Formula 2 championship leader Felipe Drugovich has extended his advantage in the standings after winning the Feature Race at Zandvoort.
The initial race start was dominated by two Logan Sargeant incidents. One that saw him lock up into the first corner, and a second in which he went off into the barrier at Turn Seven, ending his race and bringing out the red flags.
On a rolling safety-car restart, Drugovich then survived an overtake attempt from Jack Doohan during lap nine, and the efforts of home favourite Richard Verschoor to go long on his soft tyres and undercut him, to hold onto the lead.
Following two more safety cars, the Brazilian was later able to hold off a last-gasp Verschoor push for the win, to clinch a victory that puts him 70 points clear at the top of the F2 drivers’ championship.
Safety cars reshuffle the pack
With the soft tyre looking unlikely to last long, it was always going to be a Zandvoort Feature Race dominated by strategy, with the threat of safety cars looming over any driver willing to go deep into the session.
As it turned out, the first safety car caused by Sargeant’s messy attempt to overtake Ralph Boschung was closely followed by a second eight laps later, when Marino Sato’s left front wasn’t fitted properly, causing him to spear off into the barriers at Turn One.
This was then followed even more rapidly by a third, when Liam Lawson, holding the lead on the restart, decided to leave it to the very last moment to break away.
Lawson’s attempts to back up the pack caused some jostling in the midfield, and this led net-second-placed Doohan to be collected from behind, in an incident that pushed him into the barrier and ended his race.
Following the race, Roy Nissany and David Beckmann were later handed 10-second time penalties for driving erratically under the safety car, in a decision that demoted the latter from the points and promoted Jehan Daruvala into 10th.
With cars unable to take their mandatory stop under a safety car at Zandvoort due to the tight nature of the pit lane there, Lawson and Sargeant’s issues also ruined the race of title protagonist Theo Pourchaire.
The Frenchman had tried to lengthen his first stint to limit his time on the unfancied softs, but had any advantage wiped away by the safety cars. While Pourchaire was able to fight his way back into the points, ultimately claiming 9th, he finished far behind title rival Drugovich, who can now win the championship at the next event in Monza, if things go his way.
A good day to be out front?
With much of the action happening in the midfield during the safety-car restarts, it was a good day to be at the front of the pack at Zandvoort on Sunday morning.
Despite not quite having enough pace at the end to force an error from Drugovich, Verschoor was still able to fight his way up from fourth to second, and give the home crowd something to shout about.
Ayumu Iwasa also scored an impressive podium from fifth, after extending his run of having finished every race this season.
For Drugovich, having stayed out of trouble across the three safety-car restarts to clinch victory, he’s now within touching distance of F2 glory. The Brazilian’s first opportunity to win the championship will come at the season’s penultimate event in Monza, which begins on September 9, 2022.