In one of the most important race weekends of the season, Frederik Vesti won out against title rival Théo Pourchaire to secure Feature Race victory in Monte Carlo. The PREMA Racing driver edged the Qualifying battle in a closely-contested fight with the Frenchman to secure the most important pole of the season.

Ayumu Iwasa lost further ground to his rivals, cut adrift in third, while rookie Kush Maini continued his impressive start to life in Formula 2, claiming yet another Feature Race point-scoring result to climb to fourth in the Standings.

Qualifying was incredibly tight, with the traditional split into Groups A and B meaning that those in the second group had a better chance of taking pole position. Despite that, Victor Martins put in a hugely impressive performance to go within two-tenths of the ultimate pace, topping the first group by 0.2s to Invicta Virtuosi Racing’s Jack Doohan.

With a 1:21.231 to beat, Vesti and Pourchaire stepped up to the plate and after the first flying laps, the latter had the better time though neither had beaten Martins’ earlier effort. Pourchaire headed the way with a 1:21.630 though Vesti had more time to find, and answered back on his next attempt before the ART driver stole the top spot back.

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With five minutes to go and just over a tenth of a second to find to knock Martins off the top, Vesti saved his best for last, stamping his authority on the season with an emphatic 1:21.053 for pole, a time Pourchaire couldn’t beat as he ended up 0.052s down on the PREMA and pole.

On Saturday, it was rookie Isack Hadjar that had the coveted pole spot and reverse grid P1. He held the lead at the start ahead of Iwasa before an opening lap clash between Kush Maini and Clément Novalak resulted in a Safety Car.

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Hadjar’s early joy was short-lived at the restart, as the Frenchman coasted to a halt with a broken driveshaft. Iwasa inherited the lead on Lap 6 as the Hitech driver cruised back to the pits and into retirement.

The DAMS driver was commanding after that, building up an almost seven second lead by the chequered flag after 24 faultless laps for his third race victory of the campaign. His Sprint victory lifted him up to first in the Championship prior to the Feature Race. Jehan Daruvala was second for MP Motorsport in what was his first podium since Jeddah, while Jak Crawford profited from his teammate’s misfortune to claim his third consecutive P3 finish in Sprint Races.

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Come Sunday, Vesti was the one in control as he held off the ART threat from behind to hold the lead from pole. Martins headed Pourchaire in pursuit with Jack Doohan and Zane Maloney following in P4 and five.

A string of fastest laps by the Dane got him out of DRS range of Martins as the PREMA driver stretched his lead in the opening 10 laps. That pattern continued throughout the first stint as Vesti extended his advantage to a comfortable Z seconds until a Safety Car intervention.

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Doohan spun in his Virtuosi car cresting the hill into Casino Square and hit the barriers heavily. The Australian was out of the car unharmed, but the smoky wreck needed clearing away and barriers replacing, bringing out the Red Flags. Just prior to the stoppage, the leaders took advantage to make their mandatory stops.

Back underway with a rolling start entering Lap 27, Vesti set about restoring his advantage over Martins and Pourchaire as the top three broke clear of the chasing pack. The leader’s job was made easier after Martins was hit with a drive-through penalty, deemed to have not slowed sufficiently for yellow flags after Doohan’s shunt.

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He was in on Lap 31 to serve the sanction, leaving Pourchaire to close down Vesti’s 2.6s lead for the win. With the Safety Car intervention and Red Flag stoppage, the race didn’t go for the full 42 laps as scheduled, instead going to time.

Despite his best efforts, Vesti was comfortable in front, extending his advantage ahead to over three seconds by the time the chequered flag waived. It was a critical moment for Vesti as he assumed the lead of the Drivers’ Championship ahead of Pourchaire and Iwasa.

Maloney took his first podium since the opening Feature Race of the year in Sakhir, finishing his F2 debut weekend in Monaco third. Martins’ penalty dropped him from the podium places down to eighth.