Frederik Vesti claimed the victory in a hectic Formula 2 feature race in Jeddah after mistakes left Prema team-mate Ollie Bearman and ART Grand Prix’s Victor Martins out of contention.
From sixth on the grid, the Vesti overtook Jehan Daruvala and DAMS’ Ayumu Iwasa in the opening lap, and stayed out of trouble to bound back from a difficult start to his 2023 season. Virtuosi Racing’s Jack Doohan and MP’s Daruvala completed the podium.
Bearman led at the first corner after a slow getaway from Martins, who covered Doohan well to only drop a place.
The virtual safety car was deployed on lap two to recover the PHM Racing by Charouz car of Brad Benavides from the run-off of turn one. Virtuosi’s Amaury Cordeel hit the front-left wheel of Benavides under braking, forcing the American to retire from the race. Cordeel was handed a 10-second time penalty for the action.
The track went green again one lap later with Bearman opening a two-second gap to Martins, who was under pressure from Doohan and Vesti.
Several drivers headed into the pitlane as the pit window opened by the end of lap six. Among those were Doohan and Vesti, who had dropped back off Martins in the previous lap. A perfect change from Prema’s crew allowed Vesti to move ahead of his rival.
Bearman and Martins pitted the following lap and came out comfortably ahead of Doohan and Vesti.
On lap 10, Martins went for a move on Bearman around the outside of turn one. The latter defended, which resulted in Martins going off the track to complete the manoeuvre and therefore having to give the place back.
Martins passed Bearman in the main straight on the following lap, but went slightly wide, allowing Bearman to try to regain the spot around the outside of turn two. Martins squeezed him into the outside kerb and Vesti took advantage of it to get past his team-mate Bearman who started to fall back before losing the control of his car at the apex of turn 22. However, he avoided the wall and rejoined having only lost three places.
One lap later, virtual leader Martins faced similar fortune between corners four and five. He hit the outside wall with the rear of his car and had to retire. Vesti was then first of those who had already boxed, followed by Doohan and Daruvala, as the virtual safety car was deployed for a second time.
Alternate strategy leader Arthur Leclerc came in for supersoft tyres with five laps remaining. A slow stop meant he lost part of the advantage he had earned by starting on the medium compound. He rejoined in ninth place, just behind Bearman, and finished the race in eighth.
Having started 14th and 15th, Rodin Carlin’s Enzo Fittipaldi and MP’s Dennis Hauger came back through the field to finish in seventh and fifth place respectively. In between them was Van Amersfoort Racing’s Richard Verschoor, who had pitted earlier than Leclerc in the alternate strategy.
Hitech GP’s Isack Hadjar and Ollie Bearman rounded off the top 10, with ART GP’s Theo Pourchaire classified in 13th place in what was a weekend to forget.
Race result (28 laps)
|3||Jehan Daruvala||MP Motorsport||+7.546s|
|5||Dennis Hauger||MP Motorsport||+11.712s|
|6||Richard Verschoor||Van Amersfoort Racing||+14.014s|
|9||Isack Hadjar||Hitech GP||+21.646s|
|11||Roy Nissany||PHM by Charouz||+28.854s|
|12||Kush Maini||Campos Racing||+29.731s|
|13||Theo Pourchaire||ART Grand Prix||+31.238s|
|15||Jak Crawford||Hitech GP||+32.973s|
|18||Juan Manuel Correa||Van Amersfoort Racing||+40.339s|
|19||Ralph Boschung||Campos Racing||+47.097s|
|Ret||Victor Martins||ART Grand Prix|
|Ret||Brad Benavides||PHM by Charouz|
|Fastest lap: Leclerc, 1m43.647s