ART Grand Prix’s Théo Pourchaire has taken his second race victory in the 2022 FIA Formula 2 Championship, as he prevailed over the competition in a frantic outing at Imola.
Pourchaire started the race on the super soft tyre from seventh on the grid and made his pit stop early on. The Frenchman stayed out of trouble throughout the remaining laps to take the chequered flag behind the Safety Car.
Enzo Fittipaldi sensationally blitzed through the field from 15th on the grid to second place, as he captured his maiden podium in F2.
Behind the Charouz Racing System driver was Ralph Boschung, who managed to claim the final spot on the podium. It marked the Swiss driver’s third career rostrum finish in F2, and his first of the current campaign.
AS IT HAPPENED
Jüri Vips headed the field from pole position as the lights went out, however it was Roy Nissany from sixth on the grid who took the lead into Turn 2, ahead of fellow fast-starter Boschung.
Behind, there was instant contact between 2021 Formula 3 title rivals Dennis Hauger and Jack Doohan, as both drivers jostled for the same piece of track. Damage was inflicted on both cars, and the duo were forced to retire from the event.
A Safety Car was called to clean up Hauger’s stricken car, but no sooner had it disappeared, it was called upon again as pole-sitter Jüri Vips crashed on the exit of Turn 6 after running wide, ending his chances of a recovery following his slow getaway at the race start.
When the second Safety Car of the race was called, a series of drivers including Nissany, Boschung, Pourchaire and Fittipaldi peeled into the pit lane to switch to the medium compound tyres.
PREMA Racing’s Jehan Daruvala, who ended Saturday’s Sprint Race in second place, was the new race leader on the medium tyres, and held the front-running position for over 20 laps until his own pit stop on the alternate strategy.
With all the cars in front of him yet to make a pit stop, Nissany looked to be in a strong position to take his first win in F2 after having his own service in the pit lane. However, a mistake out of the final corner saw the Israeli driver lose control of his car and hit the wall, leaving the DAMS’ man eliminated from contention.
The incident placed Pourchaire as the leading driver of those who pitted, and when the drivers who started on the medium tyres cycled through their stops, Pourchaire emerged in the lead of the race.
As the laps ticked down, the battles for position were not over, with Boschung and Logan Sargeant scrapping for what would be a net second place. Sargeant moved ahead of Boschung, but soon dropped down the order moments after taking the position.
Fittipaldi, who was following behind, managed to move ahead of both Boschung and Sargeant and into second place. His position was made safe when Liam Lawson crashed on lap 32, forcing another Safety Car which ran all the way to the chequered flag.
With Boschung third, Clément Novalak’s early pit stop also proved to be beneficial, as he took the chequered flag in fourth, ahead of Ayumu Iwasa. Frederick Vesti was sixth in the second ART Grand Prix car, while Sargeant fell to seventh by the end of the race.
David Beckmann, who is on substitute duties this weekend for Charouz, was eighth, leading Daruvala and Felipe Drugovich who took the final points on offer.
KEY QUOTE – Theo Pourchaire (ART Grand Prix)
“I’m really happy about this win, I was not expecting that, but the pace was good, the start was good, the pitstop was good, everything was good. A big thanks to ART, the Sauber Academy, and all my family for all the hard work. Second Feature Race win of the year, it feels very good!”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP VIEW
In the Drivers’ Championship, Pourchaire has taken the lead of the standings on 52 points, with Drugovich sitting close behind him on 50. In third is Daruvala, who has 36 points to his name.
In the Teams’ Championship, MP Motorsport heads the teams on 62, holding a narrow lead over ART Grand Prix and Hitech Grand Prix in second and third, who both have 60 points.
Formula 2 will return in just under a months’ time for the fourth round of the season at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain, which will run from May 20 – 22.