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F2 Bahrain: Pourchaire survives late restart to win amid pit dramas

Theo Pourchaire took his third FIA Formula 2 victory in Bahrain after a characteristically chaotic race featuring two safety cars and multiple fraught pitstops among his rivals.

Theo Pourchaire, ART Grand Prx

The French driver, who became the youngest ever F2 race winner in Monaco last season, took the lead for ART Grand Prix after both Juri Vips (Hitech Grand Prix) and polesitter Jack Doohan were struck by issues.

Vips suffered a catastrophic pitstop when swapping to the softs, dropping him back to 12th, leaving Doohan in the net lead for Virtuosi Racing. But the Australian's hopes of victory were dashed following his pitstop, where he made contact with Pourchaire upon exiting the pits, damaging his front wing and forcing him to pit again.

Pourchaire was then in a position to stake his claim for victory, and cleared the early-stopping Felipe Drugovich to pick up the net lead of the race - as Ayumu Iwasa had gone long on his opening stint with soft tyres and sat in first place prior to his pitstop.

Once the DAMS driver called into the pitlane for the hard tyre, Pourchaire assumed control of the race, although had to keep enough life in his tyres to hold a gap over Liam Lawson once the Kiwi had got past Drugovich.

After an earlier safety car appearance for Frederik Vesti's stranded ART-run car at Turn 1, the Mercedes once again returned to lead the field on the 28th lap, after Richard Verschoor’s Trident-run car was spun by Enzo Fittipaldi (Charouz Racing System) in the battle for 10th, an incident which will be investigated after the race.

As the race overshot its time limit, the safety car pulled in with a lap remaining to go, but Pourchaire hung onto the lead, keeping Lawson and Vips behind him for his first victory of the season.

Vips, who had darted off the line from third to move up to the lead into the first corner, was leading the race in a commanding style. But his pitstop proved to be a turning point in the race, with struggles on his front left and his car being dropped off the jack costing him 10 seconds, allowing Doohan to take the lead before chaos ensued for the Australian.

The Estonian knuckled down and made good use of his soft tyres to make it back up to the podium places at Drugovich's expense, narrowly missing out on moving up a further spot as Lawson held onto the runner-up spot to secure his second podium of the Bahrain weekend.

Felipe Drugovich, MP Motorsport

Felipe Drugovich, MP Motorsport

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Polesitter Doohan, who had lost out to the fast-starting Vips and Ralph Boschung, held third place in the early stages after a tussle into the first corner with Lawson, with Pourchaire taking advantage to slot into fourth.

But although he made it up to second, Doohan's race was ruined by his skirmish with Pourchaire - and subsequently, the Australian's race went from bad to worse, with a third pitstop coming shortly after his front wing change - dropping him from the points.

Poor pitstops were a consistent theme of the race, with both Dennis Hauger (Prema Racing) and Calan Williams (Trident) having their races ended after losing tyres during their pitstops under the last safety car.

Boschung and Marcus Armstrong - who was particularly rapid in the early stages on the alternate soft-starting strategy - cleared Drugovich on the final restart to move up to fourth and fifth - leaving the Brazilian having to be content with sixth.

Logan Sargeant was embroiled in a number of midfield battles, but cleared the wayward Roy Nissany ahead of the final safety car which eventually yielded seventh place for the newly-minted Williams junior driver.

DAMS driver Nissany crossed the line eighth despite a number of close calls in his battle for points, finishing ahead of Jake Hughes of VAR and Doohan - who collected a point after Amaury Cordeel was dropped from ninth to 13th following a time penalty.

Iwasa was in the points at the restart following his excellent drive on the alternate strategy, but went on to finish 16th after a late pitstop with an issue.

Olli Caldwell finished a lap down after picking up multiple penalties for a safety car infringement and track limits violations.

FIA Formula 2 Bahrain feature race results - 31 laps

Cla Driver Team Time Gap
1 France Theo Pourchaire France ART Grand Prix 1:01'54.454  
2 New Zealand Liam Lawson United Kingdom Carlin 1:01'55.379 0.925
3 Estonia Jüri Vips United Kingdom HitechGP 1:01'56.168 1.714
4 Switzerland Ralph Boschung Spain Campos Racing 1:01'58.317 3.863
5 New Zealand Marcus Armstrong United Kingdom HitechGP 1:01'59.060 4.606
6 Brazil Felipe Drugovich Netherlands MP Motorsport 1:02'00.176 5.722
7 United States Logan Sargeant United Kingdom Carlin 1:02'00.993 6.539
8 Israel Roy Nissany Japan Nissan e.Dams 1:02'01.710 7.256
9 United Kingdom Jake Hughes Van Amersfoort Racing 1:02'02.462 8.008
10 Australia Jack Doohan Virtuosi Racing 1:02'03.308 8.854
11 Brazil Enzo Fittipaldi Czech Republic Charouz Racing System 1:02'04.528 10.074
12 Japan Marino Sato Virtuosi Racing 1:02'05.807 11.353
13 Amaury Cordeel Van Amersfoort Racing 1:02'07.158 12.704
14 India Jehan Daruvala Italy Prema Powerteam 1:02'08.815 14.361
15 Turkey Cem Bolukbasi Czech Republic Charouz Racing System 1:02'10.419 15.965
16 Ayumu Iwasa Japan Nissan e.Dams 1:02'25.624 31.170
17 United Kingdom Olli Caldwell Spain Campos Racing 1:01'56.527 1 Lap
18 Australia Calan Williams Italy Trident 52'06.241 4 Laps
19 Norway Dennis Hauger Italy Prema Powerteam 52'09.735 4 Laps
  Netherlands Richard Verschoor Italy Trident 5 laps  
  Switzerland Clement Novalak Netherlands MP Motorsport 19 laps  
  Denmark Frederik Vesti France ART Grand Prix 30 laps  

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