Sauber Academy driver Theo Pourchaire has delivered a dominant drive to win the first feature race of the Formula 2 season in Bahrain, finishing over nineteen-seconds ahead of second-placed Ralph Boschung.
Carlin’s Zane Maloney charged up the order, avoiding the midfield chaos, to claim the final podium position after starting in P18. Victor Martins, Richard Verschoor, Dennis Hauger and Frederik Vesti were ousted from the top-ten on the first lap after tangling through Turn 4.
Pourchaire had a confident start from pole, retaining the lead at the front, while Kush Maini made a leap up to second, passing Hauger and Verschoor on Turn 1.
Van Amersfoort’s Verschoor spun at Turn 4 after making contact with with Vesti. This triggered more contact between Trident’s Roman Stanek and Martins behind.
Meanwhile, Boschung and Oliver Bearman made the most of the chaos, they were able to leap to 3rd and 4th respectively by avoiding the rest of the top-ten who were tripping over each other around Turn 4. Maloney jumped up the order into the top ten.
Verschoor pitted and was able to get back on track the following lap. Martins, Stanek and Vesti retired from the race. Hauger also appeared to retire but returned to the tack, six laps down.
This brought out the Safety car until lap 4. Boschung wasted little time when trying to attack his Campos teammate Maini as the race went green once again.
On the hunt for his second win of the weekend, Boschung was able to pass Maini on the soft tyre and was quickly on the tail of leading Pourchaire.
Hadjar was then on the charge, passing both Maloney and Fittipaldi in P6.
It was lap 11 when the first scheduled mandatory pit stops were made Daruvala made the call, followed by Leclerc and Doohan who all switched to the soft compound tyre with 21 laps to go. This triggered Iwasa, Bearman, and Enzo Fittipaldi who make the same switch a lap later.
However, later Daruvala was awarded a 5-second time penalty for speeding in the pit-lane while Doohan was given the same penalty for a pit-lane infringement.
Leader Pourcahire had begun to stretch out the gap to Boschung on the hard compound. After locking up, the Frenchman pitted for the soft leaving Boschung pounding around the circuit before he pitted on lap 15 onto the hard compound tyre.
Meanwhile, the battle for third came alive once again. Leclerc made a move on Bearman into Turn 1 while Maini unsuccessfully attempted to do the same on the run to Turn 4.
Later though, Maini was able to make the move on Bearman with DRS, passing Leclerc a lap later to move up to third.
Leclerc was dropped from the battle on lap 20 when he locked up and ran wide into the run off at Turn 10, falling down to sixth behind Iwasa.
Iwasa and Bearman battled for P4 while Leclerc locked-up once again at Turn 10, now falling to P7. Maloney was able to secure the move for P4 by lap 27 on the inside of Turn 10 while Bearman struggled, quickly extending a gap between the pair.
Bearman continued to defend though, holding a Leclerc and Iwasa behind him. Leclerc was able to pass Iwasa as he went on the hunt for Bearman three-tenths ahead in P5.
Pourchire was comfortably extending his lead in the second half of the race. By lap 26 he had extended the gap to Boschung by over 13-seconds and taking the win by over 19-seconds.
Maloney, passed Maini with DRS on the pit-straight for the final podium position after battling his way through the top ten, after originally starting in P18.
Bearman being was swallowed up by those who had more grip in the last few laps, he fell to P8 with Hadjar and Fittipaldi lining themselves up for a move next. He fell out of the points on the final turn of the penultimate lap and locked-up into the run off at Turn 1, falling to p14.
Boschung trailed Pourchaire by over 19-seconds followed by Maloney, Maini, Verschoor, Leclerc and Iwasa.
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