Dennis Hauger had the win in sprint F2 race in Australia in tricky end, as Franco Colapinto got the victory in F3.
A pre-race downpour caught out the likes of Campos pair of Ralph Boschung & Kush Maini and Carlin’s Enzo Fittipaldi on the lap to the grid. Out of the three, Boschung and Fittipaldi did not make it to the start and retired even before the race.
It was dry still as strategy difference was to be seen with many going for mediums and others for the soft tyres. The reverse grid pole-sitter Dennis Hauger made a good start in his MP Motorsport start to lead Hitech GP’s Jak Crawford and Campos’ Maini.
DAMS’ Arthur Leclerc steadied in fourth from ART’s Victor Martins, Prema’s Oliver Bearman, Carlin’s Zane Maloney and Hitech GP’s Isack Hadjar in Top 8 points position, as Prema’s Frederik Vesti and MP Motorsport’s Jehan Daruvala rounded the Top 10.
There was contact between Maloney and DAMS’ Ayumu Iwasa on the opening lap but they managed to hang on. The Japanese, though, lock-up heavy on the main straight which caused a puncture and he had to pit to change tyres.
While Hauger led Crawford, Maini defended well from Leclerc for third. The Monegasque got third from it but the Indian came back and retook the place. The fight behind got feisty as Maloney, Hadjar, Martins, Bearman and Vesti went for it.
Maloney was the winner of it to be fifth along with Hadjar as Martins dropped to seventh, while Bearman dropped outside of points in ninth. As rain started to fall down, there was a safety car period after Virtuosi’s Jack Doohan spun to a halt.
The Australian was tapped on the back by Van Amersfoort’s Juan Manuel Correa, as some opted to switch to wet tyres taking a gamble. There was a spin for Trident’s Roman Stanek and Correa on different tyre compounds in greasy conditions.
The move from Correa was put under investigation where he was handed a 10s time penalty. As the safety car was called up, PHM Charouz’s Brad Benavides stopped on circuit. This is why the safety car remained on rack leading the pack.
There were couple of laps remaining when the race went green with the field having different strategies of slick and wet tyres. The re-start was good for Hauger to win the sprint F2 race from Crawford and Maini, who held off Leclerc.
Maloney was fifth from Hadjar as Bearman got Vesti on the final lap to seventh, as PHM Charouz’s Roy Nissany missed out on points in ninth from Van Amersfoort’s Richard Verschoor in the Top 10 as the wet tyre gamblers did not have a jolly run.
#F2 #AustralianGP Timing was a bit off but Hauger wins the SprintRace. #MsportXtra @F2Inside pic.twitter.com/ZvhyUIw8rd
— #MsportXtra © (@MsportXtra) April 1, 2023
Montoya got a great launch to retain the lead into the first corner, but Luke Browning got the jump on third-place man Caio Collet. The #16 Hitech Pulse-Eight driver even forced a nose down the inside of Oliver Goethe at Turn 1, but the slightest of contact on the run into Turn 3 gave the Trident man a puncture. He locked-up and ran straight into the gravel as Browning claimed P2.
Franco Colapinto was brave in battle against Collet down the back straight, seizing third from the Van Amersfoort Racing man into the fast Turn 9 and 10 chicane. A Safety Car brought a temporary reprieve at the end of Lap 1. Goethe was stranded in the gravel trap at Turn 3 and his car needed recovering.
Racing got back underway entering Lap 4 as race leader Montoya pulled the pin through Turn 13 to escape up the road. The following lap and the Hitech duo at the front could hardly be separated. With DRS, Browning looked to the inside at Turn 9 but bounced over the kerbs. He dropped down the order to fifth and forced a few battles behind. Collet was one that lost out, sustaining a puncture in a fight with the PREMA Racing teammates of Paul Aron and Zak O’Sullivan.
On Lap 6, Colapinto used DRS into Turn 9 to take the lead from Montoya, moving around the outside on entry before a Safety Car neutralised the race once more. Ido Cohen hit the wall down the back straight following slight contact with Campos Racing’s Hugh Barter. The Rodin Carlin driver was ok but out of the race.
Back to racing on Lap 11 and the leader chose to go at the penultimate corner. Dino Beganovic was able to snatch a place from Gabriele Minì into Turn 3 to put three PREMAs in the top six at the halfway point. In the fourth DRS zone, Beganovic forced Browning defensive on Lap 12 and claimed P5 from the Brit. Plenty behind took advantage as the Hitech fell out of the top 10 in the following corners on Lap 13. Browning was later handed a 10-second time penalty for causing a collision.
A third Safety Car was deployed after Tommy Smith ran wide at the final corner and damaged his Van Amersfoort Racing car. The race resumed entering Lap 17 and once more, Colapinto chose to go ahead of the final corner and escaped DRS range right away. He put in the fastest lap as the gap opened up to over two seconds on Lap 18.
Behind him, the podium fight was hard-fought. O’Sullivan and Montoya couldn’t be separated, rubbing wheels as the PREMA driver claimed P2 out of Turn 11. PREMA teammates Aron and Beganovic went wheel-to-wheel into Turn 3 on the penultimate lap and the Estonian had to fight hard to keep fourth. Minì took advantage to sneak into fifth ahead of the Swede just as a fourth and final Safety Car came out. Jenzer Motorsport driver Alejandro García was in the wall at Turn 11, meaning the race ended under Safety Car.
Winner Colapinto was clear of O’Sullivan in P2 and Montoya held onto a podium position in third. Aron’s defence meant he was fourth ahead of Minì and Beganovic. Trident teammates Gabriel Bortoleto and Leonardo Fornaroli followed in seventh and eighth respectively, with Mari Boya and Grégoire Saucy rounding out the points, in ninth and 10th.
#F3 #AustralianGP Results of a safetycar filled SprintRace. #MsportXtra pic.twitter.com/jZV8AhjcCA
— #MsportXtra © (@MsportXtra) April 1, 2023
UPDATE: Franco Colapinto has lost the Melbourne Sprint Race victory following a post-race inspection found a technical infringement on his car. The MP Motorsport driver had taken his first win of the 2023 season, but the Argentine has been stripped of this result after his car was checked by the Stewards following the conclusion of the Sprint.
Pieces of bodywork were found to be outside of the regulatory limits, contravening Articles 1.3 and 2.5 of the Technical Regulations. Modifications to the geometry of the parts in question are prohibited by the rules outside of basic repairs.
MP Motorsport drivers Mari Boya and Jonny Edgar have also been disqualified from the race for the same technical infringement as was found on Colapinto’s car. It means that PREMA Racing’s Zak O’Sullivan inherits the Sprint victory, promoting Hitech Pulse-Eight’s Sebastián Montoya to second and Paul Aron to third.