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Formula 2/3 Report from Barcelona

Formula 2/3 Report from Barcelona

Formula 2/3 Report from Barcelona

Formula 2’s round six of the 2024 season saw Victor Martins and Jak Crawford take maiden victories this season, while in Formula 3, Arvid Lindblad became the first double winner.

Starting with F2, Martins managed to reach the top step of the podium after winning the Sprint Race, while Jak Crawford also took a maiden 2024 win in the Feature race.

Coming into Barcelona for Round 6 of the 2024 FIA Formula 2 Championship, only two drivers were able to win more than one race. Double the pleasure was enjoyed by Rodin team’s Boy from Barbados as 20-year-old Zane Maloney impressively won both the Sprint and Feature races in the opening round back in March at Sakhir International Circuit, Bahrain. French driver for Spanish Campos team Isack Hadjar won back-to-back Feature events at Albert Park and Imola.

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F2 Qualifying

In a very tight one hour qualifying session Estonian Paul Aron took pole position by 0.002s ahead of Crawford. Row two featured Latin neighbors, Argentine Franco Colapinto and Brazilian Gabriel Bortoleto.

F1 hopeful for 2025 Andrea “Kimi” Antonelli qualified fifth. Oliver Bearman, the Star of Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was 15th on the grid.

F2 Sprint Race

Indian driver Kush Maini started from reverse grid pole position with Frenchman Martins sharing the front row. The field of 22 cars all made a clean start, Martins got the jump on Maini to lead going into Turn 1 of the 26 lap Sprint race. By the end of the opening lap Maini was demoted to fourth by Ritomo Miata and Juan Manuel Correa. Maini and his Brazilian Invicta Racing teammate Gabriel Bortoleto immediately launched a joint counterattack on Correa, and both passed him on the second lap of the race.

Miyata shadowed Martins in the early laps but was unable to dethrone the French driver from the race lead. Lap 6, Hadjar complained to his team about “Kimi” Antonelli saying “he’s moving a lot under braking”. Meanwhile, Antonelli’s Prema teammate Oliver Bearman was languishing in 17th. The Briton was soon informed by his team of a third and final track limit transgression.

Bearman responded: “It’s hard not to do track limits when I can’t ****** turn.

Up front Miyata was setting fast laps but could not get within DRS range of Martins. Lap 12, Antonelli lost two places to Hadjar and Crawford. On the same lap Antonelli’s teammate, Bearman, was told to box and park his car.

Lap 17 came the ruling, five seconds track limit penalty for second place Miyata. Later, he would receive another five-second penalty for a separate infraction. On Lap 20 of 26, tremendous pressure was applied by Correa to grab fourth from Bortoleto. The Brazilian put on a strong defense as this was for third step of the podium thanks to 10s-time penalty for Miyata.

On the penultimate lap in Turn 10, Correa was able to pass Bortoleto to take his first podium in F2 since his tragic 2019 collision at Spa with Anthoine Hubert which proved fatal for the French driver.

The Alpine junior Martins led from start to finish for his first victory of the season by 4.4s from pole sitter Maini was able to salvage second after a slow getaway.

F2 Feature Race

As the five lights went off, Estonian driver, Paul Aron led the field from pole position, but the race was over for Saturday’s winner Martins in turn one after a love tap from Norwegian driver Dennis Hauger. Both cars were stranded in the gravel and safety car was deployed.

The lights turned green on lap four and immediately Antonelli reported to his team of rain on the racetrack. At the end of this lap, Aron led from three drivers from the Americas, Crawford, was second, followed by Colapinto and Bortoleto. Hadjar had moved into the top five after an impressive start from 11th on the grid.

The first change in the top five came on lap eight when Joshua Durksen from Paraguay demoted Hadjar to 6th. Crawford was the first among top five runners to pit for change of tyres on Lap 9. Three laps later the top two, Aron and Colapinto, made their mandatory tyre change. Aron came out ahead of Crawford but the American on warm tyres quickly passed him for ninth place and net lead of the race. Top three but still to pit for new tyres were Durksen, Correa and  Maini. 

On lap 16, Aron went into the kitty litter but was able to get back on the track, this off-road excursion cost him three positions. A lap later technical issues hit race leader, Durksen, and he was out of the race. This put Correa in the lead with Maini third. The race was under VSC, and action resumed on Lap 20. Top five were Correa, Maini, Verschoor, Colapinto and Marti.

On Lap 25 of 37, the top five, and still to pit for change of rubber were, Correa, Maini, Cordeel, Marti and Antonelli. Net race leader Crawford was sixth, behind him was Colapinto. A lap later Crawford moved into the top five after passing Antonelli.

Lap 28, Correa pits in from the lead. After all the front runners had completed their tyre change, Crawford was back in the lead on Lap 29 by 3.8s over Colapinto. Man on the move in the closing stages of the race was Correa on soft tyres, passing Hadjar on Lap 31 with a little help from DRS and before the lap was over, he had passed Bortoleto for fourth. Correa wasted no time in grabbing third from Aron. Correa’s next target was Colapinto in second. The Miami-based DAMS driver had the pace but ran out of laps and had to settle for third step of the podium, allowing Colapinto to maintain his second-place position.

At the end of Lap 37, a cool and calculated drive gave victory to the American driver from Charlotte, North Carolina. This was the second career victory, and first Feature Race win, for Jak “JetPak” Crawford.

