The Ferrari Driver Academy’s Arthur Leclerc came back from an unfortunate qualifying, staging a fantastic fight through the field to finish fourth and take the lead in the championship.
After a Friday to forget when he qualified 21st after a collision, Arthur Leclerc produced an unforgettable Sunday, fighting his way up the order in the Feature Race, making up no less than 17 places to finish in fourth spot. The result sees the Monegasque driver take the series lead. Oliver Bearman showed clear signs of progress in Imola, leading the Feature Race for a while and taking the chequered flag in fourth place, although a penalty for causing a collision dropped him down the final results sheets.
Qualifying. Leclerc’s weekend did not start well, as he qualified way down in 21st place. “We had great pace, but unfortunately, I was hit by another car at the penultimate corner and that was it over,” he explained. As for Bearman, he was pleased to have qualified fifth. “The track was evolving all the time and I made the most of the last lap, improving my lap time by over two seconds,” said Oliver.
Sprint Race. The first race of the Imola weekend proved to be tricky for both FDA drivers. From 21st on the grid, Leclerc managed to get close to the top ten, but a mistake cost him more time and he had to settle for 14th place at the flag. “I’d hoped to pick up some points and it seemed likely for a while,” added Arthur. “Then I ended up in the gravel when I was pushing and from then on it was impossible to do better.” Bearman had a tough race after being pushed off the track at turn 2 at the start of the second lap. He began moving back up through the field but a further collision left him outside the points in 13th place.
Feature Race. The race started in tricky conditions as light rain began to fall before the start. Two thirds of the field, including the two FDA drivers, opted for slick tyres which proved to be the right choice after a few very tricky opening laps. The Safety Car made no fewer than three appearances and Oliver and Arthur, having started from fifth and 21st places once again, gradually moved up the order. At the second restart, Bearman got past Roman Stanek to take the lead, staying there until two laps from the end when he could not fend off a final charge from his rival, partly because of tyre degradation. On the last lap, Oliver defended at Rivazza but a collision with Gregory Saucy robbed him of a podium finish as he took the flag in fourth spot. Two hours after the finish, Oliver was penalised and dropped to the bottom of the results sheet.
Fight back. Leclerc finished behind Bearman having staged an incredible comeback, making up 17 places. Arthur managed his race perfectly in difficult conditions, rewarded with the 12 points for fourth place, enough for him to leave Imola leading the championship on 36 points.