Disappointed on Saturday, undeniable on Sunday, Isack Hadjar rebounded from the setback of losing the Sprint Race win in Melbourne to stand on the top step in the Feature.

The Campos Racing driver was able to take advantage of the opportunity presented to him via a Safety Car following a crash for MP Motorsport’s Dennis Hauger, but the job was only half done.

From there, he had five crucial laps that ultimately won him the race, but how did the Red Bull Junior Team driver put himself in the position to win from eighth on the grid?


After the drama of the start in the Sprint, there was another close call for Hadjar on the opening lap. Roman Stanek was sent spinning by Zak O’Sullivan at Turn 3, just to the left of the Campos driver at corner entry.

An aggressive start from Oliver Bearman got the PREMA Racing driver ahead of Hadjar at Turns 9 and 10, though the Campos driver got back through to retake eighth at Turn 11 right away.

By Lap 5, those on the supersoft tyres were beginning to fade. Involved in an on-track battle with teammate Josep María Martí and Richard Verschoor, the gap to leader Hauger grew from 4.7s to 6.7s in the space of two laps.

A Virtual Safety Car, deployed to recover the PHM AIX Racing car of Joshua Duerksen, allowed the field to extend their first stint on the purple-marked tyres a few extra laps. Having lost the lead to Kush Maini, Hauger was the first to box for a mandatory pitstop at the end of Lap 9, followed in by Andrea Kimi Antonelli, Paul Aron, Zane Maloney, Verschoor and Martí.

READ MORE: Antonelli taking positives but disappointed to miss out on Melbourne Feature Race podium

The lead MP driver crashed at Turn 6 on his outlap and brought out the full Safety Car, but not before Hadjar dived into the pitlane for his mandatory stop and switched to Mediums.

The Campos driver came out in seventh, ahead of those that pitted the lap prior, effectively in the race lead with only those yet to stop ahead of him.


Hadjars stint on the medium tyres made his race passing cars in quick order at the restart
Hadjar's stint on the medium tyres made his race, passing cars in quick order at the restart

On the first green flag lap back underway, Hadjar passed Taylor Barnard at Turn 9 while Antonelli was fighting with Aron just behind him.

One lap later and Hadjar was through on Enzo Fittipaldi for fifth position at the same corner, with two drivers then between the Campos and his closest challenger Antonelli on the same strategy.

After working his way into DRS range of Stanek, the French driver passed the Trident to take fourth position on Lap 20, while Antonelli lost position to Aron as both finally made their way by Barnard.

Fittipaldi and Stanek’s fighting meant that by the time Aron finally cleared the Trident driver for fifth on Lap 24, Hadjar was 5.2s up the road and gradually closing in on the three leaders yet to pit in Kush Maini, Juan Manuel Correa and Jak Crawford.

Antonelli’s struggles to clear traffic were beginning to show up in other ways. Having lost track position to Aron, he dropped behind Maloney on Lap 25 as he was struggling with his tyre drop off after running in the turbulent wake of rivals ahead for so long.


Hadjars Melbourne win was his first Feature Race win and his second in Formula 2
Hadjar's Melbourne win was his first Feature Race win and his second in Formula 2

With Aron now in free air to pursue Hadjar, the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver began to whittle away at the gap between himself and the Campos ahead.

Unfortunately for the Estonian, after he was able to close the gap by a few tenths per lap, it wasn’t enough. With the gap at 5.3s on Lap 26, he cut the deficit to 4.5s with five laps remaining.

Hadjar responded on Lap 29 to reinforce a comfortable buffer to just shy of five seconds, a sign that he still had plenty left in his Medium tyres despite the high levels of degradation seen across the Melbourne weekend.

Crawford and Maini finally pitted at the end of Lap 31, handing the lead back to Hadjar for the final two laps. In the end, the Red Bull junior crossed the line 4.4s clear of Aron to take his first win of the season and maiden Feature Race success.

READ MORE: Miyata praises ‘supportive’ Rodin after scoring P5 finish in Melbourne Feature Race Having been able to clear the traffic in quick order after the resumption of racing following the Safety Car, Hadjar kept his tyres in better condition than those who were chasing him down.

While his track position advantage came about by a well-timed Safety Car for Campos, the job was far from done. With Aron looking strong to start the 2024 campaign, the result was far from assured, but Hadjar’s good work at the restart gave him the upper hand in the fight for victory.

By making important moves in quick order, while those behind were stuck in the traffic for longer, he was able to manage the tyre situation and return from the setback of the day before.

Antonelli’s struggles after looking very quick across the weekend and in the opening stint of the Feature Race in particular, demonstrate the importance of making moves fast. Hadjar’s experience of the Pirelli tyres shone in Melbourne, as did his wheel-to-wheel prowess on Sunday, carving his way through when it counted most.