F2 Championship standings

Paul Aron, a member of Mercedes junior team and in his first season of F2, leads the championship with 100 points. Hadjar, part of the Red Bull brigade, is second on 91 points. Maloney, a Sauber Academy driver, is third with 75 points. Sunday’s Feature race winner Crawford (ex-Red Bull junior) is fourth with 62 points. He scored the most points (30) over the Spanish weekend. Completing the top five is another ex-Red Bull junior Dennis Hauger on 56 points. 

Moving on to F3, the first eight races of the season produced eight different winners. Red Bull junior Arvid Lindblad won in his F3 debut in Bahrain. After blowing a 100 plus point advantage in last year’s Italian F4 Championship this was just what the Doctor ordered. The Doctor, as in Dr. Marko, demands performance. And he wants it now. As young Kacper Sztuka found out the hard way. Ironically, it was the Polish driver who staged that great comeback to grab the championship from Lindblad, based on that Sztuka was inducted into the Red Bull junior program.

That was last year. Just last week Dr. Marko served him his usual notice, ‘your services are no longer required.’ Poor Sztuka’s crime was only one point scoring finish in the first eight races. The second coming of Kubica did not even make it to the end of the first half of the season.

C’est la vie. Red Bull juniors’ Boulevard of Broken Dreams is well traveled.

The F3 young guns returned to familiar ground, Barcelona, as they had done a three-day test at the Montmelo circuit last April. Leading the championship, Sicilian Gabriele Mini with 72 points, four points ahead of Luke Browning. Third, another four points behind, coming to Barcelona weekend was Leonardo Fornaroli.

F3 Qualifying

Difference of 0.03s gave first career pole position to Australian Christian Mansell over Lindblad for FIA Formula 3 100th race on Sunday. Bulgarian Nikolai Tsolov qualified third. sharing the second row with Luke Browning. German Red Bull junior Oliver Goethe was fifth on the grid ahead of Fornaroli.

F3 Sprint Race

Mexican Santiago Ramos led into the first corner from reverse grid pole position, pursued by French driver Sami Meguetounif, local lad Mari Boya and Irishman Alex Dunne. There was a mad scramble for various positions as drivers fought to move ahead. Most impressive was four wide going into turn one on Lap 2. Ballsy and gutsy move from the outside by Christian Mansell – something to do with the name – put the Aussie mate ahead. All this for thirteenth place!

Upfront, the Trident teammates, Ramos and Meguetounif, fought for the lead resulting in a Rosberg and Hamilton déjà vu. Meguetounif, using DRS, forced the issue, went off track and slid into Ramos. Muguetounif’s race was over on the spot, Ramos came into the pits with a flat rear tire. Harem scarem at the front allowed home boy Mari Boya to become race leader, followed by Dunne and Goethe.

Lap 3 safety car was deployed, and under yellow flag conditions Nikita Bedrin and Callum Voisin collided. Green means go on Lap 8. The home crowd was pleased as Boya stayed in front and in charge. After a few laps, the field spread out.

Drive of the day came from Sebastian Montoya. The Miami-based Colombian F3 driver and son of Juan Pablo, started 27th and climbed up to 12th. in the closing stages of the race. It all came to a crashing halt on Lap 18 when he collided with Gabriele Mini. Not surprisingly, each driver blamed the other. The two initially made contact and then the Sicilian driver locked up and crashed into Sebastian. Safety car was back on track and led the cars to the chequered flag at the end of Lap 21.

Local driver Boya was the winner. His first in F3. Irish driver Alex Dunne was second to score his first podium of the season. Third man on the podium was Goethe. This was 99th race of the modern F3 era and produced ninth different winner in as many races. 

F3 Feature Race

The 100th F3 race of the modern era finally produced the first double winner of the season. The 25-lap race saw the front row starters – pole sitter Mansell and Lindblad – maintain their respective positions going into Turn 1 and at the end of the opening lap. Tsolov, Browning and Fornaroli completed the top five.

Lindblad launched an attack on race leader Mansell, and finally took the lead on Lap 5. By now Browning had passed Tsolov for third. At the end of ten laps the top five remained unchanged, Lindblad, Mansell, Browning, Tsolov and Fornaroli. Saturday’s Sprint race winner, Boya, was 10th, ahead of Ferrari Driver Academy’s Swede Dino Beganovic. Montoya was 19th ahead of another second-generation driver, Charlie Wurz.

German Sophia Floersch, the only female racer in the series, and member of Alpine Racing Academy was 22nd.

Rain in Spain started falling on the track on Lap 15. Lap 22 Fornaroli passed Tsolov to take fourth. Man in third Browning was less than two seconds ahead with three laps to go. Fornaroli got on the podium on the final lap after passing Browning going into Turn 1 as rain intensified. Goethe was also able to get by him to demote the British driver to fifth place finish.

Lindblad, the youngest driver in the series and only in his second full season of single seater racing, took his second victory of the season for Italian Prema Racing. He won the season opening Sprint Race in Bahrain and becomes the first driver to have more than one victory so far this season.

The last lap hustle has propelled Fornaroli to the top of the championship standings with 84 points. Browning is second on 79 points. Mini, who came to Barcelona leading the championship, now slips to third with 72 points. A single point ahead of Sunday’s winner, Lindblad. Fifth is Beganovic on 65 points.

The next F2 and F3 round is at the Red Bull Ring with the Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix.