides spinning into the barriers and retiring.
That resulted in an early safety car period, with Vesti pulling clear at the resumption before eventually finishing 13.4 seconds clear of his chief title rival Theo Pourchaire.
Vesti’s team-mate Ollie Bearman charged from fifth to second but then spun on the exit of Club and lost a position to Isack Hadjar, and the British driver soon lost out to Pourchaire before slipping into the clutches of Jack Doohan.
Hadjar tyres started to fade, resulting in him losing second Pourchaire and it wasn’t long until he was passed by both Bearman and Doohan, who were involved in a fierce scrap for several laps.
Doohan became increasingly irate on his radio after being squeezed off the track by Bearman at Stowe, but the Australian driver finally prevailed after his rival outbraked himself and slid off the track. Pourchaire finished in a lonely second ahead of Doohan, while Rodin Carlin’s Enzo Fittipaldi came home fourth.
Bearman rejoined from his excursion in sixth, and he remained there until the finish despite his attempts to take fifth from Hadjar.
Close behind the pair at the chequered flag were Martins, Arthur Leclerc and Roy Nissany, while Zane Maloney finished a distant 10th.
Iwasa had better fortunes at the start of the feature race, making a great launch from third to move in between Martins and Kush Maini into the lead.
Martins quickly wrestled the advantage back from Iwasa, but later in the race was handed a 5s penalty for having all four wheels of the track while completing the move.
Iwasa could not keep pace with Martins, who pulled over five seconds clear before the first of three safety car periods, caused by Amaury Cordeel spinning to a halt at Copse.
Many drivers, including Martins, used the intervention to make their mandatory pitstop and switch from soft to hard compound tyres.
Martins rejoined in third behind Isack Hajdar and Arthur Leclerc, who started the race on the hard tyre and opted not to pit.
A second safety car period immediately followed the first after an incident involving Vesti. As the cars bunched up for the restart, the Prema driver was rear-ended into Roman Stanek by Dennis Hauger. Stanek retired on the spot, while Vesti retired shortly afterwards with suspension damage. Hauger rejoined the race after pitting for a new front wing.
Hadjar led from Leclerc for a few laps following the resumption before the pair made their mandatory pitstops during a third safety car period, triggered when Maini clattered into his team-mate Ralph Boschung while trying to pass another car, putting both Campos Racing cars out.
A slow stop left Hadjar near the back, while Leclerc rejoined in fourth behind Martins, Maloney and Pourchaire.
The race resumed with 10 laps remaining, and Leclerc soon used the superior grip of his soft tyres to pass Pourchaire before closing in on Maloney.
But Leclerc’s tyres eventually gave up and he slipped back to ninth at the finish. Needing to overcome his penalty, Martins pulled out a 5s lead over Maloney with three laps to spare, and then extended his advantage by a further couple of seconds before the finish.
Pourchaire took his second podium of the weekend in third to close the gap to Vesti in the championship to six points.
Doohan was fourth ahead of Iwasa, while Bearman edged Daruvala and Fittipaldi to sixth. Jak Crawford finished 10th, while Novalak was another to lose grip on soft tyres late on, tumbling out of top-10 to 13th.
Featured image credit: @fia_f2 official twitter