Gabriel Bortoleto Takes Maiden Formula 2 Victory in Austria

Gettyimages 2159909717
Gettyimages 2159909717

Gabriel Bortoleto put in a commanding performance to take his first Formula 2 victory in an action-packed Spielberg Feature Race. The Invicta Racing rookie driver took the lead from AIX Racing’s Joshua Duerksen early on before managing his pace and tyres well to take the win ahead of a flying MP Motorsport car of Franco Colapinto in second and Campos Racing’s Isack Hadjar.

AS IT HAPPENED

There was drama before lights out as pole-sitter Dennis Hauger stalled at the start of the formation lap, alongside Kush Maini and Jak Crawford, forcing the trio to start from the pitlane.This left Duerksen as the lead car on the grid, and he made a fast start ahead of Gabriel Bortoleto with Colapinto in third and Championship leader Paul Aron fourth. Colapinto was the lone driver in the top five to start on the softs and he was coming under pressure from Aron and Isack Hadjar, who were on the Supersofts.

Further up the road, Duerksen and Gabriel Bortoleto were now battling for the lead with the Brazilian making the move down the inside at Turn 4 on Lap 4. Colapinto was next to overtake the AIX Racing driver and dived down his inside on the run to Turn 3. On Lap 6, Josep María Martí lost P6 to the Sprint Race winner Oliver Bearman, the PREMA Racing getting past at the exit of Turn 3.

Moments later, the Virtual Safety Car was deployed with Zane Maloney stopping on track. After his Rodin Motorsport car was cleared, racing resumed with a number of Supersoft runners then pitting for the Softs. That included Martí, Duerksen, Gabriel Bortoleto, Taylor Barnard, Richard Verschoor and Andrea Kimi Antonelli – the latter stalling in the pit lane, dropping him to the back of the field after a good start from P16 put him in P10.

Martí gained the most through the pitstop phase as he now had the effective race lead ahead of Gabriel Bortoleto. Hadjar, Duerksen and Aron – who was handed a five-second penalty for changing directions multiple times under braking in his earlier battle with Hadjar – followed the Spaniard.

Onto Lap 18 and Aron had now got past Duerksen, and further up the road, Bortoleto was now right on the back of Martí in the battle for what would turn out to be the lead of the race. The Brazilian driver dived down the inside of his fellow rookie at Turn 3 to take the position.

As the 24th of 40 laps started, Hadjar had closed to within DRS range of Martí as the two went toe-to-toe in the battle for sixth. As they fought for position, Aron was now closing in on the pair. The Frenchman eventually made his way by on the entry to Turn 3 with his eyes set firmly on chasing down Gabriel Bortoleto, who was two and a half seconds up the road.

Enzo Fittipaldi was also having a strong day as he made his way past his Van Amersfoort Racing teammate Rafael Villagómez and Trident’s Roman Stanek, with Duerksen his next target in P9. The battle between the two Campos drivers then resumed on Lap 32, just as the leader Colapinto made his mandatory pit stop. The MP rookie came back out in P8 behind a squabbling Fittipaldi and Duerksen.

But he quickly overtook both of them at Turns 3 and 4 on Lap 35, putting him up to fifth and just under three seconds behind Aron. Out front, Bortoleto’s lead over Hadjar was over three and a half seconds, with the Frenchman coming under pressure from Martí, Aron and a flying Colapinto.

The Argentine took P4 from Aron at Turn 4 on Lap 38 before moving past Martí on the next tour. Onto the final lap, he overtook Hadjar for second but there was no catching Bortoleto, who crossed the line to take his first Formula 2 victory. Colapinto took P2 ahead of Hadjar, with Martí in fourth and Fittipaldi in fifth. Aron’s penalty dropped him to P6 ahead of Duerksen and Amaury Cordeel, with Taylor Barnard in P9 and Zak O’Sullivan rounding out the points P10 for ART Grand Prix.

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KEY QUOTE – Gabriel Bortoleto, Invicta Racing

“P1 today in the Feature Race, so happy, it’s a special track for me. I always have good memories here, and finally I could get my first Formula 2 win. I’m super super happy, thanks to the team, McLaren and everyone that supported and helped me get on the biggest step on the podium today.”

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