Japan’s Ayumu Iwasa (DAMS) won the 30-lap Formula 2 Sprint Race at the 80th Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday afternoon, making the most of the early retirement of Frenchman Isack Hadjar (HiTech), who started from pole position on an inverted grid but suffered an engine failure at the start of lap 6.
The start was delayed by 5 minutes, then Hadjar took off best, passing first at Sainte-Dévote, under threat from Iwasa, another promising member of Red Bull’s young drivers’ network. However, as soon as the harbour chicane was reached by the midfield, a pile-up of single-seaters, caused by Clément Novalak’s touch on Kush Maini’s car, triggered a Virtual Safety Car, followed immediately by a Safety Car which lasted five laps.
On the restart, at the beginning of lap 6, Hadjar immediately fell victim to an engine problem. His momentum was cut short and Iwasa was able to pass him easily, followed in his wake by India’s Jehan Daruvala (MP Motorsport) and American Jak Crawford (HiTech). The Frenchman then returned to his pit, dejected, with his only remaining hope this weekend being a nice finish in Sunday morning’s Feature Race.
With ten laps to go, another race incident – Amaury Cordeel’s touch in the same place as Lewis Hamilton in F1 two hours earlier – led to another Safety Car exit. When the race restarted, Iwasa didn’t let himself be taken by surprise and he drove the last five laps to victory, seven seconds ahead of Daruvala. With another reward, the leadership in the championship.
Further back in the field, Victor Martins (7th) and Théo Pourchaire (8th), were content to pick up a few points, still precious for the championship, despite their distant position on the inverted starting grid. They had been very fast on Friday in qualifying and will be well placed (1st row for Martins, 2nd row for Pourchaire) at the start of the Feature Race (42 laps or one hour). This will take place on Sunday at 9.40 a.m.