Ollie Bearman benefited from a late pile-up to lead a Prema one-two behind the safety car in a chaotic Formula 2 sprint race in Baku.
MP Motorsport’s Dennis Hauger led most of the race from sixth on the reversed grid but was one of several to crash out following a late safety car restart, allowing Bearman to take a maiden triumph after starting ninth.
The drama started as soon as the lights went out, with the top three all involved in incidents. ART Grand Prix’s Victor Martins made the best launch from third and tried to thread his way between front row starters Richard Verschoor and Zane Maloney but made contact with the latter.
Van Amersfoort Racing’s Verschoor led into turn one but then hit the Tecpro barrier on the exit, his car sustaining race-ending damage. Maloney took over the lead, but the Rodin Carlin driver slowed a few corners later with a rear-right puncture – legacy of his earlier contact – allowing Hauger to move to the front ahead of Martins.
Ralph Boschung and Theo Pourchaire both gained four places on lap one to run sixth and seventh, but Boschung soon stopped with an issue and caused the first safety car period.
Racing resumed on lap six of 21, with Hauger immediately breaking clear while Martins held off Hauger’s team-mate Jehan Daruvala into Turn 1. Frederick Vesti and Bearman began to show strong pace, with Vesti pressuring Daruvala for third and his team-mate making moves on Pourchaire and Hitech GP’s Jak Crawford to climb to fifth.
Vesti eventually took third way from Daruvala into Turn 3 approaching the race’s halfway stage, and it wasn’t long until Bearman also found a way by him.
Martins kept within a second of Hauger for the lead before a crash for PHM Racing by Charouz’s Roy Nissany resulted in the second safety car intervention on lap 15.
Green flags were waved with three laps remaining, and chaos ensued. Hauger held the lead into Turn 1 but then slid into the barriers at the exit, with Martins joining him. Daruvala, who was side-by-side with Bearman for fourth, clattered into the back of Martin’s stricken machine, which was launched on top of his own car.
Pourchaire and Arthur Leclerc also retired at Turn 1, while Virtuosi Racing’s Jack Doohan spun backwards before the corner.
Bearman snatched the lead from Vesti later in the lap, and moments before the race was neutralised for a third time, with the remainding laps run behind the safety car.
Crawford finished third ahead of Kush Maini and Enzo Fittipaldi, while VAR’s Juan Manuel Correa was sixth. Clement Novalak came home seventh ahead of Isack Hadjar and Romanek Stanek with Amaury Cordeel 10th. Ayuma Iwasa and Maloney were also retirements.
Sprint race results (21 laps)
|3||Jak Crawford||Hitech GP||+3.090s|
|4||Kush Maini||Campos Racing||+6.485s|
|6||Juan Manuel Correa||Van Amersfoort Racing||+10.405s|
|8||Isack Hadjar||Hitech GP||+13.602s|
|10||Amaury Cordeel||Virtuosi Racing||+16.232s|
|11||Brad Benavides||PHM by Charouz||+18.140s|
|12||Victor Martins||ART Grand Prix||+3 laps|
|13||Jehan Daruvala||MP Motorsport||+3 laps|
|14||Dennis Hauger||MP Motorsport||+3 laps|
|15||Theo Pourchaire||ART Grand Prix||+3 laps|
|16||Arthur Leclerc||DAMS||+3 laps|
|17||Jack Doohan||Virtuosi Racing||+3 laps|
|Ret||Roy Nissany||PHM by Charouz|
|Ret||Ralph Boschung||Campos Racing|
|Ret||Richard Verschoor||Van Amersfoort Racing|
|Fastest lap: Bearman, 1m55.796s