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The safety car at the Spa F2 Sprint Race. (Photo Credit: Formula 2).
The safety car at the Spa F2 Sprint Race. (Photo Credit: Formula 2).

F2: Drugovich’s colossal safety car gamble pays off in Spa Sprint Race

Drugovich gambled on a set of softs to extend his title lead in the first F2 race of the weekend

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Carlin’s Liam Lawson won the 2022 Formula 2 Sprint Race at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps circuit. 

Liam Lawson after winning the Spa Sprint Race. (Photo Credit: Formula 2).
Liam Lawson after winning the Spa Sprint Race. (Photo Credit: Formula 2).

After being forced onto the grass into Turn One, Lawson was able to fight back, overtaking polesitter Ralph Boschung on the Kemmel Straight under DRS, and he ultimately took the flag 3.8 seconds clear of the field. 

That was despite Logan Sargeant’s 11th lap crash, which brought out the Safety Car to decimate the Kiwi’s then 4-second lead and leave him vulnerable to championship leader Felipe Drugovich, who was charging through the field. 

Speaking after the race, Lawson said that while he was “devastated” to see the Safety  Car come out during the session, he’s ultimately delighted with his points haul heading into the Feature Race tomorrow.

“We were in a pretty good position [before the Safety Car], and it sort of gives everyone a chance to reset and cool their tires, but honestly on the restart, the car was good again straight away,” said Lawson.

“I was watching the screens around the whole track trying to look for Felipe to see where he was. But luckily it was enough.

“It’s nice to make up some points,” he added. “Obviously, the season’s not going exactly how we planned, so hopefully we can continue this and finish off strongly.”

Drugovich’s gamble pays off

Championship leader Drugovich qualified on pole yesterday, meaning that he started the reverse grid session in 10th. 

The Brazilian had made his way up to sixth after some bold first-lap manoeuvres, but as the race settled into something of a DRS train, he chose to gamble by pitting onto a set of slicks when the Safety Car came out. 

Doing so brought Drugovich out in 12th behind a top 11 running entirely on harder rubber. But, as the title leader’s team told him during the race, he was also four seconds per lap faster than those in front, hence he was able to make his way up to fourth. 

On the flipside, fellow title challenger Theo Pourchaire struggled to compete at the front throughout. Despite effectively starting second with Jehan Daruvala not making the race start, the Frenchman couldn’t make his way back into contention after falling to fifth. 

Unlike Drugovich, Pourchaire then stayed out for the last four laps, leaving him vulnerable to the Brazilian on worn rubber. By only claiming sixth place, the Frenchman has now allowed Drugovich to extend his lead in the overall standings to 25 points. 

Drugovich overtaking Pourchaire at the Spa F2 Sprint Race. (Photo Credit: Formula 2).
Drugovich overtaking Pourchaire at the Spa F2 Sprint Race. (Photo Credit: Formula 2).
Boschung’s triumphant return 

After an action-packed start, in which Lawson and Drugovich’s bold moves were also replicated further down the field by Juri Vips and Ayumu Iwasa, the race seemed to settle into a pattern.

In the early stages, Pourchaire appeared to be leaving Drugovich behind, and he was even able to hold position after an eighth lap lock-up into the final corner.

The Safety Car then changed the race, re-bunching the pack, and seemed to set the Brazilian on a victory course. However, his move on Vips into Turn Five backfired when he pulled the overtake off-track and had to give the position back.

This gave Jack Doohan as well as Lawson and Boschung, enough time to scamper up the road and keep their podium places. The latter, in particular, was delighted with his finish given his continued struggles with facet joint syndrome, an arthritis-like condition that had kept him off the grid up to today’s race.

“I’m kind of speechless to be honest. I didn’t really expect that coming here,” Boschung said post-race. “Obviously I struggled with with a serious neck injury and maybe it was a little bit too early to come back for Spa. But I think it was the right call because now we’re on the podium!”

“I was a little bit on the edge at the end physically, but you know, the car is super quick,” he added. “So I think tomorrow we can have a good race.”

With the starting grid for Sunday’s Feature Race being based on Friday Qualifying, Drugovich will start on pole, ahead of Enzo Fittipaldi in second and Sargeant in third.  

The F2 Feature Race begins at 9:20am (BST) on Sunday August 28, 2022. 

F2 Sprint Race Classification

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Featured Image Credit: Formula 2 Twitter

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