Carlin’s Liam Lawson kept his cool in an action-packed Sprint Race at Jeddah to take his first Formula 2 win of the season and his third consecutive podium finish. The New Zealander overcame three Safety Car restarts to win out over Hitech Grand Prix’s Jüri Vips and Van Amersfoort Racing’s Jake Hughes.
Starting from second, Hughes had gambled on the soft Pirellis and led for periods of the race before eventually yielding to Lawson and Vips, who were both on mediums.
Hughes hung on for third as Felipe Drugovich made up six places from 10th to fourth. Trident’s Calan Williams also led for a short portion of the afternoon but had fallen to fifth by the chequered flag after struggling for pace at the end.
Williams’ Trident teammate Richard Verschoor finished in sixth ahead of DAMS’ Ayumu Iwasa and Campos Racing’s Ralph Boschung.
AS IT HAPPENED
Dennis Hauger had been promoted to reverse grid pole after Virtuosi Racing’s Jack Doohan was disqualified from Qualifying and the PREMA Racing driver gave an excellent demonstration on how to get away on the mediums.
Hughes’ reaction time wasn’t as quick as the Van Amersfoort Racing driver got bogged down from second on the soft tyres and lost a place to Williams. An early Safety Car then brought a halt to the action after Amaury Cordeel lost control of his Van Amersfoort and collided with the wall.
Fourteen laps remained when action resumed and Hauger launched back off into the lead, with Williams and Hughes in tow. Lawson managed to scamper ahead of Iwasa before a second Safety Car was required, this time because of a collision at the back between Doohan and Logan Sargeant.
As the Safety Car was called back out, Hauger went through the pitlane. Re-joining in 12th, the PREMA racing driver had been the only driver to do so and was later handed a 10s stop-and-go penalty for entering the pit lane when closed.
Hauger followed Bernd Mayländer into the pits on Lap 14 to serve his 10s stop-and-go penalty as Williams took up the lead of the race. But the Trident had Hughes for company and the Van Amersfoort racer sent it down the inside for P1.
Lawson followed Hughes through for second as Williams’ defensive efforts proved in vain. Meanwhile, Hauger had returned from the pits in last place.
Vips succeeded in an audacious double overtake of his teammate Marcus Armstrong and DAMS’ Iwasa for fourth, before reeling in Williams to steal the final podium spot.
Hughes was struggling on the mediums, and this allowed Lawson to easily pass him down the main straight for the lead. Now hanging on to second, Hughes had a three-second buffer between himself and Vips in third before another Safety Car closed the gap, this time after Armstrong had spun his Hitech on track and lost the engine.
Only one lap remained when racing resumed and Williams lost out again at the restart, dropping to fifth behind Drugovich, while Vips began to chase down Hughes. The Briton did his best to hang on, but the Hitech clawed his way in front during a drag race to the finish line.
Verschoor had mugged Iwasa for sixth during the restart, with Boschung taking the final points’ place behind them.
KEY QUOTE – LIAM LAWSON (CARLIN)
“We managed to survive the first 70% of the race and we were running in third during the second restart. I was able to grab the lead in the last couple of laps.
“The car was really, really fast, so a massive thank you to Carlin and everybody. Hopefully we can do something similar tomorrow.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP VIEW
Lawson now leads the Drivers’ Championship on 34 points, with Vips in second on 27 and Pourchaire third with 25. Drugovich is fourth with 19 points, ahead of Boschung in fifth with 18.
In the Teams’ Championship, Carlin are first with 43 points, ahead of Hitech on 37 and ART on 25. MP Motorsport are fourth with 19 points and Campos fifth with 18.
After taking pole in Friday’s qualifying session, Drugovich will start from first place in Sunday’s Feature Race at 4.35pm local time.