Dutch driver Richard Verschoor takes the win in the final laps of the Feature Race. The last win for the VAR driver was the 2022 Sakhir Sprint Race and this must have felt like redemption following a win and susqeuent disqualification in 2022 at the same track.
For Sunday’s Formula 2 Feature Race at the Red Bull Ring, Alpine Academy driver Victor Martins lined up on pole after finishing second in the reverse grid Sprint.
The start was vital for Martins to retain his position, however, too much wheel spin left him vulnerable to cars behind. Vesti seized the lead from second, leaving Martins in third after the first corner.
Martins struggles left him close to cars behind as Maini made a late breaking move. Doohan followed past but Martins stuck with the two drivers, keeping under a second behind to use DRS.
By Lap 5, the Red Bull Academy driver, Dennis Hauger, had gained ground on Cordeel and whilst attempting to make a move on the straight, was run onto the grass.
Hauger managed to wrestle the car back onto the track but quickly lost two places to Leclerc and Iwasa.
The pit stop window opened on Lap 7 but only Cordeel made the early jump to change off of the supersoft tyres which were degrading much quicker than the alternative strategy runners on the softs.
Many of the supersoft runners came into the pit lane during Lap 9, earning a response from three of the podium contenders (Doohan, Martins and Vesti).
Martins came back into the fight, successfully getting past Maini who overtook him a few laps previously.
Bearman too came into the fight, vulnerable in the Driver Standings as close contenders looked to be scoring large amounts of points in Austria. He passed Crawford, yesterday’s Sprint Race winner, and began his charge to catch up to those ahead.
Coming into the pits, Hauger’s rear tyre crossed the white line of the pit entry. Stanek quickly reported this to his Trident team and laps later Hauger was handed a 5 second penalty for ‘Not Following Race Director’s Instructions’.
Doohan became the first car to receive the black and white flag for track limits on Lap 15, being reminded he had two strikes on the radio by his team. However, Kush Maini was the first to be handed a 5 second penalty for track limits by the FIA.
Vesti was easily past both Crawford and Hadjar but lost time behind the DAMS of Arthur Leclerc. Finally finding a way past, Leclerc then turned into the pits but a loose wheel rolling off after his pit stop meant he had to retire the car on the side of the track.
The stranded car of Leclerc brought out a VSC but one lap later, the full Safety Car followed. This meant mandatory stops could be completed and the alternative strategy runners had the opportunity to make moves on the restart.
Under the safety car, Verschoor was handed a 5 second penalty for track limits which was soon removed after further investigation.
The restart came on Lap 33 with Vesti in the lead. He had a clean start, getting away from Doohan.
Verschoor’s tyres were in the perfect window to make moves, which he did when he made an early move on Martins and then Pourchaire, ending up in third.
Both Juan Manuel Correa and Fittipaldi faced the unfortunate side of the restart, both losing positions and falling in the field. Stanek retired the car into the pit lane.
Going wide at Turn 1 in the background, Maini suffered a puncture from minor contact with Hauger. Pulling off to the side of the track near a large gap, the VSC was brought out.
The VSC ended with very few racing laps left and benefitted those on the super soft tyres. Bearman found his way past an unlucky Martins whilst Verschoor charged ahead to second.
Brad Benavides was given a 5 second penalty for track limits on the closing laps and both Correa and Maini were to be investigated after the race. Correa for a safety car infringement and Maini for failing to serve a penalty correctly.
On Lap 39/40 Verschoor took the lead from Vesti who was then overtaken by Iwasa. The battle continued to the end of the race as Iwasa made desperate attempts to find his way past Verschoor but he crossed the line in second.
“This was for Dilano” Verschoor commented over his radio after the loss of his close friend at Spa-Francorchamps the previous day.
Image: Formula Motorsport Limited