MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 01: Dennis Hauger of Norway and MP Motorsport (1) leads the field off the line at the start during the Round 3:Melbourne Sprint race of the Formula 2 Championship at Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit on April 01, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images)
F2 Sprint Race Results: Australia
Find out what happened in Formula 2's first ever race in Melbourne
MP Motorsport’s Dennis Hauger took victory in Melbourne ahead of Jak Crawford and Kush Maini.
The accidents started before the race could even begin, with both Enzo Fittipaldi and Ralph Boschung finding the wall on the reconnaissance lap. After sustaining significant damage, neither drivers were able to continue, making two retirements before the formation lap even started.
After a slight delay, the Formula 2 Sprint Race got underway for the first time at the Albert Park Circuit. Polesitter Dennis Hauger had a good start, but faced a tough challenge from fellow Red Bull junior Jak Crawford for the remainder of the first lap. Further back, the Ferrari juniors Arthur Leclerc and Oliver Bearman battled for fourth, Leclerc winning that battle on Lap 1.
Ayumu Iwasa was the first driver to make a crucial error, locking up into Turn 1 on the second lap and sustaining a puncture, dropping him from ninth place to the back of the pack.
Crawford remained within one second of Hauger as DRS was enabled, but from Kush Maini in third to Frederik Vesti in ninth a DRS train quickly formed. Drivers had pace but were unable to pass each other, stuck in the train.
A few laps later, Crawford dropped out of DRS range from Hauger, and the race settled down.
Rain changes plans
A little over halfway into the race drivers began to hear on the radio that rain was coming. Hauger continued to pull ahead, setting the fastest lap of the race on Lap 13: a 1:31.267.
Then, on Lap 14, Australian driver Jack Doohan was tagged by the Van Amersfoort car of Juan Manuel Correa and was left stranded in the middle of the track. With rain starting to fall and the Safety Car coming out, drivers at the back made the gamble to switch to wet tyres.
Track conditions were described on the broadcast as “too dry for wets but too wet for drys,” but the wet tyre gamble quickly proved to be the wrong choice. Roman Stanek, one of the first drivers to switch, lost control straight out of the pit lane and went into the grass.
Victor Martins was another driver to switch to the wet tyre and live to regret it, locking up in pit lane and coming out a little too close to Jehan Daruvala. As a result of his pit stop, he dropped outside of the points. After all the drivers who chose to put on wet tyres, the highest placed of them was Theo Pourchaire in 12th place.
The Safety Car was set to come in at the end of Lap 18, but Brad Benavides, a victim of the wet tyre, lost control of the car at Turn 13 and went into the wall. As a result, the Safety Car stayed out until Lap 20.
With just two racing laps to go, the drivers took off again. Hauger, Crawford, and Maini the top three, all stayed the same headed into the final laps. Correa improved to 12th place, but had picked up a 10-second penalty for the contact with Doohan, ruining his chance at any real improvement.
Red Bull juniors Isack Hadjar and Zane Maloney battled for fifth on the penultimate lap, but Maloney stayed ahead. Just behind them, the PREMA cars of Vesti and Bearman fought for seventh place.
In the end, it was Hauger who crossed the line to win Formula 2’s first race in Melbourne, completing a race he controlled since the start. Rookies Crawford and Maini both picked up their maiden podiums, with Arthur Leclerc and Zane Maloney rounding out the top five.
Hadjar, Bearman, and Vesti completed the points-scorers for the Sprint Race, with Roy Nissany and Richard Verschoor completing the top ten and just missing out.
Feature Image Credit: Brynn Lennon – Getty Images
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