For the first time in its history, Formula 2 has three race winners from a single round, and the trio joined one another in lauding the new-look format.
With an added race per round, the new format proved particularly beneficial to rookies, who enjoyed more track time on their debuts than they would have done in previous years.
The first of three winners, Hitech Grand Prix debutant Liam Lawson was particularly pleased with the additional time he got around the Bahrain International Circuit.
“Having another race during a weekend is always better because you get more time in the car,” said Lawson. “On an F1 weekend, your time in the car has previously been quite limited with just the one practice session, so I like it.
“I’d also add that it makes qualifying even more important - being inside of the top 10 is crucial for all three races.”
Fellow rookie Oscar Piastri won Saturday’s second Sprint Race, completing a superb last-lap overtake of UNI-Virtuosi’s Guanyu Zhou to seal his first win in Formula 2.
The victory dispelled any fears he had about the new-look, with the Australian saying that this weekend proved the quickest drivers will still always come out on top.
“I think it’s very exciting,” said Piastri. “I had a few concerns over whether it would benefit or hinder people who qualified well, but besides (Felipe) Drugovich in Sprint Race 1, all of the guys who qualified at the front survived race 1 and were starting at the front for the second race.
“You still get two races where you get an advantage for qualifying well, so it makes the reverse grid races feel less guilty because you have got two of them. The second race is kind of a reverse of a reverse, so technically the quicker drivers should still be at the front for that one, which is exciting.”
Coming away from Round 1 with a win, a podium and the Championship lead, Zhou built the foundations of his weekend in Friday’s Qualifying session, taking the first pole of the year for the second season in a row.
Unsurprisingly, the Chinese racer joined his Alpine academy rival Piastri in pinpointing the increased importance of Qualifying at the front.
“If you start the weekend with a good qualifying, you can then have a really bad day on the Saturday, but you have a chance to come back strongly on the Sunday,” said Zhou. “There is so much going on. I think this will make consistency even more key.
“The new format makes entertaining race. It makes it interesting for fans and it’s interesting for us too, in terms of the championship.”
Arguably the most exciting element of the changes is the Feature Race’s move to a Sunday, directly before the Formula 1 Grand Prix.
“Having the feature race on Sunday is cool,” added Piastri. “It is the biggest race, so it makes sense to have it on the Sunday before F1. I am now a fan of the format and I think it provided some exciting racing.”