Virtuosi driver Jack Doohan claimed victory in the season-closing Feature F2 race as ART Grand Prix racer Theo Pourchaire finished only P5, but it was enough for the Frenchman to seal the Championship title.
Jack Doohan led the way at the start of the race, building up a gap of 1.3s from Kush Maini by Lap 4. The title contenders Theo Pourchaire and Frederik Vesti hardly made any progress compared to their lowly starting positions.
Three laps later, drivers started to dive into the pits to perform their mandatory tyre change. Pourchaire and Ayumu Iwasa were the first ones to opt for an early tyre change, switching to the Medium compound.
The next lap saw Oliver Bearman, Jack Crawford and Kush Maini come into the box for a fresh set of mediums. Ferrari's junior driver Bearman emerged just ahead of Pourchaire, but he was unable to fend off the attacks of the Frenchman on his cold tyres.
Just a lap later, Zane Maloney, Isack Hadjar and Dennis Hauger fed into the pits for their compulsory tyre swap with race leader Doohan deciding to box on the next lap.
On the fresh tyres, Pourchaire set the fastest lap of the race on Lap 11. At the front, Victor Martins held a 28-second lead over Doohan, who rejoined the track in P10 following his tyre change.
DAMS driver Arthur Leclerc was also on an alternative strategy, having started the race on the yellow-banded rubber. The Monegasque found himself in a promising P6 on Lap 15, but he was handed a five-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.
On Lap 18, Bearman encountered technical issues and was forced to limp back into the pits. However, he could not bring the car back to the fast lane and pulled off at the start of the pits and the pit lane entry was closed as a result.
The pit lane was reopened two laps later, but Vesti still waited for his stop. The Dane driver finally boxed on Lap 24 for new tyres, and rejoined the track in P9, just behind his championship rival Pourchaire.
A lap later, Leclerc also pitted which saw Doohan regain the lead of the race. In the meantime, Vesti and Pourchaire fought hard on the track with the Dane having enjoyed grip advantage on his fresh tyres while the Frenchman having been eager to stay in front of his rival.
However, the Mercedes junior driver darted past the Alfa Romeo junior driver on Lap 27. Vesti gave his all, and charged his way past Iwasa three laps later.
On Lap 30, the virtual safety car was deployed after Joshua Mason parked up at the side of the track. The VSC was quickly withdrawn, and Leclerc continued his charge through the field on his fresh tyres.
Vesti attempted one last overtaking manoeuvre on Maloney, but both ran deep into Turn 9, and made contact. The Dane could continue, but the Barbadian driver spun around.
In the meantime, Doohan won the race, 3.8 seconds ahead of Martin while Vesti completed the podium. Iwasa came home fourth, ahead of Pourchaire, who claimed the title with his fifth-placed finish. Leclerc moved his way up the order with some sensational late moves to finish P6, followed by Hauger and Hadjar with Maini and Crawford bringing up the rear of the top ten.
Commenting on his sixth F2 victory, Doohan said: “Great to finish off my F2 campaign with a win. It was a tricky race in the end, I don’t think that option-prime was ideal, but we made it work and were able to keep the tyres alive at a crucial stage in the race and bring home a win.
"To sign off like this with Invicta Virtuosi Racing, I couldn’t be happier. Looking forward to the future and big kisses and hugs to all you F2 supporters and to all of those who’ve supported us the last two years, I’m so, so grateful for it and I’m already missing you guys.”Pourchaire claims title
Théo Pourchaire is the 2023 FIA Formula 2 Drivers’ Champion with 203 points. Frederik Vesti finishes up 192 points adrift in second after his huge comeback effort, while Jack Doohan’s victory lifts the Invicta Virtuosi Racing driver up to third in the final standings, ending up on 168 points.
Iwasa ends his F2 career fourth overall on 165, while Victor Martins’ P2 finish leaves him as the highest-placed rookie, fifth in the Drivers’ Standings on 150.
ART Grand Prix are Teams’ Champions for the first time in their F2 history, finishing up with 353 points. PREMA Racing end up on 322 points in second, with Rodin Carlin third on 220 points.