Ayumu Iwasa took his first victory of the 2023 FIA Formula 2 season in a thrilling Sprint Race at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.
The DAMS driver, who finished fifth in the championship last year, fended off Victor Martins and Jehan Daruvala in the 20-lap race after an intense battle in the second half of the race.
Iwasa started the race fourth but surged to second by Turn 1 as the Campos pair of Ralph Boschung and Kush Maini ahead of him had slower starts. The Japanese driver then overtook pole sitter Jak Crawford into Turn 1 at the beginning of the second lap to claim the lead.
Though both Daruvala and Martins challenged him on several occasions in the second half of the race, Iwasa fended off both drivers to win the race by seven tenths of a second.
Despite winning the race, Iwasa told InsideF2 that his raw speed could have been better.
“I didn’t have great speed, so I think we need to look at the data and then we need to prepare for tomorrow, but I think during the race, what I did was quite okay. If I am fighting with someone, I think this will be helpful for tomorrow,” he said.
“Also, the condition was quite easy, especially much easier than Bahrain. The way to push and way to create the speed is completely different to Bahrain, so also, I need to adjust my approach,” Iwasa said in reference to Round 1 at Bahrain, where several drivers admitted to struggling with severe and unexpected tyre degradation.
“Tomorrow will be quite similar, or different but not so far. So I think this was quite a good target and a good difference for tomorrow.”
Last year, when F2 brought the medium and soft tyres to the circuit, the Feature Race was a largely incident-free affair that featured no safety car periods.
The 2021 Feature Race, however, ended after just five laps because of accidents during the race. Though the race featured the same allocation of tyres as this year’s will, its disrupted nature limits the utility of analysing it, Iwasa told InsideF2.
“I’m not sure about the speed and the strategy because there is not a good reference,” he said. There was a supersoft and medium race two years ago, when I was not in Jeddah, but the Feature Race didn’t finish … completely, so there was not a proper difference.
“So it’s really difficult to say, but I think what I learned from last year in Jeddah was basically [that] the situation is quite similar to other tracks apart from Bahrain,” he continued. “The pit stop will be important in terms of the pit stop timing, so we need to think about that.”
Iwasa starts the Feature Race fifth on the grid.
Image: Formula Motorsport Limited