Frederik Vesti claimed a commanding Feature Race victory in Monte Carlo and the lead of the Drivers’ Championship with it. The PREMA Racing driver led every lap of Sunday’s event after a Safety Car and Red Flag to take his second victory of the 2023 season.
Théo Pourchaire crossed the line second after teammate Victor Martins was handed a mid-race drive-through penalty. Zane Maloney rounded out the podium in third position for Rodin Carlin, his second podium of the year.
AS IT HAPPENED
Vesti maintained the lead from lights out, but Pourchaire had to defend third from a fast-starting Jack Doohan into Turn 1. Isack Hadjar squeezed his way past Jehan Daruvala for P9 on the way up the hill to make up a place in the initial phase.
Starting on the option tyres, Oliver Bearman made great progress in the first few corners from 16th on the grid. A move at the Turn 6 hairpin earned him 13th position from Clément Novalak and he wasn’t done there. Into Turn 12, a dive to the inside of Amaury Cordeel gave him P12 on a busy opening lap for the PREMA Racing man.
Daruvala was the first from the top 10 to make their mandatory stop, swapping supersofts for softs and rejoining in 16th place. Juan Manuel Correa also pitted, releasing Bearman who had been cooped up behind the Van Amersfoort Racing #23.
Iwasa and Hadjar were in from P8 and P9 on Lap 13 for their stops, while Bearman pitted on Lap 15 and rejoined the circuit ahead of Iwasa. The DAMS was right on his gearbox though and into the Turn 5 hairpin, the Japanese driver dived to the inside to make a crucial pass.
Enzo Fittipaldi’s race came to an end on Lap 19, with the Rodin Carlin pulling to the side of the track at Turn 12, bringing out the Virtual Safety Car. The VSC was withdrawn on Lap 21 to get back to racing with Vesti leading Martins by 5.2s.
That advantage was swiftly wiped away after Doohan hit the barriers at Turn 4 on Lap 22, resulting in a Safety Car. That brought the leaders in for their mandatory stops. Vesti rejoined in the lead with Martins second and Pourchaire third. Maloney managed to narrowly avoid Doohan’s stricken car on the racing line and made his mandatory stop along with Verschoor in fourth and fifth places.
Dennis Hauger was a big winner, making his mandatory stop and serving a five-second time penalty for gaining an advantage on the opening lap by cutting the track. The Norwegian rejoined in P6. Kush Maini, Roman Stanek, Jak Crawford and Iwasa completed the top 10 just as the Red Flag was thrown on Lap 24 in order to complete barrier repairs.
The race got back underway with a rolling restart entering Lap 27 as Vesti held the lead from the pair of battling ARTs behind. That battle was changed entirely after Martins was assigned a drive-through penalty for failing to slow under yellow flags behind the Safety Car. He was in to serve the sanction on Lap 31, coming back out in P8.
Following the Red Flag, the race went to time and Vesti completed Lap 33 to win the Monte Carlo Feature Race by 2.5s from Pourchaire.
Maloney finished a lonely third on the road ahead of Richard Verschoor in fourth, with Hauger an impressive fifth having started from 17th on the grid. Maini secured more points in P6 ahead of Stanek, who made up 15 places for Trident. Martins, Crawford and Iwasa in rounded out the top 10.
KEY QUOTE – Frederik Vesti, PREMA Racing
“P1 in the Feature Race in Monaco. What a day this is and what a weekend, pole position as well which is nice! We are leading the Championship as well, which is also nice. I want to thank Mercedes and PREMA for the support, the car is mega. Now, it’s time to keep pushing, we have a race weekend already next week in Barcelona. Let’s continue the form and continue pushing.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
Vesti’s victory moves him to the top of the Drivers’ Championship, rising to 89 points. Pourchaire stays within touching distance, now on 84 points in second. Iwasa falls to third having led the standings ahead of the Feature Race. The DAMS driver now has 69 points. Kush Maini remains as the highest-placed rookie so far this year, climbing to 49 points, one ahead of Dennis Hauger who is now fifth.
PREMA Racing extends its lead in the Teams’ Standings, now on 130 points. ART Grand Prix moves up to second with 108 points while DAMS is now third on 103.
FIA Formula 2 returns right away with Round 7 from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain from 2-4 June.