Race 1: Verschoor runs away with the Sprint Race.
Grid Start: 1) Drugovich; 2) Verschoor; 3) Hughes; 4) Daruvala; 5) Lawson; 6) Boschung; 7) Sargeant; 8) Vips; 9) Pourchaire; 10) Doohan
There was little time but much reason to celebrate for the Dutch youngster at his second F2 win and his Trident team, finally jumping on the top spot of the podium in F2’s modern era. Richard Verschoor got off to a perfect start from the reverse-grid front row to grab a lead he would maintain undisturbed throughout. That is despite two physical and virtual Safety Cars disrupting the race, but not his momentum.
Two seconds behind him at the line came Jehan Daruvala, involved in an intense race-long duel – one I’d recommend to find on the Net – with Ralph Boschung, until the Swiss had to yield to a DRS issue and settle for 4th, much to his audible frustration. Taking advantage from said issue was Liam Lawson, also a star performer with his remarkable long defence from Drugovich.
The Brazilian went from Pole to 6th place at the start and then couldn’t exploit his good pace, unable to find the right move to get rid of Lawson, and in the end only recovered one place to Pourchaire’s technical failure. With a bit more racecraft, the Brazilian could perhaps have set off for the 2nd place fight.
In 6th place, a noteworthy debut for Logan Sargeant, yielding three places at the start but later swift to get past Doohan and then Vips as soon as the two lost pace. With Formula 1 so keen – even desperate, we could say – to find a valuable American competitor, the Carlin driver is one to keep a watchful eye on.
Juri Vips seemed on for a promising race after a solid start and showing the pace needed to fight for the top 5, but following a mesmerising overtake into turn 1 against Sargeant, getting stuck in the Lawson-Drugovich scrap didn’t do his tyres any good and dropped him back into the American’s clutches. Hitech Racing’s Estonian driver had to settle for a somewhat disappointing couple of points.
Noticeable mentions: DAMS’ Japanese driver Ayumu Iwasa somehow managed to climb from last to 8th – round of applause for him – ; Prema’s Dennis Hauger went from 15th up to 9th: no points but still a lot of praise for the Norwegian.
Lastly, Jack Doohan looked ready to follow up on Friday’s pole-setting momentum, but his pace dropped away in the final stages and he fell from 7th down to 10th, while title contender Theo Pourchaire was firmly in the top-five fight until being hit by a technical gremlin – not a rarity in this series, despite the spec engine – and forced to retire.
Race 2: Pourchaire delivers amid chaotic pitstops
Grid: 1) Doohan; 2) Pourchaire; 3) Vips; 4) Sargeant; 5) Boschung; 6) Lawson; 7) Daruvala; 8) Hughes; 9) Verschoor; 10) Drugovich
The 18-year old Frenchman wasted no time to redeem the Sprint-race withdrawal, taking a first win of his title-favourite season at the second attempt on Sunday morning. He couldn’t equate Boschung and Vips’ blistering launches and slipped to 4th on the opening lap, only to then jump the Estonian – hampered by the first of many botched pit-stops that marred the race – and undercut ahead of Jack Doohan. From then on, Pourchaire was untouchable: even a last-lap Safety Car restart did not bother him in any way, shape or form.
A solid 2nd place was snatched by Liam Lawson to add to his previous podium: the New-Zealander did not have the most spectacular of races, but was calm, collected, ran a pretty orthodox Prime-Option strategy and made it work with no scares. Thus, he could profit from Doohan and Vips’ mishaps to leave Bahrain one point shy of Pourchaire’s championship lead. Talking of Doohan, the Aussie was fighting for the lead when a contact with Pourchaire’s right-rear tyre while trying to prevent the latter’s undercut forced him to replace his front wing. He was left out of any contention until the late SC put him back in the mix and allowed him to take one point. He leaves with just three points on the table but much promise displayed.
Third-placed Vips had the second-best launch of anyone in the race, held the lead in the opening stint and arguably had the pace to win largely, but was the first of three or more drivers facing issues at tyre change. He rejoined virtually in 5th but his pace was such that he could recover a podium position even before the final SC. That yellow came in very handy for Ralph Boschung, allowing him to snatch 4th place from Drugovich. It was a deserved result for a standout driver of the weekend: the Swiss’ start on Sunday was impressive, but his race pace was not enough to let him fight for the podium. Still a couple of remarkable results for an underdog team like Campos.
Marcus Armstrong was a welcome surprise from Bahrain: after a couple of disappointing seasons, the new Hitech driver seems to have finally clicked with F2, or at least that’s what Race 2 would suggest. At Hitech they’ve shown they can handle two cars fairly well, so it could be a season full of opportunities for the former Ferrari junior member.
Ayumu Iwasa once again deserves a very noticeable mention, managing a spectacular climb from 22nd up to 7th with his reverse strategy (the Japanese was the one who made the Option tyre work better), before a mechanical gremlin at the final restart condemned him to a net zero. Without his qualifying error and said failure, the DAMS driver could have racked up much more than a single point from a staggering weekend.
Written by Daniele Leocata
Images: ©Formula 2. ©Bahrain Twitter Official account