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F2 qualifying

Bahrain Grand Prix: F2 qualifying results

Formula 2 has 10 rookies on the grid this season among 12 experienced drivers but who will be the first race winner this weekend?

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The 2024 F2 season is underway with Kush Maini taking the first Formula 2 pole position of the year in Bahrain. 

F2 Qualifying
The 2024 F2 drivers during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on February 28, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Qian Jun/MB Media/Getty Images)

Formula 2 has a mixed grid this year with 10 rookies joining the 12 experienced drivers. With the likes of Ritomo Miyata, the 2023 Super Formula Champion, Andrea Kimi Antonelli, a Mercedes junior who won FRECA last year, and Formula 3 graduates such as Zak O’Sullivan and the former champion Gabriel Bortoleto joining F2, the season is set to be rather competitive.

The feeder series not only has new drivers but a new car. The aim of the 2024 F2 challenger is to make overtaking easier whilst resembling the F1 cars. Earlier this year, the F2 grid had a shakedown with the new car in Barcelona and completed pre-season testing around the Bahrain International Circuit a couple of weeks ago. The general consensus from the drivers was very positive, but this weekend is the first time they’ll be racing.

However, qualifying comes first and it was Invicta Virtuosi’s Kush Maini who took pole position, but let’s get into how that happened in F2’s qualifying around Bahrain.

Qualifying for F2

Formula 2 qualifying sets the grid for both races with a reverse grid of the top 10 for the Sprint Race tomorrow. The tyres for the weekend are the hard and soft compounds, so tyres will be crucial for the race given the high degradation that is expected.

But for qualifying, all 22 drivers went out on track on the soft compounds.

The session began with the drivers heading out on track for their first push laps. The Campos Racing drivers of Isack Hadjar and Josep Maria Martí were the final two cars out on track.

Ritomo Miyata in the Car 6 of Rodin Motorsport tested his rear wing, testing the DRS, when warming up his tyre down the main straight. But it was Enzo Fittipaldi who set the first benchmark time.

Fittipaldi, racing for Van Amersfoort this year, set a benchmark of 1.58.422 ahead of his rookie teammate, Rafael Villagomez. With a benchmark set, other drivers began completing their push laps.

Richard Verschoor soon beat Fittipaldi, as did Gabriel Bortoleto, but the VAR driver soon retook P1. However, it didn’t last long as Dennis Hauger soon completed a lap time of 1:42.578.

Kush Maini then hit the front of the field after going 0.045s ahead of Hauger.

Just after this, a yellow flag was brought out briefly; Jak Crawford had a moment, spinning around over the kerbs.

Antonelli, who is a favourite to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, managed to put his car P10 after his first flying laps.

All but two come into the pits

Hadjar finally came out on track with 17 minutes to go, with a clear path ahead as the other drivers started coming into the pits. Whilst this ensures a clean track, it created difficulty in getting everything done by the end of the session.

With 20 drivers in the pits, it was Maini in P1, ahead of Hauger, Fittipaldi, Zane Maloney and O’Sullivan, who rounded out the top five.

Hadjar and Martí’s first laps put them P1 and P2 respectively. It was a Campos 1-2, even with a mistake by Hadjar out of Turn 13. Earlier today in practice, Hadjar went fastest and he certainly continued that throughout his first flying laps.

Once Hadjar and Martí had completed their laps and come into the pits, the focus moved to Oliver Bearman. The PREMA driver, who won multiple races in 2023, was currently last on the timesheets. The British driver had struggled slightly in practice and the team were working on his car throughout qualifying.

Final 10 minutes

Cars headed back out on track for the final 10 minutes of qualifying. With fresh sets of tyres on and lower fuel, it was Fittipaldi who went for another flying lap first.

The Brazilian improved to P1 but everyone behind him was taking a step forward. Fittipaldi was soon falling down the order as Maloney took provisional pole ahead of Hauger and Miyata.

Bearman was able to put his car in P12, but with others setting their flying laps, the British driver moved down the order. Hadjar briefly stood on the top step, but it was the Invicta Virtuosi’s of Maini and Bortoleto who improved to the front row with the former in P1.

However, there was still time to push again.

And Rodin Motorsport’s Maloney was going for it, as was Martins. Maloney set a green first sector but the tyres were slowing going off as he had yellow sectors two and three. Martins and those behind also struggled to improve in the final stages.

So the first F2 qualifying of 2024 saw Maini take his first pole position in the championship. Taylor Barnard completed a late push to take Sprint pole position as he qualified P10, whilst Crawford stopped at Turn 10 at the end of the session. The PREMA drivers were 18th and 19th, which is not where the defending Teams’ Champions would want to be.

Qualifying Results

The results are as follows:

1 – Maini

2 – Bortoleto

3 – Hadjar

4 – Maloney

5 – Hauger

6 – Miyata

7 – O’Sullivan

8 – Fittipaldi

9 – Martins

10 – Barnard

Headline image: X @Formula2

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