F2: Vesti capitalises on late Safety Car drama in Baku to seal first Formula 2 win
Mercedes protege Frederik Vesti left it late in an unpredictable Sprint Race to bring home his maiden Formula 2 victory in Baku, ahead of Jehan Daruvala and Liam Lawson.
The ART Grand Prix driver found himself a sitting duck early on behind Jake Hughes, who was eventually swallowed up by a DRS train of cars behind. Finding his way past with a daring move around the outside of the Briton, Vesti seemed comfortable in P2 before three Safety Cars in succession turned his fortunes around.
Race leader Daruvala had been well clear of his rivals when his 3.7s advantage was wiped away on Lap 14. His PREMA Racing team mate Dennis Hauger locked up and found the barriers in his battle with Theo Pourchaire, triggering the Safety Car. Leaving the restart until the last possible moment allowed the Indian driver to stop Vesti utilising the slipstream, but it did allow Richard Verschoor to make his way past Logan Sargeant into P3.
No sooner had the Safety Car returned to the pits but it was recalled, as Juri Vips found himself a victim of unfortunate circumstances. The Estonian driver got cut off by Enzo Fittipaldi, leaving him unable to turn left into Turn 2, as the pair headed into the run-off.
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Repeating his Safety Car tactics from earlier on Lap 19 backfired for Daruvala. A lock-up into the first corner gave Vesti the perfect opportunity to catapult himself into the lead.
However, the drama still wasn’t over, as Lawson, who had climbed his way up from P9, had his eye on Verschoor and the final step of the podium. On the defensive, the Trident driver went too deep at Turn 7 and his trip to the barriers brought the Safety Car back out, to set up a one-lap shootout.
With everything on the line, Vesti aced his restart to pull clear of Daruvala and Lawson. Further behind them, a multi-car collision involving Ralph Boschung and Calan Williams saw Williams crash into the barrier at Turn 1. With no room to avoid the Trident, Cem Bolukbasi and Marino Sato hit the stricken car.
Marcus Armstrong claimed fourth for Hitech, while Felipe Drugovich extended his advantage at the top of the championship with fifth. Williams junior Logan Sargeant was sixth, the American having been in the fight for a podium before the Safety Car’s arrivals. Pourchaire and Ayumu Iwasa made up five places each to round out the top eight points-scorers.
Red Bull juniors Vips and Lawson find themselves alongside one another on the front row for Sunday’s Feature Race. The 60-minute race is scheduled to get underway at 1105 local time.
For more on F2, visit the official series website.