Coming into round four in Barcelona, it was ART GP’s Théo Pourchaire who led the Formula 2 driver’s standings by just two points over MP Motorsport’s Felipe Drugovic. However, a lot of the big names failed to score big points over the weekend, allowing others to take advantage.
By Tyler Foster
As a result, we saw the championship lead change hands and a certain driver take both race wins. To recap the action, here are our five main takeaways from F2 Round 4 at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Drugovich’s Double Dominance
MP Motorsport’s Felipe Drugovich will be absolutely delighted with his performance over the weekend, after winning both races in dominant displays and gaining the lead of the championship.
After a difficult qualifying, in which Drugovich was tenth, the Brazilian was handed a three-place grid penalty for the Sprint Race as a result of impeding his championship rival Théo Pourchaire on his flying lap. Despite this setback, he started alongside Pourchaire on the second row and had an excellent getaway, taking the lead into turn one and never looking back. He comfortably dominated the Sprint and took his second win of the season.
For Sunday, he started tenth but was once again exceptional to work the soft compound tyres to their limit, extending their stint before pitting. He then seemed a man on a mission with fresh rubber and pounded in the laps while overtaking from ninth all the way to victory and his second Feature Race victory of the season. This extends his lead in the championship to 26 points over Pourchaire, who had a disappointing weekend.
Doohan finally makes haste
Despite being the strongest performer in qualifying coming into round four, Jack Doohan languished towards the bottom of the driver’s standings, with a ninth-place being his highest finish.
Nevertheless, the Australian continued his excellent qualifying form to score his second pole position of the season as a rookie. After a decent performance in the Sprint Race, moving from tenth to sixth, it looked as if it was finally coming together for Doohan.
There was more to come however, with the onus being on Doohan to finally capitalise on his strong qualifying in the Feature Race on Sunday. He didn’t disappoint. He led the race during the first stint comfortably, extending his lead until his pit-stop. Once on the hard tyres, it seemed that Drugovich was just on another level to the rest of the field and therefore Doohan had to concede the win.
Regardless, it was a big moment for Doohan, with this being his maiden podium in Formula 2. With Monaco next week, Doohan has seemingly broken his duck at the perfect time.
Turning point for Vesti?
Being a Mercedes Junior is one of the most pressurised positions within the feeder series world. Especially when you’re in the category directly below Formula 1. For ART’s Danish driver Frederik Vesti, this is a reality.
After a difficult start transitioning to Formula 2 as a rookie this season, Vesti stepped up in Barcelona and found the pace that had seemingly been missing at the beginning of the year. He performed brilliantly in qualifying, with a season-high third-place, while also outqualifying his teammate and then championship leader, Théo Pourchaire.
He was consistent in the Sprint Race and moved up one spot to score a seventh-place finish. Once again in the Feature Race, he illustrated that his qualifying performance wasn’t a fluke. He overtook Jüri Vips at the start, and finished where he started (in third) after being passed by the rapid Drugovich.
This could be a turning point for Vesti, who had otherwise been struggling up to now.
Maiden F2 podiums in the Sprint
Doohan and Vesti weren’t the only drivers in Formula 2 to achieve their maiden podiums over the weekend. The Sprint Race saw two other drivers also manage the feat.
Starting fifth and sixth for the Sprint were Ayumu Iwasa in the DAMS and Logan Sargeant in the Carlin respectively. With Barcelona being known as a difficult circuit for overtaking, their performances were more than respectable considering the quality of drivers ahead of the pair at the start. Both Jake Hughes and Théo Pourchaire, who started second and third respectively, struggled in comparison to Iwasa and Sargeant.
After overtaking Hughes and Pourchaire, they scored their first podiums at this level, with Iwasa in second and Sargeant in third. As rookie drivers, they have shown consistency in both qualifying and the races so far. Iwasa is currently eleventh, while Sargeant has impressed in his first year and is now sixth in the standings.
Spanish woes for the experienced bunch
While Drugovich achieved a historic double win, a number of experienced drivers suffered mediocre weekends, allowing the Brazilian to extend his lead in the championship to 26 points.
Pourchaire came to Barcelona at the head of the standings but leaves disappointed despite scoring points in both races. Jehan Daruvala scored a fourth in the Sprint but had a mechanical failure in the Feature Race. The New Zealand pair of Liam Lawson and Marcus Armstrong only managed low points totals on the Sunday.
Both Richard Verschoor and Jüri Vips had perhaps the most disastrous weekend of all, scoring no points at all. Verschoor claimed to be unhappy with his setup throughout, while Vips started promisingly with a second-place in qualifying but had a break failure in the Sprint and then timed his pit-stop poorly in the Feature Race.
Unfortunately, Ralph Boschung didn’t even compete in the races after suffering from severe neck pain on Friday and subsequently pulling out of the weekend to recover.
Next up is Round 5 and Monaco. Last year, it was Théo Pourchaire who won his maiden race in the Feature Race after achieving Pole. He will certainly be looking for a repeat performance on Sunday.
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Header photo credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd