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F2 Bahrain: Maloney romps to win first race for new car

Zane Maloney scored the first win for the new Formula 2 car in dominant fashion in the Bahrain sprint after flying up the order from eighth on the grid.

Zane Maloney, Rodin Motorsport

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Sauber junior Maloney came out on top for Rodin Motorsport by over five seconds in a sprint race that really came to life in the closing stages as the soft tyres dropped off a cliff, allowing those that had gambled on the hard compound into the mix.

It was Maloney’s first win in F2, after a tough rookie campaign in 2023 as he scored points only three times in the final 16 races.

Jak Crawford made a perfect start from pole position and left second-placed starter Taylor Barnard in his wake. Things continued to worsen for the PHM AIX rookie, as Barnard dropped quickly to the fringes of the top 10 and eventually pulled into the pits to retire on lap 16.

Barnard’s woes were pounced on by ART team-mates Victor Martins and Zak O'Sullivan’s gain, as the pair quickly set about attacking Crawford’s DAMS entry.

While the majority of drivers elected to run the soft tyre to complete the 23-lap sprint race, O’Sullivan ran the hard compound, playing the long game.

Following a brief virtual safety car intervention on the second lap to allow for the recovery of Amaury Cordeel’s Hitech car, this strategy saw O’Sullivan drop backwards as his rivals made use of the early pace in their softer rubber.

Standing out from the pack was Maloney, who climbed from eighth on the grid to second by lap six, showcasing all the passing ability that brought him close to the F3 title in 2022.

On lap eight, Maloney made his move for the lead, skilfully pulling off a textbook switchback move on Crawford at Turn 4 and cementing the position with better traction off the corner.

Zane Maloney, Rodin Motorsport, 1st position, celebrates in Parc Ferme

Zane Maloney, Rodin Motorsport, 1st position, celebrates in Parc Ferme

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Struggling for pace, Prema drivers Andrea Kimi Antonelli and Oliver Bearman both pitted to fit the soft tyre, gambling on a safety car intervention. The move didn't pay off however, as the duo finished 14th and 16th respectively.

Elsewhere, Franco Colapinto was handed a 10-second stop-go penalty for starting out of position, something Richard Verschoor was also due to be investigation for after the race. This error had been caused after Joshua Durksen stalled on the grid and had to be wheeled back into the pits.

From ninth on the grid, Campos driver Isack Hadjar had moved up to third behind Maloney and Crawford, but began to complain that his tyres were completely gone.

His team-mate Pepe Marti, who had started in P11, took full advantage with three laps to go as he battled past at Turn 4 to claim third on his F2 debut.

As drivers on the soft rubber faded, O’Sullivan and fellow hard tyre-runner Gabriel Bortoleto (Invicta Racing) scythed through the order. O’Sullivan passed team-mate Martins on the penultimate tour as the Frenchman fell back, then on the last lap climbed one additional place to seventh as Bortoleto just fell short in his bid to deny Paul Aron fifth.

Joining the dominant Maloney on the podium were Crawford and Marti, ahead of Hadjar, Aron and Bortoleto. 

After being disqualified from qualifying, Kush Maini finished in P13, two spots behind Martins.

Bortoleto will start Saturday’s feature race on pole position from Hadjar, with sprint race winner Maloney third.

F2 Bahrain sprint race results

   
1
 - 
4
   
   
1
 - 
2
   
Cla Driver # Laps Time Interval km/h Pits Points Retirement Bonus
1 Barbados Z. Maloney Rodin Motorsport 5 23

42'13.726

      10   1
2 United States J. Crawford DAMS Lucas Oil 7 23

+5.490

42'19.216

5.490     8    
3
P. Martí Campos Racing
21 23

+7.057

42'20.783

1.567     6    
4 France I. Hadjar Campos Racing 20 23

+9.783

42'23.509

2.726     5    
5
P. Aron Hitech Pulse-Eight
17 23

+18.188

42'31.914

8.405     4    
6
G. Bortoleto Invicta Racing
10 23

+18.320

42'32.046

0.132     3   2
7 United Kingdom Z. O'Sullivan ART Grand Prix 2 23

+20.135

42'33.861

1.815     2    
8 Norway D. Hauger MP Motorsport 11 23

+21.032

42'34.758

0.897     1    
9 Japan R. Miyata Rodin Motorsport 6 23

+21.490

42'35.216

0.458          
10 Netherlands R. Verschoor Trident 22 23

+21.839

42'35.565

0.349          
11 France V. Martins ART Grand Prix 1 23

+23.840

42'37.566

2.001          
12 United States J. Correa DAMS Lucas Oil 8 23

+26.833

42'40.559

2.993          
13 India K. Maini Invicta Racing 9 23

+27.246

42'40.972

0.413          
14
A. Kimi Prema Powerteam
4 23

+30.260

42'43.986

3.014          
15
J. Duerksen PHM AIX Racing
24 23

+35.257

42'48.983

4.997          
16 United Kingdom O. Bearman Prema Powerteam 3 23

+36.247

42'49.973

0.990          
17 Brazil E. Fittipaldi Van Amersfoort Racing 14 23

+56.183

43'09.909

19.936          
18 Argentina F. Colapinto MP Motorsport 12 23

+1'04.819

43'18.545

8.636          
19 Mexico R. Villagomez Van Amersfoort Racing 15 23

+1'21.558

43'35.284

16.739          
dnf Czech Republic R. Staněk Trident 23 19

+4 Laps

35'30.766

4 Laps       Retirement  
dnf
T. Barnard PHM AIX Racing
25 16

+7 Laps

30'18.319

3 Laps       Retirement  
dnf Belgium A. Cordeel Hitech Pulse-Eight 16 0

 

        Retirement  

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