Iwasa dominates F2 Feature in France

Ayumu Iwasa

Ayumu Iwasa claimed his first FIA Formula 2 victory with dominant driving in the Feature race at Paul Ricard.

The Japanese driver kept his composure after losing at the start to regain first place a half-lap later, continuing to extend a significant advantage over Theo Pourchaire after 30 laps.

Frederik Vesti completed the podium while a spin for Jack Doohan left the Australian fifth at the flag.

A strong start from Doohan saw him take the second-row lead into the first corner, with Iwasa moving into second as Logan Sargeant slipped from pole to third.

A half-lap later, Iwasa took the lead by braking Doohan in the chicane on the Mistral straight.

A tough weekend for Marcus Armstrong only got worse when he was involved in a first-lap incident forcing him to pull out and pull the safety car.

Marino Sato was also hit in a separate incident, while Dennis Hauger, who was innocently caught Armstrong, headed to the pits for a new front wing.

The safety car was retired at the end of lap 5, one lap before the mandatory pit window opened.

It was good news for Felipe Drugovich, seventh and first driver on hard tyres.

Iwasa jumped in early as the safety car pulled into place, allowing Doohan to hold a lead of over a second as they crossed the line to start Lap 6.

Running second, Doohan was at a disadvantage to the competition heading into the pit stops as he battled radio issues with his team.

This saw Virtuosi revert to using a pit board to communicate with the Australian, depriving him of the ability to react quickly to the strategy of those around him.

Théo Pourchaire, fifth, was the first of the leaders to stop at the start of the eleventh lap.

The next time Sargeant headed inboard, only to lose engine as he looked to get out of his stall.

Withdrawn, the American could not start again, his race stopping on the spot.

Doohan came to a halt on Lap 14, switching to hard tires, but his exit was momentarily delayed as Drugovich headed into the lane to switch from hard rubber to soft.

On cold tyres, Doohan came out narrowly ahead of Pourchaire, the Australian helpless to defend as he bowed out to the ART driver on the brakes at Turn 3.

It was Iwasa’s turn to box next time, the Japanese rider turned around in deft fashion as he comfortably fed on the Pourchaire/Doohan battle.

Once the field was washed out after the pit cycle, Iwasa enjoyed a more than four-second advantage in front while Pourchaire in second had Doohan chasing him with Frederik Vesti on his tail.

A move by Doohan into the chicane on the back straight on lap 19 ended in a spin for the Virtuosi driver as he looked to displace Pourchaire.

He fell to fourth as a result of the error, his tires scarred with flat spots after locking the rears and bouncing off the pavement at the top.

After dealing with his soft tires in the opening laps of the stint, Drugovich began to falter at Doohan in the closing stages.

What was a four-second gap had narrowed to just 01.5s at the start of lap 26 before, on lap 27, Drugovich used the DRS to make the move with ease as they descended the Mistral straight, Doohan offering nothing in defense.

In the lead, Iwasa had extended a lead of more than eight seconds to win the Pourchaire canter race, with the Frenchman having a lone run to the flag after seeing Doohan.

Vesti held on to third place from the speedy Drugovich, while Doohan held onto fifth place from Lawson after 30 laps of racing.

Formula 2 is in action again next weekend, supporting Formula 1 at the Hungarian Grand Prix from Friday.