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O’Sullivan steals Monaco F2 feature race, denying Hadjar another win

by Peter Allen

Photo: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Zak O’Sullivan stole victory in the Monaco Formula 2 feature race from 15th on the grid thanks to a late virtual safety car, denying Isack Hadjar a third straight Sunday win.

Richard Verschoor appeared to be leading comfortably from pole position before a technical issue caused him to slow and eventually retire.

Just as in the sprint race, Victor Martins made a terribly slow getaway, falling from second to 14th and allowing Hadjar up into second and Paul Aron into third.

After his tough qualifying on Frday, Ollie Bearman was one of several further down the order to start the race on the supersoft tyres and made more progress than anyone on lap one, gaining five places up to seventh.

Verschoor and Hadjar traded fastest laps early on with the gap remaining under one second, but the Trident driver had pulled over four seconds clear when on lap 19 of 42 he reported “breaking down” and was slow through the tunnel.

He seemed to recover with a reduced lead until Hadjar pitted three laps later, the Campos Racing driver crucially rejoining ahead of Bearman, who had swapped onto soft tyres at the end of lap 16 and was undercutting much of the field to move into podium contention.

Verschoor pitted a lap later in response and managed to rejoin in front of Hadjar but he was visibly struggling for power and Hadjar pulled past on the pit straight one lap later. Aron and Bearman got past with similar moves on the subsequent laps before Verschoor fell through the field – receiving a five-second penalty to add insult to injury for cutting the chicane as he tried to keep position, which he pitted to serve before retiring.

In cleaner air, Hadjar was not able to pull away from Aron and Bearman, and the continued undercut threat from those extending their first stints was demonstrated by Juan Manuel Correa rejoining just behind Bearman and putting the pressure on for a potential podium. Dennis Hauger then pitted from the lead with 10 laps to go and, after a leisurely-looking stop, rejoined side-by-side by Correa before falling in behind.

O’Sullivan took up the lead, hoping for a safety car, and his chance came when Joshua Duerksen pitted with three laps to go and collided with Zane Maloney on exit, sending the erstwhile championship leader briefly airborne. While Maloney continued, Duerksen stopped by the side of the track and O’Sullivan was called into the pits, getting in just before the VSC was deployed – at which point, he would have been unable to serve his mandatory stop.

With the rest of the field slowed down, the Williams junior driver rejoined in front of Hadjar, who was then all over him when the restart came with just over a lap remaining. O’Sullivan held on to win by half a second over Hadjar, who expressed his fury over the radio.

Aron ended up 7.4s back in third but takes over the championship lead with his fifth podium of the year, two points in front of Hadjar.

Bearman ultimately missed the podium by one place but still took his best result of the season ahead of Correa and Hauger.

The Prema pair of Bearman and Andrea Kimi Antonelli went side-by-side when the latter rejoined just ahead from his pitstop on lap 22, with Bearman cutting back through the hairpin to get ahead.

Antonelli had a frustrating race stuck up behind Franco Colapinto, who managed to rejoin still in front when he pitted a lap later. Antonelli finally forced a way by at the final corner with five laps to go, with Gabriel Bortoleto and Maloney following him by. Antonelli held off Bortoleto and the late-stopping Martins for seventh, while erstwhile championship leader Maloney survived the late hit from Duerksen to salvage a single point in 10th.

Race results (42 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Zak O’Sullivan ART Grand Prix 1h00m25.696s
2 Isack Hadjar Campos Racing +0.580s
3 Paul Aron Hitech GP +8.053s
4 Ollie Bearman Prema +9.118s
5 Juan Manuel Correa DAMS +9.586s
6 Dennis Hauger MP Motorsport +9.945s
7 Andrea Kimi Antonelli Prema +17.540s
8 Gabriel Bortoleto Virtuosi Racing +17.847
9 Victor Martins ART Grand Prix +18.021s
10 Zane Maloney Rodin Motorsport +26.555s
11 Taylor Barnard AIX Racing +26.983s
12 Enzo Fittipaldi Van Amersfoort Racing +27.418s
13 Franco Colapinto MP Motorsport +30.213s
14 Pepe Marti Campos Racing +31.662s
15 Ritomo Miyata Rodin Motorsport +32.286s
16 Roman Stanek Trident +33.309s
17 Kush Maini Virtuosi Racing +33.796s
Ret Joshua Duerksen AIX Racing
Ret Richard Verschoor Trident
Ret Rafael Villagomez Van Amersfoort Racing
Ret Amaury Cordeel Hitech GP
Ret Jak Crawford DAMS
Fastest lap: Hauger, 1m22.384s

Championship standings
Aron 80   2 Hadjar 78   3 Maloney 69   4 Hauger 56   5 Bortoleto 50   6 Antonelli 48   7 O’Sullivan 40   8 Colapinto 38   9 Maini 34   10 Fittipaldi 32