After being disqualified from the Spielberg Feature Race victory this time last year, there was no denying Richard Verschoor this time as he claimed the top spot. On the alternative strategy from 11th, the Dutch driver gave the fans in orange plenty to cheer for, securing Van Amersfoort Racing’s first win in FIA Formula 2.
Ayumu Iwasa put on another stellar charge of his own to beat out Championship rival Frederik Vesti for second, with the PREMA Racing driver rounding out the podium.
AS IT HAPPENED
From second on the grid, Vesti got the better launch at lights out, immediately snatching the lead from polesitter Victor Martins. The ART driver also lost out to teammate Théo Pourchaire by Turn 1, and his early struggles continued.
Kush Maini went very late on the brakes to take third from the Frenchman in Turn 3. However, both swiftly lost out as Jack Doohan moved his Invicta Virtuosi Racing past the pair at the following corner.
After making up five places alone on the opening lap, Iwasa was up to ninth on Lap 6. Amaury Cordeel squeezed Dennis Hauger onto the grass exiting Turn 1, leaving the door wide open for Iwasa to overtake them both.
Martins eventually repaid the favour on Maini, repassing the Campos Racing driver for third on Lap 8. Maini lost two places in two corners, with the soft-running Enzo Fittipaldi also clearing him for fifth.
Pourchaire was the first of the leading pack in for his mandatory stop on Lap 8, followed in by Maini and Jehan Daruvala. Doohan and Martins swiftly joined them in a lap later, whilst Vesti extended his opening stint for another lap before handing the lead over to Fittipaldi.
Out front, the Rodin Carlin driver steadily began building a gap to Verschoor. Fighting over eighth on the road, Doohan had caught Pourchaire and dived up the inside of Turn 3, the Frenchman unable to keep him behind.
Arthur Leclerc and Oliver Bearman were both in for supersofts on Lap 27. While the PREMA Racing driver rejoined at the tail end of the order in 18th, the Monégasque driver was forced to pull off to the side of the track shortly after his pitstop, triggering a Virtual Safety Car.
Converted to a full Safety Car on Lap 29 the alternate strategy runners capitalised, with Verschoor completing his mandatory stop and coming out in fifth. Race leader Fittipaldi opted to pit one lap later, dropping him back to ninth.
Racing resumed on Lap 33, and it was clear that Verschoor had made the right call. Exploiting his fresh tyres, he passed both ARTs of Martins and Pourchaire to climb to third.
A brief VSC to recover Maini’s Campos after he sustained contact at the restart was withdrawn, and the supersoft runners were on the move again with four laps to go. Bearman found his way through on Martins up the hill for sixth before passing Pourchaire at Turn 4 to claim fifth.
Out front, Vesti was just about keeping Doohan, Verschoor and Iwasa behind. The Australian was the first to lose out to the #22 VAR driver, and Vesti soon followed. Out of Turn 3, Verschoor got the switchback he needed to take the lead from the PREMA driver into Turn 4.
Iwasa then picked off Vesti, setting up a final lap battle between the VAR and DAMS drivers for victory. Verschoor defended where he needed to and held on for a popular win in front of legions of Dutch fans. Iwasa crossed the line second having started from 16th and Vesti rounded out the podium places in third.
Doohan brought home 12 points in fourth, as Bearman turned his weekend around with a fightback to fifth. Fittipaldi had to settle for sixth ahead of Pourchaire, Jak Crawford, Victor Martins and Jehan Daruvala, who claimed the last point on offer in 10th for MP Motorsport.
KEY QUOTE – Richard Verschoor, Van Amersfoort Racing
“Just won the race from P11. It was an amazing one, especially the last few laps were a good fight with Iwasa. It was super nice, also very happy for the team. I cannot wait to get to Silverstone next week.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
Frederik Vesti’s hold on the top of the Drivers’ Championship continues for a third consecutive round, as the PREMA Racing driver extended his lead to 20 points. Théo Pourchaire remains in second on 105 points, whilst Ayumu Iwasa closes to within four points of the Frenchman in third. Oliver Bearman is the leading rookie in fourth on 81, as victory promotes Richard Verschoor to fifth on 75 points.
PREMA Racing have broken the 200-point barrier, as they go 43 points clear of ART Grand Prix on 206. DAMS remain third, now on 137 points, ahead of Rodin Carlin in fourth on 105.
The 2023 grid are straight back in action next weekend, as Formula 2 heads to the legendary Silverstone circuit from July 7-9.