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    Formula 2 –Bearman and Leclerc make progress in Jeddah, even if the points don’t show it

    Jeddah 19 marzo 2023

    After starting the Sprint Race from pole, Oliver was hit which cost him a podium finish. Arthur was unlucky in qualifying but showed well in the Feature Race.

    Good performance but bad luck sums up the second round of the season as far as Formula 2 rookies Arthur Leclerc and Oliver Bearman were concerned. There were plenty of signs that the pair are making progress, but some unfortunate incidents meant the points haul did not reflect that. Bearman qualified brilliantly on the front row, but then was hit by Theo Pourchaire in the Sprint Race when the podium was in sight. Leclerc had to fight back from a small but crucial mistake in qualifying, but he made up for it in the Feature Race, leading up until the final pit stop when a problem in the box cost him three places.  

    Sprint Race. As always this race features a reverse grid, so that Bearman and Leclerc started from eighth and twelfth places.  A strong opening lap saw Oliver come round in sixth place, while Arthur kept his 12th place. After a Safety Car period, good pace allowed Bearman to move up to fifth and catch the leaders, but on lap 7, at turn 1, he was hit by Pourchaire and his race ended there. The Frenchman admitted his mistake and was penalised for it. “It was a shame, in these situations there’s nothing you can do, you’re just a victim of circumstance,” commented Oliver. After a second Safety Car period, the race resumed with Leclerc taking the chequered flag in eleventh place.

    Feature Race. The second Jeddah race was very exciting for the drivers and for team strategists. Starting from second, Bearman took the lead at the first corner. Oliver had started on the softer compound tyre and made his pit stop to switch to the Mediums on lap 7. Back on track, the Englishman kept his position but a spin at turn 22 meant his tyres were degrading steadily. Oliver gritted his teeth, but his pace dropped off lap after lap and he dropped down the order, finishing tenth, to secure his first point in Formula 2.  

    Leclerc ran the opposite strategy, starting on the Medium tyre from 12th place. When those on the Softs pitted, Arthur found himself in the lead, driving a consistent and very rapid stint. He pitted with five laps remaining, but unfortunately a problem during the wheel change cost him six seconds and three places. Back on track, Arthur moved up from ninth to eighth at the chequered flag, also setting the fastest lap of the race.