Ralph Boschung eased to a maiden victory in Formula 2 in the Bahrain Sprint race. It is his first win in 96 races in the series.
The reverse grid saw Ralph Boschung start ahead of Roman Stanek ahead of Arthur Leclerc and Ayuma Iwasa. Theo Pourchaire would have to charge from tenth on the grid after an emphatic pole position yesterday which saw him qualify 7-tenths ahead of the rest of the field.
Boschung nailed the getaway as Stanek dropped down the order. Leclerc and Iwasa fought fiercely for second place which Stanek forfeited, with Red Bull junior Iwasa coming out on top in the first lap. The scrapping allowed Boschung to stretch out a 1.4-second lead by the end of lap 1.
A confidence-filled Pourchaire had made 4 positions by the end of lap 2 before claiming fifth position from Dennis Hauger into Turn 1. As Pourchaire climbed through the field, Leclerc was doing the opposite. he had fallen out of DRS range of Iwasa which saw him under pressure from those chasing behind.
Pourchaire was passing at will in the opening stages of the race as he continued to slice through the field. He swiftly dispatched Leclerc for fourth who had just been handed a 10-second stop-go penalty for a starting procedure infringement.
Victor Martins, the leading rookie in the field, launched an attack on Iwasa on lap 9. Martins got past into turn 1, but Iwasa managed to get back ahead in the middle sector. The fight brought Pourchaire back into the mix who had been managing his tyres 1.6 seconds back.
Iwasa was the cork in the bottle. His relentless defence while struggling on tyres had seen the gap to Boschung reach 4 seconds. Martins finally managed to get past and created a 1.5-second gap to Iwasa in the space of a lap. Pourchaire attempted to follow Martins through at turn 10, but Iwasa managed to keep the ART of Pourchaire behind. Hauger capitalised, demoting Pourchaire to fifth.
A big lock-up into the final corner for Iwasa allowed Hauger to make a move in the first complex successfully. Again, Pourchaire attempted to follow a car past Iwasa but was denied the opportunity. The battle between the pair looked to have put an end to any chances of Pourchaire storming to victory.
With 5 laps to go, the fight had settled down. Pourchaire seemed to accept that the podium places were now out of reach, with the train created by Iwasa some 8 seconds from Hauger in third. Boschung continued to control the race 6 seconds ahead of Martins in second place.
After 96 attempts, Ralph Boschung took a maiden victory in FIA Formula 2. Hauger had managed to get the better of Martins for second and third respectively. Pourchaire’s battle with Iwasa held him to fifth which he had to defend hard for against Jehan Daruvala. Maini and Fittipaldi completed the points-paying positions.
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