ART Grand Prix’s Theo Pourchaire took his third Formula 2 feature race win, triumphing at Imola after DAMS’ Roy Nissany looked poised to win before crashing out.
In a very chaotic start, neither of the front row starters – Hitech Grand Prix’s Juri Vips or DAMS’ Ayumu Iwasa – had a great getaway. It was Campos Racing’s Ralph Boschung, who started fourth, who initially looked to have the best opening metres, but DAMS driver Nissany vaulted up from sixth to remarkably lead out of Tamburello, having passed Boschung around the outside.
In amongst all that, former FIA Formula 3 title contenders Dennis Hauger and Jack Doohan collided, damaging the Virtuosi Racing’s front wing and suspension and ending his race, and spearing the Prema Racing driver into the pit wall and also out of the contest.
Nissany aced the restart and led the field away but only more of the 35 laps had been completed before Vips spun off into the gravel having run wide at Villeneuve.
Many of the option-starting drivers opted to pit at the end of lap seven, prompting some teams to have to double-stack – hampering Iwasa notably. Prema’s Jehan Daruvala – the highest-placed starter on the harder tyres – led away at the subsequent restart on lap 10.
From there, it appeared to be a straightforward race, with the only notable moves occurring being Virtuosi’s Marino Sato passing Van Amersfoort Racing’s Jake Hughes for P5 on the road, and ART Grand Prix’s Pourchaire getting by Boschung for net P2.
That was until Nissany crashed at Rivazza 2 on lap 20, having had a solid advantage to Pourchaire, spearing into the pitlane and leaving grass and debris on the pit entry. While the Virtual Safety Car that came as a result prevented any pitstops, the pit entry was also closed while clean-up took place.
There was drama late on as Carlin’s Liam Lawson brought out a late safety car due to a crash on the run up to Variante Alta. It came a little too late for MP Motorsport’s Felipe Drugovich and Sato – the drivers who stopped the latest.
That left Pourchaire out front to come through and take his second feature race victory of the season as the race finished behind the safety car, while Charouz Racing System’s Enzo Fittipaldi, who started 15th, benefitted from the chaos and put in some fine overtakes to take second in the closing stages ahead of Boschung.
Novalak took fourth ahead of Iwasa, while ART’s Frederik Vesti took his first F2 points. Carlin’s Logan Sargeant looked good for a podium but dropped back late-on and finished seventh. Charouz’s David Beckmann, Daruvala and Drugovich rounded out the points finishers.
Others on the alternative strategy lost out big time due to the timing of the safety car. Daruvala led that pack by some margin initially, but the 25-second gap to the frontrunners was just too much to overcome.
VAR’s Amaury Cordeel picked up a wide range of penalties for track limits and speeding in the pitlane.
Race result (25 laps)
|1||Theo Pourchaire||ART Grand Prix||1h01m56.611s|
|2||Enzo Fittipaldi||Charouz Racing System||+0.388s|
|3||Ralph Boschung||Campos Racing||+0.729s|
|4||Clement Novalak||MP Motorsport||+1.497s|
|6||Frederik Vesti||ART Grand Prix||+2.122s|
|8||David Beckmann||Charouz Racing System||+3.229s|
|10||Felipe Drugovich||MP Motorsport||+4.396s|
|12||Jake Hughes||Van Amersfoort Racing||+5.044s|
|13||Marcus Armstrong||Hitech GP||+6.287s|
|14||Olli Caldwell||Campos Racing||+6.745s|
|17||Amaury Cordeel||Van Amersfoort Racing||+1m21.403s|
|Ret||Juri Vips||Hitech GP|
|Fastest lap: Daruvala, 1m28.353s