Jack Doohan makes the alternative strategy work to win feature F2 race in Spa-Francorchamps, as Taylor Barnard took it in F3.
It was dry but cloudy conditions ahead of the feature F2 race at Spa-Francorchamps and it caught out ART’s Victor Martins and Prema’s Frederik Vesti on the out lap. The Frenchman spun just outside the pitlane but managed to continue on.
Vesti, however, spun at the end of Kemmel Straight and hit the barrier which ended his chance of taking part in the race. This helped teammate Oliver Bearman to lead comfortably at the start from ART’s Theo Pourchaire and Carlin’s Zane Maloney.
His teammate Enzo Fittipaldi was fourth from Martins, who had a slow start. Van Amersfoort Racing’s Richard Verschoor passed MP Motorsport’s Jehan Daruvala for sixth, with Hitech GP’s Isack Hadjar in eighth from Virtuosi’s Jack Doohan.
The Top 10 was rounded out by Hitech GP’s Jak Crawford. MP Motorsport’s Dennis Hauger was initially caught out by a slow Campos of Ralph Boschung at the exit of Turn 1 and the evasive action dropped him in the mid-pack.
On the exit of the Kemmel Straight, DAMS’ Ayumu Iwasa lost control on his medium tyres and made contact with Hauger which broke the Japanese driver’s suspension. The Norwegian driver stopped on track but the marshals pushed him to re-start.
The collision and the marshal push was put under investigation with Hauger joining the field at the back. Once it was cleared, the re-start saw Bearman lead the way from Pourchaire but the Carlin duo went for it despite a radio call.
Fittipaldi took third from Maloney who had to take evasive action on the outside at Kemmel Straight. This helped Martins to take fourth with Verschoor holding sixth from Daruvala, Hadjar, Doohan and Crawford in the Top 10 points places.
There was a scary moment for DAMS’ Arthur Leclerc on Eau Rouge when he made slight contact with PHM Charouz’s Roy Nissany. The Monegasque spun onto the tarmac and escaped hitting the barrier but suffered a puncture to drop back.
Hauger, meanwhile, was showed the black flag and disqualified for the marshal pushing him to re-start. At the front, Bearman came under tremendous pressure from Pourchaire who tried to clear him multiple times but the Brit hung on well.
Nissany was handed a 10s penalty for his collision with Leclerc. The pit exit was catching drivers out with Trident’s Clement Novalak going off the white line, while Hadjar clobbered the wall to lose the front wing. He continued but Virtual Safety Car was deployed.
The re-start brought Pourchaire and Fittipaldi close onto Bearman’s tail before their pit stop. The Frenchman took the race lead in the pitlane with a slightly faster pit stop with Bearman in second from Martins and Maloney, where Fittipaldi dropped to fifth.
There was a moment between Maloney and Daruvala where the Indian went off road while trying a pass and was forced to retire. The move was deemed fine with no investigation needed. The safety car played in the hands of Doohan after Crawford was spun around.
He was hit by Van Amersfoort’s Juan Manuel Correa at the end of Kemmel Straight. It was Pourchaire in the lead from Doohan who benefited having the alternative strategy. Bearman was third from Martins, Maloney and Fittipaldi in the Top 6.
But Martins had a 5s penalty for speeding in pitlane as he and Bearman were put under investigation for causing a collision after a moment between the two. Verschoor slotted in seventh from Novalak, Correa and Boschung in the Top 10 points position.
The incident between Crawford and Correa was put under investigation as PHM Charouz’s Joshua Mason had an off under the safety car which got extended. The re-start saw Pourchaire hold onto to his lead from Doohan and Bearman.
Doohan eventually went past Pourchaire on the Kemmel Straight to lead the feature F2 race. Behind, Martins and Bearman made contact with the Frenchman having to take evasive action but taking third from the Brit with the penalty already there.
Maloney held off Fittipaldi and Verschoor in the fight for fourth. Campos’ Kush Maini climbed up to eighth from Trident’s Roman Stanek and Novalak in the Top 10. The strategy worked for Doohan who took the feature F2 race win at Spa-Francorchamps.
Pourchaire was second from Martins but a 5s penalty dropped him with Bearman getting third. But the Brit had a penalty against his name too for the collision with Martins which helped Fittipaldi to end up third after his late pass on Maloney.
He had to settle for fourth with Martins in fifth from Verschoor as Bearman slotted in seventh from Maini, Stanek and Boschung in the Top 10 points places. With Vesti not starting, Pourchaire took the F2 points lead at a crucial stage of the season.
#F2 #BelgianGP Another crazy Feature Race in which many things happened, except there was no rain. It's a win for Jack Doohan, it's a back-to-back feature race win for Jack. #MsportXtra @F2Inside pic.twitter.com/WfKYQ9z6Xq
— #MsportXtra © (@MsportXtra) July 30, 2023
UPDATE: Following the conclusion of Round 11’s Feature Race at Spa-Francorchamps, Dennis Hauger has been disqualified from the final classification for breaching Article 22.4 of the Sporting Regulations. After contact with Ayumu Iwasa at Turn 6, the MP Motorsport driver stopped at the entrance of Turn 9 due to a stalled engine. After he stopped, the marshals tried to push his car to the closest opening and whilst being pushed, Hauger “bump started” his car and rejoined the race.
