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F2 Abu Dhabi: Vesti victory sets up final day title showdown

Frederik Vesti took the Formula 2 drivers’ title battle to the final day of the season with a masterclass in the Abu Dhabi sprint race.

Fred Vesti, PREMA Racing

Fred Vesti, PREMA Racing

Formula Motorsport Ltd

Vesti arrived at the Yas Marina Circuit with a 25 point deficit to championship leader Theo Pourchaire, meaning he had to score at least two more points than the ART driver on Saturday to take the matter to Sunday.

This ambition was comfortably achieved with a brilliant fightback display after dropping from first to fourth on the opening lap, before recovering to the front in the closing stages, taking the chequered flag with a margin of 3.8 seconds.

Pourchaire had started 14th after a disappointing qualifying session and recovered to seventh, but found himself in strife with the stewards after a practice start infringement when leaving the pits to join the grid.

Drivers are only permitted to complete practice starts on the grid after the Friday practice session, and not at the end of the pitlane at any point. This left a post-race investigation hanging over his sprint, which resulted in no further action taken after the race.

When the action got under way, Vesti showed no concern for his championship situation, making a lunge on pole-sitter Enzo Fittipaldi into Turn 1. The lead was briefly achieved at Turn 5 when Rodin Carlin driver Fittipaldi ran deep into the hairpin, but the Brazilian quickly took the place back as he, Vesti, Isack Hadjar and Richard Verschoor went four wide down the long straight to the Turns 6-7 chicane.

But this battle was quickly halted to allow the recovery of Juan Manuel Correa’s Van Amersfoort Racing entry, with Victor Martins investigated for causing the incident. Martins would later pit to replace his nose as a result of the damage.

In the mayhem, Pourchaire climbed to ninth after narrowly avoiding the spinning Correa at Turn 3.

Fred Vesti, PREMA Racing

Photo by: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Fred Vesti, PREMA Racing

After being told he had “nothing to lose”, Vesti again went full attack when the race resumed on lap five of 23. Having learned his lesson from the previous lap of action, the Dane waited to make his move until he was on the straight, picking off Verschoor before holding his position along the second shorter drag to Turn 9.

Behind, Pourchaire slowly went about his business, moving past Kush Maini and into the points on lap eight before making light work of Ayumu Iwasa, whose slim title hopes had all but disappeared, for P7 – the lowest the ART driver could finish and still confirm the title on Saturday.

Aware of his rival’s progress, Vesti pulled out all the stops with a bold move around the outside of Hadjar into Turn 9, leaving only Fittipaldi ahead, 2.5s down the road.

But the battle for the final podium place was far from done, with Verschoor using both DRS zones on the back straights to push past Hadjar. Highlighting the degradation problem that had been expected, Hadjar was unable to mount a counterattack and instead dropped into the clutches of the chasing pack of Dennis Hauger, Jack Doohan and Pourchaire.

After consistently taking at least two-tenths per lap from Fittipaldi, lap 17 saw Vesti close to within DRS range of the leader, with the system immediately pulling him to the Brazilian’s gearbox.

Fittipaldi put up a stern defence but a lockup at Turn 5 on lap 20 ultimately cost him, affording Vesti the chance to dive for the inside of Turn 6 and take the lead to give himself the best chance of championship success in Sunday’s race.

Despite making early progress, Pourchaire’s charge never fully materialised as he crossed the line in seventh.

On the final lap, Hauger finally made his move on Hadjar for P4, who had been reported for weaving on the straights.

The points gap at the top of the standings has been reduced to 16 ahead of Sunday’s race, meaning Vesti must finish in the top two positions to stand a chance of taking the crown.

Pourchaire, however, can secure the title by finishing fourth, regardless of the result that Vesti is able to achieve.

F2 Abu Dhabi - sprint race results

Driver Info
Cla Driver # Laps Time Interval km/h Pits Points Retirement Bonus
1 Denmark F. Vesti Prema Powerteam 7 23


2 Brazil E. Fittipaldi Rodin Carlin 4 23



3.800     8    
3 Netherlands R. Verschoor Van Amersfoort Racing 22 23



2.500     6    
4 Norway D. Hauger MP Motorsport 1 23



7.300     5    
5 France I. Hadjar Hitech Pulse-Eight 10 23



0.800     4    
6 Australia J. Doohan Invicta Virtuosi Racing 14 23



0.300     3    
7 France T. Pourchaire ART Grand Prix 5 23



0.500     2    
8 Japan A. Iwasa DAMS 11 23



1.300     1    
9 Barbados Z. Maloney Rodin Carlin 3 23



10 United Kingdom O. Bearman Prema Powerteam 8 23



11 India K. Maini Campos Racing 24 23



12 Czech Republic R. Staněk Trident 20 23



13 United States J. Crawford Hitech Pulse-Eight 9 23



14 Israel R. Nissany PHM Racing by Charouz 16 23



15 United Kingdom J. Mason PHM Racing by Charouz 17 23



P. Aron Trident
21 23



17 Belgium A. Cordeel Invicta Virtuosi Racing 15 23



18 Switzerland R. Boschung Campos Racing 25 23



19 Argentina F. Colapinto MP Motorsport 2 23



20 France V. Martins ART Grand Prix 6 23



21 Monaco A. Leclerc DAMS 12 23



dnf United States J. Correa Van Amersfoort Racing 23 0



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