F2: Vesti keeps title fight alive with Abu Dhabi Sprint Race victory
Frederik Vesti has forced the fight to be crowned the 2023 FIA Formula 2 champion all the way down to the final day of the season, fighting back to win the Sprint Race in Abu Dhabi.
Dropping from fourth to second on the opening lap, the PREMA Racing driver looked rapid as he climbed back up the order, snatching the lead away from Red Bull junior Enzo Fittipaldi with two laps to go.
The title battle now hinges on the 14th and final Feature Race, as championship leader Theo Pourchaire limited the damage to his campaign by going from 14th to seventh. Only 16 points separate him and the Mercedes junior, with 26 points to play for.
Going four-wide with the Rodin Carlin, Isack Hadjar and Richard Verschoor on the opening lap, Vesti made his way back past Verschoor after an early Safety Car restart, following Juan Manuel Correa’s spin.
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Dispatching Hitech Pulse-Eight’s Hadjar on Lap 10, he sliced a 2.3s gap away in seven laps. Capitalising on a lock-up from Fittipaldi, Vesti dived past to take his sixth victory of the season 3.8s clear of the Brazilian, while securing a crucial point for fastest lap.
Verschoor rounded out the podium for Van Amersfoort Racing, while Hadjar lost out on fourth on the final lap, unable to keep MP Motorsport’s Dennis Hauger at bay.
Alpine junior Jack Doohan climbed from 10th to sixth ahead of Pourchaire and Ayumu Iwasa sealed the final point available in eighth.
Everything is on the line in the Feature Race, with the drivers’ and teams’ titles still to play for. Pole-sitter Doohan will get racing under way on Sunday at 1315 local time.