Oliver Bearman claimed his second Feature Race win of the season from pole position in Barcelona. The PREMA Racing man drove a measured race on the conventional strategy, clearing traffic in a critical middle phase of the race to secure the top spot.
Enzo Fittipaldi finished second for Rodin Carlin. The Brazilian had been challenging Bearman earlier in the race but had to hold off a late charge from Victor Martins, who took back-to-back podiums in third for ART Grand Prix.
AS IT HAPPENED
Bearman immediately covered off Fittipaldi at lights out but that allowed Ayumu Iwasa to put them three-wide into the first corner. It was the Rodin Carlin driver that ran out of road at Turn 2, skipping across the runoff area to re-join in second.
Théo Pourchaire was able to take advantage of the baulked momentum of those ahead of him, repassing the DAMS driver for third at Turn 4. Jack Doohan moved up to fourth with a bold move on Iwasa, going around the outside of Turn 10 and sealing it at Turn 12.
Pourchaire and Iwasa were the first of the leaders in for their mandatory pitstops on Lap 10. They swapped to the hard tyres and rejoined in the same order they entered, down in 17th and 18th on the road.
Fittipaldi was called in to cover off the Frenchman on the following lap and he was joined by Doohan and Dennis Hauger in the pitlane. The Brazilian rejoined ahead of Pourchaire but by less than half a second. Behind them, Iwasa was able to pass Doohan at Turn 2 with his tyres up to temperature.
On Lap 12, Pourchaire tried to sweep around the outside of Fittipaldi but ran deep at Turn 1, falling back in line behind his rival. Their battling allowed race leader Bearman to extend his first stint until Lap 14. The PREMA driver made the switch to hard compound and re-joined 3.5s clear of Fittipaldi, but that gap fell to just 0.5s by the end of the lap with the Rodin Carlin’s tyres fired up.
The duo began picking off those yet-to-stop runners still on the hard tyres, with Martins with Frederik Vesti in second yet to pit, both on the alternate strategy. Further back, Doohan made the most of DRS to pass Pourchaire into Turn 1 on Lap 18.
Vesti was in for his swap to soft tyres on Lap 25, coming back out in ninth behind Hauger. Martins relinquished the lead on the following lap, making his mandatory stop and switched to softs. The ART driver was back out in P5 ahead of teammate Pourchaire.
The PREMA driver on the alternate strategy made a bold move into Turn 1 on Hauger and a still-to-pit Zane Maloney. Going three-wide, Vesti claimed the inside and seventh position in one move. One lap later and he cleared Pourchaire into Turn 1, setting his sights on Martins ahead.
The #6 ART passed Doohan into the first corner on Lap 28 to put a car between himself and his pursuer. That was until Vesti surged around the outside of the Australian at Turn 10 later on the same lap.
Martins and Vesti closed on Iwasa and on Lap 35, the Frenchman claimed the final spot on the podium with a dive to the inside of Turn 1.
Bearman remained out of touch in front, securing his third victory of his rookie campaign ahead of Fittipaldi and Martins.
Vesti tried on consecutive laps but couldn’t find a route through on Iwasa for fourth place. Doohan secured sixth ahead of Pourchaire and Hauger. Arthur Leclerc and Richard Verschoor rounded out the top 10 places in P9 and P10.
KEY QUOTE – Oliver Bearman, PREMA Racing
“That’s another Feature Race win here in Barcelona, an amazing race! Bit scary with the strategy when I got stuck behind the guys on the opposite strategy, but we had really great pace for the whole race and brought it home. Really happy for the team and we brought it home. On to Austria.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
Vesti retains the lead of the Drivers’ Championship, extending his lead over second-placed Pourchaire. The top two are now on 110 and 99 points respectively. Iwasa remains third for DAMS, up to 82 points ahead of Bearman who climbs up to fourth on 70 points. Dennis Hauger is fifth on 57.
In the Teams’ Standings, PREMA Racing remain top of the pile, now on 180 points. ART Grand Prix move onto 144 in second position with DAMS still third, now on 118.
FIA Formula 2 returns in later this month with Round 8 from Spielberg’s Red Bull Ring on 30 June - 02 July.