Theo Pourchaire decimated the field to win feature F2 race in Bahrain, as Gabriel Bortoleto took it in F3 after penalty to Mini.
Virtuosi Racing’s Amaury Cordeel stalled on the grid at the start of the formation lap of feature F2 race in Bahrain as he was forced to start from the pitlane. Pole-sitter Theo Pourchaire had a solid getaway in the ART to lead as chaos ensued behind.
The Campos Racing pair of Kush Maini and Ralph Boschung shot up to second and third along with Prema’s Ollie Bearman in the Top 4 after a gaggle of cars had slow starts and made contact with each other to retire from the feature F2 race.
Prema’s Frederik Vesti collided with Van Amersfoort Racing’s Richard Verschoor as ART’s Victor Martins caught in this with Vetsi and Martins retiring. At the same time, Trident’s Roman Stanek retired as well due to engine shutting off.
As the safety car was deployed, MP Motorsport’s Dennis Hauger pitted with a problem and later emerged after the team fixed the issue. It was Pourchaire leading on the hard tyres with Boschung clearing Maini to take second on the soft tyres.
Bearman steadied in fourth leading DAMS’ Ayumu Iwasa, Hitech GP’s Isack Hadjar, Carlin’s Enzo Fittipaldi, PHM Charouz’s Roy Nissany, Carlin’s Zane Maloney and DAMS’ Arthur Leclerc in the Top 10 with a mix of hard and soft tyres.
But the hard runners went for an early stop throughout the field. Post the pit stops, Pourchaire was back in the lead with Boschung slotting back in second from Bearman and Leclerc who jumped Maini after their early stop from the Indian.
Iwasa was sixth from Virtuosi’s Jack Doohan, Fittipaldi, MP Motorsport’s Jehan Daruvala and Maloney in the Top 10, where both Doohan and Daruvala had 5s penalty for pit stop procedure and speeding in the pitlane, respectively.
As Pourchaire ran dominantly from Boschung, Leclerc and Maini passed Bearman to be third and fourth as Bearman held off Iwasa for fifth. An off at Turn 10 for Leclerc allowed Maini clear him for third as the Monegasque lost more places after off at Turn 1.
Bearman and Iwasa cleared him to be fourth and fifth, with Leclerc in sixth from Doohan and Fittipaldi, as Maloney passed Daruvala for ninth in the Top 10. As the race progressed, the tyre wear started to play with drivers struggling in the mid-pack of points.
Pourchaire, Boschung and Maini held their own but Bearman was under pressure from Iwasa, where the Brit nearly pushed the Japanese off at Turn 4. The move was noted by the stewards but it left Iwasa under pressure from charging Maloney.
In fact, Maloney passed both Iwasa and Bearman to be fourth. With no further investigation, the two were fighting again but Bearman managed to keep fifth which again forced Iwasa to lose a place to teammate Leclerc to pass the Japanese for fifth.
Iwasa dropped to seventh from Fittipaldi as Verschoor passed multiple cars to be ninth from Hadjar, as both Doohan and Daruvala dropped out of the Top 10. There was chaos inside the Top 10 but nothing was a problem for the Top 2.
Pourchaire eased to win the feature F2 race by 19.6s over Boschung who completed a double podium for himself. It was almost a double Campos podium but for Maini losing on tyres towards the end to end up fourth after Maloney came through the field.
Having started 18th, he finished third and on the podium while catching Boschung too. Verschoor was another charger after he was hit on Lap 1 to come back to fifth from Leclerc as Hadjar quietly got up to seventh from Iwasa and Fittipaldi.
The Top 10 was rounded out by Van Amersfoort’s Juan Manuel Correa.
#F2 #BahrainGP @TPourchaire wins in dominant fashion. Yesterday's winner @BoschungRalph went from P10 to P2 while @zane_maloney completes the podium from P18 to P3. @R_Verschoor1 , who got spun at lap 1, made his way back to P5 (+FL). #MsportXtra @BAH_Int_Circuit @F2Inside pic.twitter.com/5WWDOtWhDj
— #MsportXtra © (@MsportXtra) March 5, 2023
Minì and Bortoleto had each other for company on the front row but it was the Trident that got the better start. He snatched the lead into Turn 1 as Minì fell behind ART Grand Prix’s Grégoire Saucy. Further back, Jonny Edgar attempted to do the same. The MP Motorsport driver managed to make up five places in the opening two laps to get into the points.
Despite DRS being activated after one racing lap, Bortoleto didn’t need to worry as the Brazilian driver was already two seconds up the road by Lap 2. Looking to avenge his start, Minì went brave on the brakes around the outside of Saucy through Turn 4 to reclaim second.
Hugh Barter’s race came undone on Lap 5 after Edgar clipped his right rear tyre in the battle for 10th, forcing the Campos Racing driver to limp back to the pits with a puncture. The Safety Car was deployed on Lap 7 following contact at the hairpin between MP’s Mari Boya and Van Amersfoort Racing’s Tommy Smith. The Australian resumed but Boya was forced to pull off track and retire.
At the Safety Car restart, Minì made swift work of Bortoleto to regain the lead. However, the Italian’s race soon turned on its head, as the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver was awarded a five-second time penalty for incorrect positioning in his box on the grid. Having started down in P17, Luke Browning was making moves left right and centre. The Hitech Pulse-Eight made it up to eighth, following Sakhir Sprint Race winner Josep María Martí through on Trident’s Leonardo Fornaroli, who’s tyres were fading quickly.
Fornaroli’s teammate Oliver Goethe climbed up into the podium positions, swooping around the outside of Saucy for third. The third Hitech Pulse-Eight of Sebastián Montoya was on a charge of his own, sailing past Fornaroli for ninth along the main straight. The Italian then immediately lost out again to PREMA Racing’s Paul Aron and Zak O’Sullivan, before sustaining a puncture after his right rear tyre was grazed by Nikola Tsolov.
Beganovic continued his progression up the order from eighth on the grid. The Ferrari Academy junior got the switch back done on Saucy for fourth at Turn 4. Out front, Minì’s efforts to build a gap and hold on to a podium spot disintegrated on the penultimate lap. At the tail end of the field, Smith went too deep into Turn 1, locked up and made contact with PHM Racing by Charouz’s Roberto Faria – triggering the Safety Car.
With his advantage wiped away, there was nothing the Alpine junior could do, as Bortoleto was promoted to the victory and claimed the point for the fastest lap. Goethe’s efforts were rewarded with second, as rookie Beganovic joined them on the podium. Saucy added more points to ART’s total in fourth, as Browning made up 12 places to secure his first F3 points finish in fifth.
Martí finished sixth for Campos Racing, after starting 11th. Frederick was seventh, whilst Minì was forced to settle for eighth. Montoya put in another storming fight back through the field in ninth and Franco Colapinto rounded out the top 10, after Aron received a five-second time penalty for track limits, dropping the Estonian to 11th.
#F3 #BahrainGP Safetycar finish. Mini wins but has a 5 second time penalty as the safetycar came out with just 2 laps to go so Mini drops waaaaaayyyy back to 8th. Bortoleto wins. #MsportXtra @BAH_Int_Circuit @alo_oficial #A14 @SophiaFloersch pic.twitter.com/Ze750jvvv5
— #MsportXtra © (@MsportXtra) March 5, 2023
Here’s how sprint F2 and F3 races went in Bahrain