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Frederik Vesti at the F2 feature race in Monaco

F2 Feature Race Results: Monaco

PREMA will be happy — home hero Arthur Leclerc, not so much

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A faultless drive from Vesti saw the PREMA driver take his first victory in the Principality. 

PREMA driver Frederik Vesti in Monaco
The Mercedes Junior drove a stellar race, winning from pole position. (Image credit: PREMA on Twitter)

As we headed into round 6 of the season, it was Ayumu Iwasa who stood at the top of the championship standings. The DAMS driver took home the sprint race win on Saturday, giving him a two-point lead over Theo Pourchaire.

Whilst Iwasa started ninth, championship rival Pourchaire started third; with overtaking often tricky on the narrow streets of Monaco, it handed the ART driver a significant advantage. Meanwhile hometown hero Arthur Leclerc started down in P20, having brought out the red flags on Friday’s qualifying session.

The starting grid

It’s lights out…

Although it was a slow start for polesitter Frederik Vesti, the PREMA driver maintained his race lead as the pack headed into the first corner. Martins seemed to carry some good momentum at the start, but couldn’t convert it into an overtake on Vesti.

As the cars wound their way around the hairpin, Vesti’s teammate Oliver Bearman made a move on Clement Novalak. One overtake wasn’t enough for Bearman, who then overtook Amaury Cordeel.

Cordeel appeared to tumble down the order, before being forced to retire on lap 4, presumably having picked up some damage. Up front, Martins pulled away from his teammate Theo Pourchaire, putting over two seconds between them. Vesti, meanwhile, was leading with 1.4s over Martins.

As lap 7 began, race control noted an incident with Hauger, as they began to investigate whether the driver had left the track and gained an advantage. The first of the mandatory pit stops then began, as Clement Novalak rolled into the pits. Following him in was Ralph Boschung, opting for softs.

The Monaco curse continues?

Bad luck continued to plague the Leclerc brothers at their home race. A devastated Arthur Leclerc was forced to retire on lap 9 after reporting a brake issue.

Though the DAMS driver’s race came to a premature end, his teammate Ayumu Iwasa was enjoying quite different fortunes. Yesterday’s sprint race winner made up two places in the early stages of the race, bringing him into P8.

Meanwhile, Juan Manuel Correa and Jehan Daruvula both opted to make their pitstops, re-entering the track around the back of the pack. It was all action in the pit lane as Crawford, Fittipaldi and Benavides then made their way to the pits too.

Vesti was holding onto his race lead in comfortable fashion, over three seconds ahead of Victor Martins. The ART driver’s hold on second place seemed unchallenged, as he enjoyed a four-second lead ahead of his teammate.

Lap 15, a battle broke out between Iwasa and Bearman. The British driver had jumped ahead of Iwasa after his pitstop — but Iwasa wasn’t going to back down without a challenge. Iwasa took the inside line on the hairpin, managing to slip past the PREMA driver.

Virtual safety comes out

An engine failure for Enzo Fittipaldi brought out the virtual safety car. Fittipaldi’s engine went as he made his way through the tunnel. The Brazilian was able to safely pull his car off track, bringing the retirement count up to three.

Hauger was handed a five second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage. The MP Motorsport driver’s P7 position was thrown into jeopardy.

The virtual safety car came to an end on lap 21, and Hadjar was quick to beginning gaining on Bearman, who was sat in P12.

Doohan in the barrier

Jack Doohan’s race unravelled and came completely undone on lap 22. The Virtuosi Racing driver brought out the safety car as he collided with the barrier at Massenet, his car left stranded sideways in the middle of the track. Zane Maloney had to take evasive action, narrowly getting past the stricken car.

Doohan had taken damage to his front wing at the exit of the swimming pool chicane. It was this damage that led his car to spin round at Massenet.

For the top nine, who hadn’t yet pitted, the safety car spelled a golden opportunity. The front of the pack were quick to head to the pits. A doublestack down at ART meant that Martins and Pourchaire both suffered a slow pit stop. In Pourchaire’s case, it seemed agonisingly slow, as the car slipped off the jack.

Red flag

Debris, damage to the barrier, and fire extinguisher fluid on track gave the marshalls no choice but the wave the red flag.

As it stood during the red flag period on lap 24, Frederik Vesti was still the race leader. The order of the the front of the pack was largely unchanged, with Martins and Pourchaire still in P2 and P3 respectively.

The action continues

After a lengthy red flag period, racing got back underway with a rolling start. Martins was clearly struggling to get the temperature up in his tyres. His teammate began to heap on the pressure, as Pourchaire started to close in.

As Pourchaire continued to chase him down, Martins then came under investigation for failing to slow under yellow flags.

It then went from bad to worse for Martins. The French driver was handed down a drive through penalty, essentially ruling him out of podium contention. With this, Zane Maloney now found himself within range of the podium as he was elevated to P3.

Now P2, Theo Pourchaire sat 2.8s behind race leader Vesti. Further down the pack, Kush Maini began to gain on Hauger, challenging the MP Motorsport driver for P5. It had been a solid drive for Maini so far, who was up six positions from his P12 start.

The ART drivers took the fastest lap away from Vesti, with Pourchaire and then Martins clocking in quicker.

The final moments

The red flag period meant the race came down to a timed finish. As the clock ticked on, victory looked all but certain for Frederik Vesti, who had driven a perfectly clean race. Vesti was three seconds clear of Pourchaire, who in turn seemed set for a P2 finish, as he was a very comfortable twelve seconds ahead of Maloney.

As the chequered flag waved, Frederik Vesti became a winner on the historic streets of Monte Carlo. The PREMA driver now leads the F2 drivers’ championship standings.

The podium was rounded out by Pourchaire and Maloney, with Verschoor and Hauger closing out the top five.

Full race results can be found here.

Featured Image Credit: PREMA on Twitter

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