Saturday, March 2, 2024

Victor Martins Claims First Formula 2 Victory in Thrilling Round 9 at Rain-Soaked Silverstone Circuit

Round 9 of the FIA Formula 2 championship saw the first victory for Victor Martins, with an amazing wet weather drive, and a closer championship battle at the historic Silverstone Circuit. Two thrilling races, practice and qualifying sessions, and furious on-track action took place over the course of the weekend. The results of the first race set the grid for the second race in a reversed grid arrangement, adding an element of unpredictability and excitement. The starting grid for the first race was chosen by the qualifying session.

Free Practice

The weekend started off with championship contender Ayumu Iwasa of DAMS setting a benchmark of 1:41.539. ART’s Victor Martins led the session along with his Alpine Academy teammate Jack Doohan until the Red Bull junior took the lead.

Around the 24-minute mark, Van Amersfoort Racing’s Juan Manuel Correa spun off into the gravel of Corpse and therefore brought out the red Flag. Victor Martins had once again taken the lead with a 1:41.653 before MP Motorsport’s Dennis Hauger’s spin at Brooklands brought out the Virtual Safety Car.

With Less than 5 minutes left in the session, every driver brought out their flying laps. Iwasa came on top of the board with a 1:41.593, followed by Martins, Doohan, Arthur Leclerc, Enzo Fittpaldi, Jack Crawford, Home Hero Ollie Bearman coming in seventh, Theo Pourchaire, Richard Verschoor, and Dennis Hauger, who rounded out the top 10, as Trident’s Clement Novalak brought out the red flag as he spun off at Stowe, ultimately ending the session with two minutes to go.

Qualifying 

ART’s Victor Martins secured first place, setting a time of 1:39.832, and is set to start the feature race ahead of his grid-mates, with CamposKush Maini joining him in the front row and Iwasa coming up from third place as he set the first benchmark of 1:41.100, which was matched exactly by his Dams teammate Arthur Leclerc.

Victor Martins took provisional pole by beating Verschoor with a time of 1:40.576. Virtuosi’s Amaury Cordeel brought out the red flag after spinning off into the barriers at Copse. With less than eight minutes remaining after the second red flag was cleared, Iwasa was back on top but was beaten by the home hero Bearman as Prema’s Frederik Vesti tried to set a lap time due to the deletion of his previous lap time.

Vesti came to a stop and brought out the yellow flag at the end of the session, with Martins on top, followed by Maini, Iwasa, Doohan, Bearman, Fittipaldi, Maloney, Pourchaire, Hadjar, and Vesti completing the top ten. The championship leader on the reverse grid pole for the sprint race.

Sprint Race

Frederik Vesti led the Silverstone sprint race to the very end, enforcing his championship lead by 13 seconds over Theo Pourchaire and Jack Doohan.

The reverse grid sprint race started on a wet track with the championship leading on a flying start as his Prema teammate and home hero Oliver Bearman made a daring and amazing move on Fittipaldi on the outside of Becketts, immediately securing fourth place.

Iwasa was seen slowing down, leading to a collision between Brad Benavides and Clement Novalak, with the former spinning off and the latter receiving a 5-second penalty. The event led to a safety car deployment.

The green flag was out with Vesti getting away to maintain his lead once again, Bearman charging on Theo Pourchaire, taking a podium position with an immediate attack on Hadjar with a brilliant dummy move going further up to second place, but his spin at Club resulted in losing both positions.

Down in a long-drawn battle for sixth position between Fittipaldi and polesitter Martins as they drove side by side, with the former keeping his position.

Another Long battle for the final podium step between Bearman and Doohan ensued, with the former going defensive, which ultimately resulted in a lockup for the Brit, who ran into the gravel and came out behind Hadjar in sixth place.

Victor Martins and Arthur Leclerc were the final point scorers, with Nisanny and Maloney in the top ten.

Feature Race

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 08: Frederik Vesti of Denmark and PREMA Racing (7) leads the field at the start during the Round 9:Silverstone Sprint race of the Formula 2 Championship at Silverstone Circuit on July 08, 2023 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images)
Credit: Joe Portlock – Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images

Victor Martins took his first FIA Formula 2 victory, out-driving his five-second penalty by creating a seven-second gap between himself and Carlin’s “Boy from Barbados,” Zane Maloney, who settled for second as ART’s Theo Pourchaire secured third place, making the podium an ART one-three.

As the lights went out, Iwasa was the first to gain, leading the race. Martins was quick to battle for his position but went over track limits, which earned him a five-second penalty.

The first yellow flag of the race came on lap seven following Cordeel’s spin, with the green flags coming out on lap eleven, which saw a three-person incident, including championship leader and sprint race winner Fredrik Vesti at Vale, where he was struck from behind by Hauger, sending the Prema driver into Trident’s Stanek, which had once again brought out the safety car. Roy Nisanny was handed a ten-second penalty after being found responsible for his contact with Hauger, which led to a domino incident.

The race resumed on lap 15, with Maloney making moves on Boschung and Iwasa before the safety car was once again brought out on lap 17 as both the Campos cars of Kush Maini and Boschung made contact, taking each other out. The Indian driver hit his teammate while trying to get in front of Ollie Bearman. The British Ferrari Academy racer was handed a 5-second penalty for the incident.

Victor Martins’ great lap times helped him create a gap large enough to render his penalty void and secure his first-ever Formula 2 victory.

Vesti’s retirement and Pourchaire’s podium resulted in a six-point gap between the two in the championship battle, and Iwasa stays in third place with Ollie Bearman as the top rookie in the championship battle. Prema Racing leads the constructor’s championship on 227 points, with ART a close second on 217 points, followed by Dams in third on 150 points.

“I knew I had great pace and to just keep the consistency throughout 10 laps, I would get the five seconds. Honestly, I was just pushing. Obviously, I was pushing super hard, but I did no mistakes and it’s what mattered there.” said race winner Victor Martins.

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