Juan Manuel Correa has received a 10-second time penalty for causing a collision with Jak Crawford at Turn 5. The Stewards determined that Crawford was slightly ahead on the outside on the approach to Turn 5. The Hitech Pulse-Eight driver left sufficient room for the Van Amersfoort Racing driver on the inside, with a collision ensuing at the apex. As a result of the penalty, the American driver drops from P12 to P16 in the final classification, promoting Roy Nissany, Clément Novalak, Joshua Mason and Amaury Cordeel up one place each.
Finally, Iwasa has been handed a five-place grid drop for causing a collision with Hauger at Turn 6. The Stewards found that the DAMS driver missed the apex at Turn 5, putting him onto a wet line. Under acceleration at Turn 6, Iwasa lost the back end of his car, making contact with the Norwegian. Iwasa will serve the penalty at the next race in which he participates in.
After a formation lap behind the Safety Car, racing got underway with a rolling start and Josep María Martí headed the field on slicks. Paul Aron was one of the only drivers to opt for wet tyres and he went from P11 up to fourth in the first corners as those ahead on the mediums struggled for grip.
Along the Kemmel Straight he moved up to P2, passing Leonardo Fornaroli into Les Combes, then quickly taking the lead as Martí slithered around on the mediums. Barnard was up to second after opting for wets also, joined by MP Motorsport’s Mari Boya who likewise went the right way on tyres. Mansell was the biggest gainer, going from 23rd to fourth in the opening stages.
The Safety Car was deployed on Lap 4 after a crash for Oliver Goethe at Eau Rouge. He was out of the car and ok, but Aron’s sacrificed his nine second lead as the PREMA Racing driver pitted for slick tyres. Barnard, Mansell, Bedrin, Alejandro García, Sebastián Montoya and Sophia Floersch all remained on track to make up the top six while Aron filtered out on his mediums in P7.
Roberto Faria was also on the mediums but spun off the road and into the gravel at Les Combes and out of the race, prolonging the Safety Car. Luke Browning was another to suffer a spin under the Safety Car, but he was able to rejoin, albeit down to 17th.
Racing got back underway heading onto Lap 8 and those on the wets opened up a gap to Aron who was the lead car on the slicks in seventh. Caio Collet made a fast restart, passing Boya for P8 into Les Combes, and the Sprint Race winner passed Aron after the Estonian ran wide and off the road at Turn 8.
Championship leader Bortoleto had been as low as 20th in the first laps but was back up to 16th on Lap 9 as he chased down his title rivals ahead. The Trident driver claimed two more places into Les Combes to move up to 14th on the same lap. With five laps to go, Mansell was just 0.3s back from leader Barnard in the fight for first and looking to find a route through. The pair almost made contact into Les Combes and the Campos Racing driver ran across the escape road before handing the place back to Barnard.
Bortoleto continued his fightback, taking 12th from Boya on Lap 12 down the Kemmel Straight. That became 11th on the penultimate lap with a pass on title rival Zak O’Sullivan and with Aron in eighth, he needed two more places to clinch the title. Up in front, Barnard made it back-to-back podiums at Spa-Francorchamps to seal his maiden F3 victory ahead of Mansell. Teammate Bedrin was P3 in the end ahead of the third and final Jenzer García, who capped off a great day for the team in fourth.
Collet swept to fifth on the final lap after he found grip to pass Montoya and Floersch for a top five result. Aron ended up eighth with Martí ninth and Colapinto taking a pivotal 10th place, keeping Bortoleto behind and short of the title by just two points.
#F3 #BelgianGP Now that was a crazy Feature Race on a damp track where a number of drivers stayed on the wet tyre while others went for the dry tyre. Well done @SophiaFloersch . #MsportXtra pic.twitter.com/yUXCTqXZnn
— #MsportXtra © (@MsportXtra) July 30, 2023
UPDATE: Following the conclusion of the Round 9 Feature Race at Spa-Francorchamps, several drivers have received post-race penalties. Firstly, Hitech Pulse-Eight driver Luke Browning has been awarded a 10-second time penalty for causing a collision. During the race, the Briton made contact with Rodin Carlin’s Ido Cohen at Turn 8, with Cohen sustaining a puncture as a result. After examining evidence post-race, Stewards determined that Browning was the driver predominantly at fault.
With the penalty applied, Browning remains 23rd in the classification. Oliver Gray has received a 10-second time penalty for causing a collision. The Briton made contact with Campos Racing’s Hugh Barter at Turn 18, leaving both out of the race with damage. After analysing the incident and reviewing evidence, the Stewards deemed the Rodin Carlin driver as predominantly responsible for the collision.
Due to Gray not being classified in the Feature Race, his penalty is converted into a five-place grid drop that he will serve at the next race in which he participates in. Finally, Trident driver Oliver Goethe has been assigned a 10-second stop and go penalty for a breach of Article 37.5 of the Sporting Regulations. Trident team personnel remained on the grid after the 15-second signal had been given. With the Trident driver not classified in the Spa Feature Race, his 10-second stop and go penalty has been converted into a 10-place grid drop for the next race in which he participates in.
Here’s how F2 and F3 sprint panned out