The annual visit of Formula 2 to Monaco saw a chaotic qualifying, the maiden victory of a rookie and the second consecutive Feature Race win of a certain Brazilian driver. After another eventful weekend, join us as we recap on the action from the principality of Monaco and Round 5 of the 2022 FIA Formula 2 Championship.
By Tyler Foster
Lawson loses pole
Qualifying in Monaco is always a hectic experience but also very unique. With the issue of traffic being a constant threat to drivers on flying laps around the tight and twisty streets, the solution is to have a split qualifying session whereby drivers are put into two separate groups. This leaves half the car in the pits while the other half are on track.
Due to track evolution, the focus is usually on the second group, but it was the first group where the quickest time came from. Carlin’s Liam Lawson was fastest of anyone with an impressive final lap. As a result, it was Lawson on Pole… right?
Not quite. Felipe Drugovich had the fastest lap coming into the final minute of the first group’s session but the Brazilian pushed too hard and crashed on the exit of the final corner, eventually grinding to a halt on the main straight. With yellow flags out, drivers couldn’t improve their times but nevertheless both Lawson and Iwasa did improve. Subsequently, they saw post-session penalties for ignoring yellow flags and despite crashing Drugovich got Pole.
This was Drugovich’s second Pole Position of the season, after Jeddah, and gave the MP Motorsport driver the opportunity to score his second consecutive Feature Race victory of the season.
Hauger’s maiden win while Prema score 1-2
For Prema it certainly hasn’t been plain sailing as many thought it would be for the Italian outfit at the start of the season. A change in driver line-up has brought about a different challenge. While Jehan Daruvala has been consistent and is fighting for the title, the reigning Formula 3 champion and rookie Dennis Hauger has had a tough start for the most part.
Hauger came into Round 5 with just two points finishes, with one being a Sprint Race podium in Imola. After qualifying, Hauger and Daruvala lined up P2 and P3 respectively for the Sprint Race. Off the start line, Polesitter Jake Hughes stalled his car and gifted Hauger the lead and Prema the opportunity to score a 1-2.
With no mandatory pitstops during the Sprint Race, it was a case of defending the lead around the streets of Monaco for 30 laps. The Prema duo succeeded and as a result Hauger scored his first F2 victory and his best career result to date. Meanwhile, Daruvala managed his third Sprint Race podium, having finished runner-up in all three.
Drugovich extends his championship lead
Coming into Monaco, Felipe Drugovich had an impressive lead of 26 points over ART’s Théo Pourchaire. Ironically, following the post-qualifying penalties, it was Drugovich and Pourchaire who lined up alongside each other on the front row. The pair had between them won all four of the Feature Races prior to Round 5 and it looked very likely for this to continue.
With both drivers getting away without trouble, there was no drama until lap 19 when both drivers pitted under the Safety Car following Amaury Cordeel’s accident. Drugovich had a slow stop which gave the opportunity to Pourchaire and his ART crew to take the lead. However, in the pit box directly behind that of Drugovich, Pourchaire himself experienced a slow stop and came out just behind the anxious Brazilian.
Then on lap 34, Pourchaire had his best chance for victory as he closed within four tenths but wasn’t able to make a move for the win. Despite pestering Drugovich, he had to accept second best as the Brazilian came home for his second consecutive Feature Race victory and third of the season to extend his title lead over the Frenchman to 32 points.
This was Drugovich’s third win in the last four races, which just highlights the level of performance that he has found.
Hitech make their mark at Monaco
The duo of Jüri Vips and Marcus Armstrong looked promising for Hitech but both drivers have struggled for consistency despite some solid results within the first four rounds. The teammates finally got their act together as they both managed a double-points finish in Monaco.
It is Armstrong who has been impressing throughout the Sprint Races, while Vips has been performing more in the Feature Races. This trend continued as the Kiwi managed a third-place finish on Saturday, while the Estonian finished third on Sunday.
We spoke to both Armstrong and Vips across the weekend about their performances. The Hitech pair are only a point off each other, with Armstrong in fourth on 50 points and Vips in fifth on 49 points. With Baku coming up next round, Hitech will be excited after scoring a Pole and two race wins there last year.
Pourchaire looking to fight back
While Pourchaire was overshadowed by championship leader Felipe Drugovich once again, he still had an impressive weekend having scored points in both races. A sixth-place in the Sprint Race followed by a second-place podium on Sunday was a mark that Pourchaire is certainly still a title favourite.
Since Jeddah, he has scored points in all six races and speaks confidently about both his team and himself. He said that there is still room to improve and he is certainly right. No 18-year-old in motorsport has ever reached their peak and the young Frenchman is widely touted as Sauber’s next great prospect since a certain Monegasque by the name of Charles Leclerc.
Pourchaire has already scored over half the points that he scored last year (81 as of now compared to 140 last year), and we are not even at the halfway stage of the season yet. It is clear that he is improving all the time and despite being 32 points behind the rampant Drugovich, he has everything within his arsenal to pressurise the Brazilian and fight for the title all the way up until the final round.
Header photo credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd
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