Felipe Drugovich stamped his authority on the 2022 Formula 2 Championship, winning at Zandvoort to go within a whisker of securing the Drivers’ title.
The MP Motorsport driver won his fifth race of the campaign ahead of Richard Verschoor, who claimed a home race podium. Ayumu Iwasa made an overcut work to round out the podium.
An early red flag and multiple Safety Car restarts led to the race going to time rather than the allotted 40-lap distance. Jack Doohan had been in contention for victory until contact on the second Safety Car resumption put him out of the running.
AS IT HAPPENED
Drugovich covered off Doohan into Turn 1 but from third on the road, Logan Sargeant locked up and dropped right to the back following a trip through the gravel at the first corner. That allowed Dennis Hauger into third.
At Turn 7, Sargeant’s day came to an end and the Safety Car was deployed. The Carlin driver went into the barriers in a separate incident to his first corner error but was out of the car under his own power. Contact with Ralph Boschung led to front wing damage which then became caught under his car, leading him straight into the barriers. It required repairs and meant the race was red-flagged on Lap 4.
Racing resumed with a rolling restart entering Lap 6. Drugovich went early to get things back underway, accelerating out of Turn 12 to maintain his lead comfortably. Clément Novalak and Marcus Armstrong made slight contact on the exit of Turn 1 fighting over seventh, but the pair were able to continue without dropping a position.
Doohan had DRS on Drugovich but a big lock-up from the Virtuosi Racing driver on Lap 9 into the first corner meant he had to file back in behind with a major flat spot as a result. Novalak made his mandatory stop after battling with Lawson for sixth on Lap 10 while Hauger was in on Lap 11 from third.
The Virtuosi team called their charger in on Lap 13 with his front left almost down to the canvas following the lock-up. He rejoined well clear of Hauger, but Ayumu Iwasa pulled off the overcut to gain the place on the PREMA Racing driver, taking 12th on the road.
Drugovich responded to his closest challenger on the following lap. The Championship leader came out a handful of seconds up the road over Doohan, who was stuck behind Tatiana Calderon, yet to make her mandatory stop. He cleared the Charouz Racing System driver at Turn 10 and had the MP just over a second ahead on the road.
Richard Verschoor opted to run longer than any of the leaders and he made his stop on Lap 15. He came back out into that one second gap, providing Drugovich with breathing room. Doohan immediately dispatched the Trident driver at Turn 3 before refocusing on the MP man over a second up the road.
The Safety Car was out once again on Lap 17 after Marino Sato found the barriers at Turn 2, with a wheel becoming detached following his pit stop. The reappearance of the Safety Car ruined Lawson, Armstrong, Vesti and Pourchaire’s strategy, with all four yet to make their mandatory stop. Rules for the Zandvoort weekend prevented them from doing so under Safety Car due to the lack of space in the pit lane.
The Safety Car was withdrawn entering Lap 22 but Lawson left it as late as possible to make his getaway. It caught out plenty behind and contact between several drivers left a number out on the spot. Doohan was one of those who got caught up in the melee, tagged by Verschoor from behind. The Virtuosi driver was out along with Novalak and Calderon and the Safety Car was deployed once more.
Racing got back underway on Lap 26 and Lawson bolted much earlier. Armstrong was in immediately for his mandatory stop to leave Pourchaire and Vesti second and third. Drugovich was fourth on the road ahead of Verschoor as the leading duo with their stops completed.
Pourchaire stopped on Lap 27 for his swap to softs and filtered out in 14th. Lawson stopped one lap later from the race lead to come back out in 13th but with cold tyres, and lost the spot to Pourchaire into Turn 8. He closed down the 13-second gap to Calan Williams in a handful of laps to take 11th on the penultimate lap with a cutback out of Turn 1. On the final tour, the Frenchman pipped Jehan Daruvala at Turn 10 for the final points-paying position in tenth.
Due to the delays and earlier stoppage, the Feature went to time rather than the full 40-lap distance. After taking the lead, Drugovich was comfortable out in front and he claimed victory to put himself within touching distance of the 2022 Drivers’ Championship.
Verschoor made it onto the podium at his home event ahead of Iwasa in the DAMS. Hauger ended up two seconds down the road in P4 ahead of Enzo Fittipaldi and Amaury Cordeel. Jüri Vips, Beckmann, Olli Caldwell and Pourchaire rounded out the top 10
KEY QUOTE – Felipe Drugovich, MP Motorsport
“Extremely happy with the race, it was an eventful one but we managed to get the job done for the Dutch team at Zandvoort, so I’m really happy with the result.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP VIEW
Felipe Drugovich is on the brink of being crowned Champion in 2022. His lead over Pourchaire now stands at 70 points, all but ending the Frenchman’s hopes of fighting back to take the battle to Abu Dhabi. A hard-fought point for the ART Grand Prix driver brings his total to 163. The rest of the top five failed to score in the Feature Race, meaning Sargeant remains ahead of Doohan and Lawson in third, fourth and fifth places respectively.
In the Teams’ Standings, MP jumps up from third to first to lead the way, now on 269 points. ART now sits on 254 points in second ahead of Carlin, third on 249.
Formula 2 heads to Monza next weekend for the penultimate weekend of the Championship from September 9-11.