Richard Verschoor claimed Trident’s first Formula 2 win in an entertaining opening race of the season at Sakhir, launching into the lead at lights out and cruising to victory ahead of pre-season title favourites Jehan Daruvala and Liam Lawson.
Verschoor was the last driver to be announced ahead of the new season but has become the first victor, with the Dutchman clinching a second win at this level. Overtaking the slow-starting Felipe Drugovich off-the-line, the Trident driver’s win rarely looked in doubt.
Jehan Daruvala came the closest to challenging Verschoor, but the PREMA Racing driver lost time while battling with Ralph Boschung for third, with the Campos Racing driver putting up a valiant defence, before dropping off the podium in the final laps.
Carlin’s Lawson was the one to nick the final place on the podium from Boschung, leaving the Swiss racer to settle for fourth ahead of reverse polesitter Drugovich.
Carling’s Logan Sargeant and Hitech Grand Prix’s Jüri Vips finished sixth and seventh after an enthralling battle, with Ayumu Iwasa clinching the final points’ position after a phenomenal debut drive from last to eighth.
AS IT HAPPENED
Trident only took their first F2 podium in the 2021 campaign and hadn’t stood on the top step in the second tier since Luca Ghiotto back in the 2016 GP2 campaign, but new recruit Verschoor had talked up the Italian team’s chances ahead of the opener and was starting from second.
The Dutchman – who won Sprint Race 2 at Silestone last season - made good on his promise at the start, bolting into the lead as reverse polesitter Drugovich got swallowed up by the pack.
Drugovich tumbled to sixth as Ralph Boschung flung his Campos from P6 to P2, completing his four-car haul by going around the outside of Daruvala at Turn 3, who had gained a position off the line himself. Lawson and Théo Pourchaire were the other beneficiaries from Drugovich’s boggy getaway, moving into fourth and fifth.
The all-action start was brought to a halt by an early Safety Car after Marcus Armstrong was tagged by Jake Hughes and spun to a stop. The Van Amersfoort racer, who had already fallen to ninth, was swiftly handed a 10s-time penalty.
Verschoor aced the restart and began to pull out of DRS range. Behind him, Pourchaire was forced to pull his ART into the pits and retire from fifth.
After a frenetic start, the field looked to have settled into their positions by the halfway point, before Vips pulled a move on Jack Doohan for sixth, who knew he was beat for pace and resisted the urge to defend.
Daruvala had been harrying Boschung for second and managed to make it stick narrowly ahead of a Virtual Safety Car, which was brought out after Hughes came to a stop on the gravel. Clément Novalak had made contact with the British racer and the MP Motorsport driver was handed a 10s-time penalty as punishment.
Daruvala and Boschung picked up their battle when racing resumed, but despite some toing and froing, the result remained the same, with Daruvala in second and eying up Verschoor. The Dutchman had built up a solid 3.6s lead before the VSC, but Daruvala managed to slice it down to 2.1s with five laps to go.
Boschung’s impressive defensive efforts were in vain as the Campos racer saw a third F2 podium slip through his fingers following an overtake from Lawson with three laps to go. The Swiss racer did at least hold onto fourth ahead of Drugovich.
After a slow start saw him nearly drop out of the points, Sargeant managed to get his tyres switched on in the second half of the race and recovered to finish in his original starting position of sixth, ahead of Vips.
Iwasa could lay claim to be driver of the day as the DAMS racer made up an incredible 14 places from last on the grid to eighth. The Red Bull junior had been left unable to set a time in Qualifying due to an early retirement, but fought his way up to the final points place.
KEY QUOTE – RICHARD VERSCHOOR (TRIDENT)
“I am really, really happy to win the race today. The team has worked very hard to achieve this. They were really motivated before the season and so was I. It is because of my sponsors that I am here now, and I thank to say a big thank you to all of them. I am really looking forward to tomorrow.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP VIEW
Verschoor leads the Drivers’ Championship with 10 points ahead of Daruvala on eight and Lawson on six. Boschung is fourth with five points, ahead of Drugovich on four.
In the Teams’ Championship, Trident are first with 10 points ahead of Carlin on nine and PREMA Racing on eight. Campos Racing are fourth with five points and MP Motorsport are fifth with four points.
Virtuosi Racing rookie Doohan will start from pole ahead of ART Grand Prix’s Théo Pourchaire in the first Feature Race of the season, with lights out at 1.40pm local time.