With five returning drivers all scoring wins across the opening six races, it was high time a rookie made their presence known on the top step. Greeted by the demanding Baku City Circuit, a dauntless Oliver Bearman set out kick his season into gear and ultimately, wrote his name into the Formula 2 history books in the process.

The PREMA Racing driver entered the weekend with only two points-scoring finishes to his name, after getting tangled up in trouble in Jeddah and Melbourne. Back with a vengeance, Bearman’s name never left the top of the board, going fastest in both Practice and Qualifying, before snatching consecutive victories in the Sprint and Feature Races.

Qualifying proved to be nothing short of a rollercoaster for the Briton. Setting the pace after an early Red Flag, he and Kush Maini put the rookies out in front, before MP Motorsport’s Dennis Hauger took his turn in the top stop.

As drivers vied for track position and the benefit of the all-powerful tow, Frederik Vesti slotted into provisional pole in the final minutes, as his teammate Bearman brushed the barriers at the exit of Turn 2.

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Undeterred by his bent steering, the Ferrari Academy junior emerged fastest with a 1:52.652 as the chequered flag was flown, forcing Rodin Carlin’s Enzo Fittipaldi to settle for second ahead of Théo Pourchaire.

Finding himself on reverse grid pole for the Sprint Race, Richard Verschoor was unable to capitalise after contact with the wall at the opening corner forced the Van Amersfoort Racing driver into an early retirement. Fellow front row starter Zane Maloney’s race also unravelled off the line, as he and Victor Martins banged wheels, resulting in a right rear puncture for the Bajan driver.

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Assuming the lead from sixth on the grid, Hauger swiftly had to navigate the first of two Safety Car restarts on Lap 6, after Ralph Boschung clipped the wall at Turn 11. Leaving it late as possible, the Norwegian fended off Martins and tried to pull himself out of the ART Grand Prix driver’s clutches.

Rapidly climbing through the order from ninth, Bearman dispatched Pourchaire and Hitech Pulse Eight’s Jak Crawford on consecutive laps. Meanwhile, Vesti in the #7 PREMA sliced his way past Jehan Daruvala for third. This left the door open for his teammate to follow through, utilising the advantage of DRS along the main straight.

The race turned on its head as Roy Nissany found the wall on the approach to Turn 15, necessitating a return of the Safety Car. Primed for a three-lap dash for the line, chaos began to unfold.

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Struggling for grip on their medium tyres, six cars were eliminated at the restart. Firstly, both Hauger and Martins hit the barriers at Turn 1. Left with no room to take evasive action, Daruvala collided with the underneath of the #6 ART Grand Prix car.

Behind them Pourchaire and Arthur Leclerc ran wide into the run-off and out of the points, whilst Invicta Virtuosi Racing’s Jack Doohan locked up and spun.

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Avoiding getting caught up in the pileup, Vesti found himself promoted to the lead but had Bearman looming large in his mirrors. A mistake for the Dane saw him run wide at Turn 4 and the Briton pounced, snatching the lead moments before a third and final Safety Car.

Concluding behind the Safety Car, Bearman became the second youngest winner in the Championship's history, helping PREMA Racing to bring home their first 1-2 finish of the season ahead of Crawford.

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Lining up in P1 for Sunday’s Feature Race, Bearman controlled the pace off the line as Fittipaldi and Pourchaire duelled over second. Benefitting from the tow, the Frenchman slid past the Rodin Carlin driver for second before snatching the lead on Lap 3.

However, the PREMA driver didn’t give in, repaying the favour to regain the lead into Turn 1 the following lap. Crawford also got the job done, dispatching fellow Red Bull junior Hauger up the inside of Turn 3 for sixth.

Vesti kicked off the run of mandatory pit stops, swapping out his purple-walled supersoft tyres for mediums on Lap 7, followed in by Daruvala, Leclerc and Boschung. Fittipaldi and Martins immediately responded, with Bearman and Pourchaire opting for one more lap.

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Emerging in front of the initial stoppers, the Briton remained in the net race lead. Alternative strategy runners Isack Hadjar and Ayumu Iwasa promoted to the front of the field, as the Virtual Safety Car made a brief appearance after Brad Benavides found the barriers at Turn 4.

Steadily making up ground lost following the pitstops, Vesti cleared Hauger and Kush Maini to progress up to seventh on Lap 14.

Narrowly avoiding scraping the wall at Turn 15 across several laps, Bearman began to drop Pourchaire, edging out a 2.3s gap by Lap 20. This left the Sauber junior vulnerable to a chasing Fittipaldi behind. A run of fastest laps put the Brazilian right on his tail and with DRS into Turn 3, the Red Bull junior swept around the outside to snatch the inside line for Turn 4 and with it, fourth on the road.

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Four laps to go and it was finally time for Iwasa to head into the pits, promoting Bearman back into the lead. Sailing to the line, the 17-year-old broke new ground with the first clean sweep in Formula 2’s modern era. Fittipaldi earned his first trip to the podium of the season in second, with Pourchaire completing the rostrum after resisting late pressure from his ART teammate Martins.

A third podium of the campaign promoted Pourchaire back into the lead of the Drivers’ Championship on 65 points, two points ahead of Vesti. Unable to score across the Azerbaijani weekend, Iwasa dropped to third on 58.

Back-to-back victories rocketed Bearman up from 16th to fourth and pushed PREMA Racing over the 100-point barrier and they headed into the European leg of the 2023 campaign in the lead of the Teams’ Standings on 103. DAMS moved up to second on 92, after Martins was disqualified for a technical infringement.