BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - APRIL 30: Oliver Bearman of Great Britain and PREMA Racing (8) leads Enzo Fittipaldi of Brazil and Rodin Carlin (4), Theo Pourchaire of France and ART Grand Prix (5) and the rest of the field into turn one at the start during the Round 4:Baku Feature race of the Formula 2 Championship at Baku City Circuit on April 30, 2023 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images)
F2 Feature Race results: Baku
Find out what happened in a close race in Azerbaijan for Formula 2
Oliver Bearman took his second victory of the weekend in a clean but tight Formula 2 race in Baku.
It was a good start for polesitter and yesterday’s race winner Oliver Bearman, but second-placed Enzo Fittipaldi stayed close behind. Unlike yesterday, all 22 drivers got away cleanly and avoided any contact in the first few laps.
The biggest mover in the top ten at the start was Victor Martins, who jumped from eighth on the grid to fourth on the first lap. But it wasn’t long before his ART Grand Prix teammate Theo Pourchaire was also making moves.
Early on Lap 2, Pourchaire moved from third to second past Fittipaldi and started closing in on Bearman. Then, one lap later, he made the move on the young British driver to take the lead of the race.
In a battle of youth versus experience, Bearman maintained his pace behind the third-year Formula 2 driver and managed to retake the lead into Turn 1 on Lap 4. From there it looked easier for Bearman to pull away, and he was out of the one-second DRS range of Pourchaire by the end of that lap.
Pit stops begin
The first of the mandatory pit stops started right away, with Frederik Vesti leading Arthur Leclerc and Jehan Daruvala on Lap 7 as the first drivers to pit.
With Isack Hadjar and Ayumu Iwasa the only two drivers on the alternate strategy, everyone else followed not long after to pit from soft tyres to mediums.
The top two drivers pitted on Lap 8, following one of the few yellow flags seen in this race. PHM Racing by Charouz’s Brad Benavides locked up and went into the runoff area, causing a brief red flag.
Bearman and Pourchaire came out running fourth and fifth now, behind the few drivers who had yet to pit. On Lap 9 Benavides, who had managed to recover from his earlier trip off the track, hit the wall and caused a Virtual Safety Car.
The VSC was over by Lap 11 as Benavides’ car was recovered, and the drivers were off racing again. Iwasa picked up a time penalty for a VSC infringement but remained in second place on the alternate strategy.
On Lap 14, almost halfway into the race, Daruvala messed up a chance at passing Richard Verschoor and went off the track. He rejoined right into the path of Zane Maloney, which resulted in a penalty for the Indian driver.
After that incident, things settled down, with drivers seeming much more cautious than they had in yesterday’s Sprint. But they continued to race hard and close gaps to each other, with Pourchaire closing a bit of the gap to Bearman and Martins also looking to make up ground.
But it was Fittipaldi who managed to make a move stick, following Pourchaire closely over several laps before finally getting past him on Lap 24. Now sitting in fourth place, the move would eventually put him on the podium.
With just five laps to go, Hadjar came into the pits for the soft tyre, coming out in P9. Two laps later Iwasa joined him, being the final driver to pit in this Feature Race. The alternate strategy paid off for Hadjar, who made his way from 18th at the start up to eighth place. On top of his 10-spot gain in the race, he also set the fastest lap of 1:53.478 on Lap 27.
Fittipaldi made a valiant effort in the final laps but it was Oliver Bearman who took his second win of the weekend ahead of the Brazilian driver. Pourchaire came in third and rounded out the podium, with Martins and Vesti completing the top five. Kush Maini made up eight places to come home sixth, followed by Dennis Hauger, Hadjar, and Verschoor. Jak Crawford finished tenth and took the final point of the weekend.