F2: Vesti wins sprint race, Bearman dominates feature race

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Spain, Circuit de Catalunyaes

Prema racer Frederick Vesti dominated the rain-soaked sprint race at the Spanish Grand Prix while his team mate Oliver Bearman snatched his third F2 victory on Sunday. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó reports on the F2 races from Barcelona.

Following the sunny and hot weather conditions on Friday, drivers were greeted by very different conditions on Saturday as they lined up on the grid for the sprint race at Barcelona.

Despite the slippery surface following a heavy downpour, reverse pole sitter Amaury Cordeel was able to hang on to the lead, defending his position to championship leader Frederik Vesti into Turn 1.

However, as the leading pair approchaed Turn 10 on the second lap, Cordeel ran wide which Vesti was perfectly delighted to capitalize on.

Vesti was able to pull away and build up a margin of around five seconds by the halfway point of the race. With the track drying up quickly, drivers outside the top ten positions decided to pit with Jehan Daruvala, Kush Maini and Zane Maloney diving into the pits first for red-walled softs.

Just after the first pit stops, Juan Manuel Correia lost his F2 car at Turn 2, spinning into the gravel trap. The incident brought out the virtual safety car before the race director deployed full safety car on the following lap.

The drivers, who were still out on wet tyres, made use of the opportunity and came in for slicks.

The slower pace on the wet surface and the VSC and SC interventions meant that the race went to time instead of lap number. On the slicks Theo Pourchaire was flying and overtook Dennis Hauger at Turn 1 before going past his team mate Martins at Turn 3.

The Frenchman put his championship rival Vesti in sight, but the Dane was able to resist and secured his third win of the season.

Vesti commented: “P1 in the Sprint Race in Barcelona, really happy to take this win. We started third and I knew there was a good possibility today to take the win in very difficult conditions, going from the wet to the dry tyres. Good points again and we focus on tomorrow now.”

Bearman in control in second Barcelona race

Friday saw Prema driver Oliver Bearman snatch his second F2 pole position. The Ferrari-backed driver had to fight hard at the start and up to Turn 4, but he managed to cling on to the lead.

The young Briton could look after his soft Pirelli tyres and managed to slowly extend his lead from Enzo Fittipaldi. While the front runners started to dive into the pits for fresh tyres, Victor Martins and championship leader Frederic Vesti, who started the race on the more durable hard compound, stayed out to extend their opening stint.

Although the fresh tyres yielded clearly more grip, the previous front runners Bearman, Fittipaldi, Ayumu Iwasa and Theo Pourchaire were unable to fully capitalize on it as they were stuck in traffic. While they all needed to force their way through drivers, who were yet to pit for new rubber, Martins and Vesti were untroubled and could look after their white-walled tyres.

The Mercedes junior driver came in for new tyres on Lap 25 while Martins decided to pit for a fresh set of softs on the following lap. The Dane came back out in ninth position with the Frenchman rejoining the action in P5.

Using the superior grip of their fresh softs, they quickly posted a series of fastest laps, going initially almost two seconds quicker than their rivals at the top.

The championship leader Prema driver made bold moves on Dannis Hauger Zane Maloney and Purchaire before passing Jack Doohan.

The pair used their fresh tyres to close in on Iwasa with the Alpine Academy driver going past the Japanase by diving to the inside of Turn 1. Although he also closed in on the second-placed Fittipaldi, he was unable to pass the Brazilian and needed to settle for P3.

The Prema racer, who was also on the alternate strategy, lost the edge grip of his fresh softs when he closed in on Iwasa and had to settle for fifth position.

In the meantime, Bearman looked after his tyres and took a controlled race victory in the Barcelona Feature Race to secure his third F2 victory in his debut season.

Commenting on his third F2 victory, the Ferrari junior Bearman said: “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.”

Thanks to his commanding victory in Race 1 in Barcelona, Vesti managed to retain the lead of the Drivers’ Championship, extending the previous margin 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.