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F2 Sprint Race results: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Find out what happened in the penultimate race of the 2023 Formula 2 season

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Frederik Vesti took his sixth win of the season to stay in the title fight ahead of Enzo Fittipaldi and Richard Verschoor.

Vesti
Sprint Race winner Frederik Vesti celebrates in parc ferme (Image Credit: Dan Istitene – Getty Images)

The troubles started even before the race, as Trident’s Paul Aron stalled at the start of the formation lap, and then Arthur Leclerc stalled at the start of the race.

Everyone else got away nicely, except for Juan Manuel Correa who spun in the first sector and brought out the Safety Car.

Out in front, the reverse grid polesitter Enzo Fittipaldi got away well but was instantly put under pressure by Frederik Vesti. The pair went side by side until Turn 2, when Fittipaldi pulled away. But it wasn’t long before Vesti came back and took the lead, with third and fourth-placed Isack Hadjar and Richard Verschoor joined the now four-way fight for the lead.

By the time the Safety Car came out, Fittipaldi was leading Hadjar, Verschoor, and Vesti.

Battle for the lead

After a solid restart on Lap 6, Fittipaldi held the lead from Hadjar. By Lap 7, the Brazilian was already lingering out the edge of the DRS zone, close to blocking Hadjar’s opportunity for any help with overtaking.

Vesti, restarting from fourth, wasn’t done with his fight in this race. He made it up to third place on the first lap after the restart and set the fastest lap of the race so far on Lap 8. But his title rival, Theo Pourchaire, was also making up places.

Pourchaire, who started 14th, made his way up to eighth and into the points-scoring places. With 25 points between Pourchaire and Vesti in the standings and only ten points on offer for the Sprint Race winner, Vesti was going to need as many points as he could get to stay in the fight.

So the Mercedes junior driver kept pushing, taking second place from Hadjar a few laps later, even as Pourchaire passed Ayumu Iwasa for seventh place.

Fittipaldi held the lead but Vesti was closing in, gaining a tenth or two or three every lap and inching closer to his chance at victory. By Lap 17 he had closed the gap to less than a second, and with the aid of DRS he was ready to make a pass.

His opportunity didn’t come until Lap 20, as Fittipaldi hung out until he locked up and made a mistake that allowed Vesti to take the lead of the race at the following corner.

Closing stages

Further down the field, Verschoor held the final podium position but the battle for fourth was raging between Hadjar and Dennis Hauger. Behind them, tomorrow’s polesitter Jack Doohan was also close to the fight from sixth. Despite staying close for most of the race, the trio of drivers stayed in the same positions until the final lap, when Hauger pulled a move on Hadjar to take fourth place.

Behind them, the field stayed calm and organised throughout the 23 laps of the last Sprint Race of the 2023 Formula 2 season. Vesti took his sixth win of the season with PREMA Racing, staying in the fight for the title, which he’ll fight out with Pourchaire tomorrow.

Fittipaldi and Verschoor completed the podium ahead of Hauger and Hadjar. Doohan stayed sixth, with Pourchaire scoring two points in seventh place. The final point went to Iwasa, with Zane Maloney and Oliver Bearman just outside the points in ninth and tenth.

Feature Image Credit: Clive Mason – Getty Images

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