Iwasa Fends Off Drugovich Challenge to Claim Final 2022 Feature Race Victory in Abu Dhabi

Ayuma Iwasa held off the late challenge of 2022 champion Felipe Drugovich to take the final Feature race victory of the FIA Formula 2 championship season on Sunday at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Starting from pole position, Iwasa held onto the lead at the start despite a first corner attack from DAMS team-mate Roy Nissany, and from there, the Japanese Red Bull Junior driver was seemingly in control.

A virtual safety car was required before the end of lap one after Campos Racing’s Ralph Boschung was spun around by Van Amersfoort Racing’s Juan Manuel Correa at turn nine.  Boschung’s car was stranded on the outside of the track, but it did not take long for the marshals to remove it.

Théo Pourchaire, who had dropped from third to fight on the opening lap after running wide at the exit of turn one, capitalised on the restart by jumping back into fourth ahead of Prema Racing’s Dennis Hauger, the ART Grand Prix driver getting a faster restart than his rival.

Drugovich, racing for the final time for MP Motorsport in Abu Dhabi, passed Nissany to run second on lap seven at tun nine, while Hauger and Carlin’s Liam Lawson were the first ones to make their mandatory pit stops a few moments later.

Iwasa pitted from the lead on lap eight, as did Pourchaire, while Drugovich, Nissany, Logan Sargeant and Frederik Vesti all pitted on lap nine.  Iwasa held onto the net lead ahead of Drugovich, while Lawson now run a net third after jumping Hauger in the pits.

Jack Doohan now held the actual lead of the race, the Virtuosi Racing driver running the alternate Medium-Soft strategy, with Marcus Armstrong running second for Hitech Grand Prix.

Pourchaire battled hard to regain his position once more against Hauger after dropping behind the Norwegian driver in the pits, and he took advantage of a mistake at turn nine to repass the Prema driver.

Doohan made his mandatory pit stop on lap twenty-five and was looking to make gains in the closing laps with a significant tyre advantage, but it was not to be for the Australian who, after exiting the pit lane, lost his left-front tyre from the car. 

Several drivers were forced to take avoiding action around Doohan’s tyre, but he was able to pull his car safely to a stop and retire, while another virtual safety car was needed as marshals retrieved his rogue tyre.

Six laps from the chequered flag, Sargeant finally had enough of looking at the back of Nissany’s DAMS car to move up to sixth, which quickly became fifth when a technical issue took Pourchaire out of the race. 

Drugovich closed the gap in the final moments to Iwasa, seemingly using up a few of his joker track limit warnings to do so, but despite getting alongside the Japanese racer, he was unable to make a pass, and he ultimately was forced to settle for second as the DAMS driver took win number two of his rookie season.

Lawson finished third, playing a watching brief in the final moments as the leading duo battled, while Hauger was more than thirteen seconds back in fourth ahead of Sargeant.  By the fact of finishing inside the top four in the championship, Sargeant earned the points needed to win a Superlicence to race in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship with Williams Racing in 2023.

Sixth at the chequered flag and ending his most competitive weekend of the season was Van Amersfoort Racing’s Amaury Cordeel, the Belgian ending ahead of Trident’s Richard Verschoor, with Hitech Grand Prix duo Jüri Vips and Armstrong took eighth and ninth respectively, the latter after a five-second time penalty for track limit offences.

After starting on the front row, Nissany could only finish the race down in tenth to score the final point on offer, the Israeli driver finishing just ahead of ART Grand Prix’s Vesti.

In his debut feature race with Trident, Zane Maloney ended sixteenth, while Correa ended his first feature race in three years down in seventeenth and with a five-second penalty for his first lap clash with Boschung.

Drugovich’s second place and the failure of either Pourchaire or Vesti to score points meant that MP Motorsport secured the Teams’ Championship, the first time the Dutch outfit has achieved this in Formula 2.  ART Grand Prix also slipped behind Carlin thanks to their double no-score.

Yas Marina Circuit Feature Race Result

1 17 Ayuma Iwasa JPN DAMS 57:02.908
2 11 Felipe Drugovich BRZ MP Motorsport +0.830
3 5 Liam Lawson NZL Carlin Racing +1.348
4 1 Dennis Hauger NOR Prema Racing +13.440
5 6 Logan Sargeant USA Carlin Racing +14.064
6 25 Amaury Cordeel BEL Van Amersfoort Racing +15.719
7 20 Richard Verschoor NED Trident +18.162
8 8 Jüri Vips EST Hitech Grand Prix +20.279
9 7 Marcus Armstrong NZL Hitech Grand Prix +20.684
10 16 Roy Nissany ISA DAMS +22.181
11 9 Frederik Vesti DEN ART Grand Prix +22.732
12 12 Clément Novalak FRA MP Motorsport +23.489
13 2 Jehan Daruvala IND Prema Racing +24.298
14 22 Enzo Fittipaldi BRZ Charouz Racing System +27.616
15 4 Marino Sato JPN Virtuosi Racing +28.246
16 21 Zane Maloney BAR Trident +31.754
17 24 Juan Manuel Correa USA Van Amersfoort Racing +37.440
18 23 Tatiana Calderón COL Charouz Racing System +45.116
19/RET 10 Théo Pourchaire FRA ART Grand Prix +2 Laps
20/RET 14 Olii Caldwell GBR Campos Racing +4 Laps
RET 3 Jack Doohan AUS Virtuosi Racing Retired
RET 15 Ralph Boschung CHE Campos Racing Retired