Ayumu Iwasa got his Championship fight back on track with Sprint Race victory on the streets of Monte Carlo. The DAMS driver inherited the lead of the race early on and never let it go, managing two Safety Car restarts to take the win by over six seconds.
Jehan Daruvala shadowed the DAMS driver throughout the 30 laps but couldn’t make a move for victory, while Jak Crawford held off Richard Verschoor for the final podium position.
AS IT HAPPENED
Isack Hadjar got the launch he needed to retain the lead at Turn 1 ahead of Iwasa and Daruvala. It was a clean opening lap until Turn 10. Whilst battling with Amaury Cordeel, Kush Maini was pitched into a spin after contact with Clément Novalak from behind, blocking the track and several drivers behind him.
The Virtual Safety Car was deployed as a result, but Roy Nissany and Ralph Boschung were out after getting caught up in the incident, unable to get going again. Novalak was later handed a 10-second time penalty. The full Safety Car was deployed on Lap 2 in order to remove the stricken cars.
Back to racing conditions on Lap 6 and Hadjar kept the lead initially but into Turn 1, the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver slowed with a mechanical issue, handing the lead to Iwasa. The DAMS man quickly moved two seconds clear of Daruvala after two laps out in front, while Hadjar was forced into early retirement.
At the halfway stage, the MP Motorsport driver was within touching distance of the race leader, 0.7s back but well within DRS range. The top two had dropped Crawford by seven seconds as the American kept Richard Verschoor at bay in the fight for the final podium place.
Enzo Fittipaldi proved that overtaking was a possibility in Monte Carlo, passing Cordeel on Lap 22 into Turn 1 with DRS assistance. The Belgian’s day was quickly made worse after contact with Juan Manuel Correa left the Invicta Virtuosi Racing driver in the barriers, requiring another Safety Car.
Iwasa got the field back underway entering Lap 24, opting to go ahead of the penultimate corner and establishing breathing room to Daruvala behind. He launched into a three second lead by the end of the lap.
The DAMS was six seconds clear entering the final tour and brought it home for his third race win of the season. Daruvala stayed second ahead of Crawford despite Verschoor’s best efforts to find a route past from fourth.
Zane Maloney finished fifth for Rodin Carlin ahead of Jack Doohan in sixth. The ART Grand Prix pair followed in the final points paying positions with Victor Martins heading home Théo Pourchaire in seventh and eighth places respectively.
KEY QUOTE – Ayumu Iwasa, DAMS
“I won the Sprint in Monaco! I’m so happy about this result but unfortunately, I had such a bad result in Qualifying yesterday. I think this is the minimum recovery after today. I just need to stay focused on tomorrow and then I will try to push hard to the end. Still, I’m so happy about this and I’ll keep pushing.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
Iwasa’s win moves him to the top of the Drivers’ Championship on 68 points, two ahead of Théo Pourchaire in second. Frederik Vesti is third on 64 points heading into Sunday’s Feature Race, starting from pole position. Oliver Bearman and Kush Maini remain fourth and fifth, still on 41 points apiece.
In the Teams’ Standings, PREMA Racing still leads with 105 points, but DAMS close the gap, climbing to 102 points in second. ART Grand Prix remains third with 85 points.
The Formula 2 Monte Carlo Feature Race gets underway on Sunday at 09:40 local time. Frederik Vesti starts from pole alongside Martins with Pourchaire going from third.