Dennis Hauger made history as he became Formula 2’s first-ever winner on the streets of Melbourne. Starting on reverse grid pole, the MP Motorsport driver retained the lead off the line and held it throughout the 22 laps, keeping his cool despite the ever-changing weather conditions and a two-lap sprint to the finish.
Hitech Pulse-Eight’s Jak Crawford converted a front row start to a maiden podium finish in second. Fellow rookie Kush Maini held Arthur Leclerc at bay for his first piece of silverware with Campos Racing.
AS IT HAPPENED
A pre-race downpour left the field facing a slippery but drying Albert Park Circuit. However, only 20 cars would line up on the grid after Enzo Fittipaldi and Ralph Boschung both spun at Turn 8 on the reconnaissance lap.
Hauger got a mighty getaway at lights out, but Crawford was able to match his fellow Red Bull junior. Going side by side down the back straight to Turn 11 on the opening lap, the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver eventually had to yield, allowing Hauger to hold the lead.
Soft tyre runners Leclerc and Victor Martins immediately put their red-walled rubber to use from fourth and seventh, respectively. The pair went three-wide with Oliver Bearman in the battle over fourth, with the DAMS driver diving up the inside of his fellow Ferrari junior, and Martins swiftly following suit.
After achieving pole yesterday, Ayumu Iwasa’s race unravelled early on. Fighting to hold off Zane Maloney and Isack Hadjar, the Japanese driver suffered a puncture and was forced to pit for fresh tyres, dropping him to the back of the order.
Having dispatched Iwasa, Maloney sent a move up the apex of Turn 11 on Bearman, leaving the PREMA Racing driver no opportunity to defend P6. Meanwhile, Leclerc squirrelled his way through into the podium positions at Turn 10 on Lap 7, but Maini wasn’t relinquishing it without a fight. Brave on the brakes, the Campos Racing driver got the switchback done, regaining the place in the next corner.
Still glued nose to tail, Maloney took full advantage of the DRS train. Martins found himself stuck in the middle of a three-car pincer movement, with Bearman attempting to dive up the Alpine junior’s outside and Maloney around the outside. Without a twitch of nerves, the Rodin Carlin stuck at it to take fifth.
Their battle allowed Hadjar and Frederik Vesti to join the fray, with the Hitech driver getting past Bearman, who was then overtaken by his PREMA Racing teammate, and fellow Frenchman Martins.
Jack Doohan’s day came to an early end after being tapped from behind by Juan Manuel Correa. It prompted a Safety Car appearance which coincided with spots of rain on the track and several drivers gambled on a switch to the wets.
The field continued running behind the Safety Car for an additional two laps after Brad Benavides outbraked himself into Turn 13 and found the barriers.
As the rain faded away, it was a two-lap dash to the chequered flag. Nailing his restart, Hauger held firm out front to bring home his third victory in the Championship ahead of Crawford and Maini.
Leclerc’s well-worn softs left him vulnerable to Maloney. Making his DAMS car as wide as possible, the Monégasque got his elbows out to hold on to fourth. Hadjar claimed sixth, whilst Bearman repaid the favour to Vesti to retake seventh on the final lap.
KEY QUOTE – Dennis Hauger, MP Motorsport
“Just finished Race 1, really happy with it obviously. It was a tough one, a bit of wet and a bit of dry, but overall, we stayed calm. Really happy to finally get the win this season, so just got to keep on going for tomorrow.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP VIEW
Despite not scoring in the Sprint Race Ralph Boschung remains at the top of the standings with 33 points, holding a one-point advantage over Théo Pourchaire in second. Ayumu Iwasa sits third, while victory has promoted Dennis Hauger to fourth on 30 points, one ahead of Frederik Vesti.
Campos Racing retain their hold on the Teams’ Championship on 57 points, three clear of MP Motorsport and six ahead of DAMS in third.
Iwasa will be hoping he can reign triumphant down under in Sunday’s Feature Race, as he’ll be leading the pack from pole position. The 33–lap race is scheduled to get underway at 11:35 local time.
Source : Fia