Home Featured Hauger survives late rain to take start-to-finish F2 win in Melbourne

Hauger survives late rain to take start-to-finish F2 win in Melbourne

by Roger Gascoigne

Photo: Red Bull

Dennis Hauger survived a late-race shower and safety car restart to take a lights-to-flag victory in Formula 2’s sprint race in Melbourne.

The MP Motorsport driver came under pressure from fellow front-row starter Jak Crawford (Hitech GP) in the opening laps before gradually extending his lead to over two seconds.

A spin from Virtuosi Racing’s Jack Doohan after contact with Juan Manuel Correa brought out the safety car with eight laps remaining just as rain started to fall over the Albert Park circuit. The leaders stayed out and once racing resumed with just two laps to go, and with the rain having abated, Hauger made an excellent restart to take the chequered flag.

The opening laps featured plenty of action behind the leaders as DAMS’ Arthur Leclerc, having started on soft tyres, looked to make up ground after a poor start, battling with a fast-starting Ollie Bearman for fourth.

Having found a way past the Prema driver, Leclerc was soon onto the tail of Campos Racing’s Kush Maini, Leclerc taking third on lap seven but Maini immediately repassing into Turn 11.

Leclerc’s DAMS team-mate Ayumu Iwasa was forced to pit with a puncture after contact with Rodin Carlin’s Zane Maloney on lap one, dropping Iwasa to the tail of the field.

Once DRS was belatedly enabled, the pack from Maini in third to Prema’s Frederik Vesti in ninth became stuck in a DRS train, running nose-to-tail but with little opportunity to gain places.

On lap 11, Maloney managed to find a way past ART Grand Prix’s Victor Martins for fifth, as Hitech’s Isack Hadjar tried unsuccessfully to follow him through, and the Prema pair looked to take advantage of any chance to sneak through.

Three laps later Doohan, caught in a midfield scrap with Trident’s Roman Stanek and Van Amersfoort Racing pairing Correa and Richard Verschoor, was tipped into a spin at Turn 3 by Correa. With Doohan unable to keep the engine running and the car broadside across the circuit, the safety car was deployed.

As the marshals fought to move his car to safety, a brief rain shower prompted pitstops from some of the midfield runners. Theo Pourchaire and Stanek opted for wet tyres, while Correa – now with a 10s penalty for the Doohan – and Amaury Cordeel resumed on mediums.

The next time around, Martins pitted from seventh, joined by Jehan Daruvala, Iwasa and Brad Benavides.

As the field prepared for the restart, Benavides skated off at Turn 13, extending the safety car period. With the shower now having passed, the wet tyre-shod runners were left stranded, Pourchaire running off track as he fought to hang on.

As Hauger eased away over the final two laps of racing, Leclerc on worn softs came under renewed pressure from Maloney and Hadjar, holding onto fourth, as Bearman repassed Vesti to gain seventh at the finish.

Neither Enzo Fittipaldi or Ralph Boschung took the start after being caught out by a damp track surface and spinning out en route to the grid.

Race results (22 laps)
Pos Driver Team Gaps
1 Dennis Hauger MP Motorsport 40m03.429s
2 Jak Crawford Hitech GP +1.120s
3 Kush Maini Campos Racing +1.716s
4 Arthur Leclerc DAMS +2.064s
5 Zane Maloney Carlin +2.447s
6 Isack Hadjar Hitech GP +2.842s
7 Ollie Bearman Prema +4.858s
8 Frederik Vesti Prema +5.299s
9 Roy Nissany PHM by Charouz +5.591s
10 Richard Verschoor Van Amersfoort Racing +5.759s
11 Clement Novalak Trident +6.417s
12 Amaury Cordeel Virtuosi Racing +11.851s
13 Ayumu Iwasa DAMS +12.395s
14 Juan Manuel Correa Van Amersfoort Racing +16.816s
15 Victor Martins ART Grand Prix +36.640s
16 Roman Stanek Trident +37.222s
17 Jehan Daruvala MP Motorsport +41.076s
18 Theo Pourchaire ART Grand Prix +2 laps
Ret Brad Benavides PHM by Charouz
Ret Jack Doohan Virtuosi Racing
Ret Ralph Boschung Campos Racing
Ret Enzo Fittipaldi Carlin
Fastest lap: Hauger, 1m31.267s

Championship standings
 Boschung 33   2 Iwasa 33   2 Pourchaire 32   4 Vesti 31   5 Hauger 30   6 Maini 26   7 Daruvala 24   Maloney 21   9 Doohan 20   10 Verschoor 20