DAMS’ Ayumu Iwasa claimed victory in a thrilling Formula 2 sprint race in Jeddah.
Jak Crawford started on reversed-grid pole made a strong enough launch to lead into the opening corner, as Iwasa passed the two Campos Racing cars to go from fourth to second.
The power of the slipstream allowed Iwasa to stay close to Crawford, getting alongside at the turn 13 hairpin, but it was too risky on cold tyres to make a move successfully until the pair returned to turn one on lap two.
Zane Maloney spun exiting the corner and could not get his car started again, requiring the safety car to come out for three laps.
Crawford lost second to Campos’s Ralph Boschung on the restart at turn one, while Boschung’s team-mate Kush Maini lost positions to Jehan Daruvala and Ollie Bearman in sector one and then another to Victor Martins at turn 13.
Theo Pourchaire was next to clear Maini, doing so with a great lunge into turn one on the next tour. An attempted repeat of that lunge when they came to turn one again resulted in Pourchaire passing Martins but then clattering into Bearman and putting both into retirement. The safety car was summoned again, with racing resuming on lap 10 of 20.
Iwasa nailed the restart to be out of Boschung’s reach by turn one. Crawford was already down to fourth having been passed by Daruvala on the previous restart, and this time he fell to fifth as Martins made a late-braking move at turn one.
Maini also passed him at turn 13, but Crawford reclaimed the place into the final corner. He started the next lap with Jack Doohan on his left and Maini on his right, and it was Maini who reached turn one in fifth with Crawford in sixth and Doohan having to back out of a move on the inside.
There was also changes for position ahead, as Daruvala passed Boschung for second into the final corner. Boschung slipstreamed back past down the pit straight and held the line through turn one to stay ahead.
He only remained there for a lap though before Daruvala passed him at turn one, with Martins doing the same a lap later.
Daruvala quickly moved onto the back of Iwasa and passed him at turn one on lap 15. However he went through the run-off to do so and let Iwasa back past.
Iwasa braked early into turn one on lap 16, holding up Daruvala and bringing Martins into the lead fight, then took the opposite approach for lap 17 and went deep.
His entry into the corner baulked Daruvala and allowed Martins to sneak through, but tyre preservation meant the attacking driving was dialled down in the last laps and Martins stayed behind Iwasa until the finish.
Boschung finished fourth to become points leader, and team-mate Maini was fifth. Frederik Vesti emerged on top of a late battle with Doohan for sixth, and Crawford sank to ninth behind Dennis Hauger.
Race result (20 laps)
|2||Victor Martins||ART Grand Prix||+0.700s|
|3||Jehan Daruvala||MP Motorsport||+1.186s|
|4||Ralph Boschung||Campos Racing||+1.979s|
|5||Kush Maini||Campos Racing||+2.544s|
|7||Jack Doohan||Virtuosu Racing||+3.380s|
|8||Dennis Hauger||MP Motorsport||+4.555s|
|9||Jak Crawford||Hitech GP||+4.578s|
|10||Roy Nissany||PHM by Charouz||+6.412s|
|12||Isack Hadjar||Hitech GP||+7.642s|
|14||Juan Manuel Correa||Van Amersfoort Racing||+13.127s|
|16||Richard Verschoor||Van Amersfoort Racing||+13.778s|
|18||Brad Benavides||PHM by Charouz||+20.500s|
|19||Amaury Cordeel||Virtuosi Racing||+35.418s|
|Ret||Theo Pourchaire||ART Grand Prix|
|Fastest lap: Martins, 1m44.886s