Hitech Grand Prix’s Marcus Armstrong controlled the Sprint Race from Imola to take his first victory of the 2022 FIA Formula 2 season.
The New Zealand driver made a strong start to the race from second position and progressed into the lead on the run to the first braking zone. From there, he went unchallenged and crossed the line in first place.
Behind him, the PREMA Racing duo of Jehan Daruvala and Dennis Hauger took the final spots on the podium, despite Hauger having a loose bodywork scare throughout the latter stages. Nevertheless, the reigning FIA Formula 3 Champion held on to open up his podium-finishing account in 2022.
AS IT HAPPENED
Carlin’s Logan Sargeant started from reverse grid pole position, however the Williams Racing academy member struggled to get away from the line.
His slow start allowed Armstrong to slip through into the lead, and the American was further swallowed up by his rivals, falling back to fifth place by the end of the opening lap.
Although those at the front managed to keep it clean, the same could not be said for the mid-pack group. David Beckmann spun on the opening lap, with Clément Novalak unable to avoid the Charouz Racing System driver and picking up front wing damage.
Beckmann retired from the race, joining Amaury Cordeel on the sidelines after the Belgian racer crashed on his way to the grid prior to the start of the race.
A Safety Car intervention was called for the stranded Charouz, with Armstrong judging the restart perfectly and escaping from the clutches of Daruvala behind. Daruvala, in turn, was being hounded by his teammate Hauger, however the Norwegian driver couldn’t find a way past his Red Bull junior stable mate.
Ralph Boschung became the latest retirement on Lap 9, as he was forced to pull over at the side of the track with a problem. A virtual Safety Car was called, the ending of which saw Daruvala close further up to the back of race-leader Armstrong.
In the final laps however, Daruvala couldn’t pass Armstrong and was forced to settle for second on the road. With Hauger third, DAMS’ Roy Nissany took his best result of the season in fourth.
Felipe Drugovich crossed the line in fifth after making an overtake on Logan Sargeant on the penultimate lap of the race. Théo Pourchaire was seventh for ART Grand Prix, while Liam Lawson took the final point on offer in eighth place.
There was late jostling for position further back, with Frederik Vesti moving past Jack Doohan for 10th, settling in behind ninth-placed Ayumu Iwasa at the chequered flag.
KEY QUOTE – Marcus Armstrong (Hitech Grand Prix)
“I finally got that race win. It was a tough one, I didn’t have radio for the entire race. The VSC was really difficult, I was having to watch the TV and see when the Safety Car was ending.
“That was really stressful. But luckily, I got away with it. There was a TV when it went green, so perfect! The rest of the race was smooth sailing, but I had a fast Jehan Daruvala following me. It wasn’t that easy.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP VIEW
In the Drivers’ Championship, Felipe Drugovich holds the lead of the standings, sitting on 49. Behind him is Lawson on 35, who is closely followed by Daruvala on 33 points.
In the Teams’ Championship, Hitech Grand Prix has 60 points to its name in first place, holding a narrow advantage over MP Motorsport on 49. Carlin and PREMA and third and fourth respectively, both on 47 points.
After taking a win with Armstrong on Saturday, Hitech Grand Prix will be hoping for more glory on Sunday in the Feature Race, with Jüri Vips leading the pack from pole position. The race is scheduled to get underway at 10:20 local time.