Doohan wins finale as battling Vesti can’t keep Pourchaire from the title

Formula 2

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Theo Pourchaire won the 2023 Formula 2 championship in the final race of the season despite a spirited fight from Frederik Vesti.

The ART driver could not hold off his rival after a thrilling wheel-to-wheel battle between the pair but fifth place was enough to confirm Pourchaire as champion. Jack Doohan won the final feature race from pole position with Victor Martins second, as Vesti snatched the final podium position on the last lap in dramatic fashion.

Doohan held the lead at the start with Kush Maini settling into second place and Victor Martins third. Vesti sat in eighth at the end of the first lap on medium compound tyres, fourth places ahead of Pourchaire who started on softs. But the championship leader passed Juan Manuel Correa on the second lap to move up to 11th place.

By the end of lap five Doohan was almost two seconds ahead of Maini. Further back, Vesti was informed it was “very important” for him to overtake Dennis Hauger for seventh on lap six, but he could not get close enough to challenge the MP driver.

Pourchaire was one of the first drivers to pit at the end of lap six, taking a set of mediums. Vesti remained out on his old rubber much longer as Pourchaire used his warm new tyres to pass Oliver Bearman and Hauger on consecutive laps.

Race leader Doohan pitted at the end of lap nine, handing the lead to Maini. That lasted only a lap before the Campos driver made his stop, cycling Martins into the lead. Now second, Vesti was directed to treat the next 10 laps “like one big qualifying lap”.

Martins continued to lead a train of drivers who started on medium tyres. Bearman suffered an apparent engine problem and pulled into the pit lane but came to a stop just before the entrance. Race control closed the pit entry for a handful of laps, which threatened to cause problems for those running long like Vesti, but the marshals were able to clear his team mate’s car before he made his stop for soft tyres at the end of lap 22.

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Vesti emerged in ninth place, directly behind his championship rival. His championship chances looked remote: He needed at least third place plus fastest lap with Pourchaire not scoring. Nonetheless, with fresher tyres than his rivals Vesti went on the attack over the final 11 laps.

Martins pitted the following lap, with Arthur Leclerc the final driver to pit, allowing Doohan back into the lead. Martins gained second from his long first stint, with Ayumu Iwasa third.

Vesti, Pourchaire and Maini engaged in a thrilling three-way battle over the 25th lap before the championship rivals dropped the Campos driver. The two rivals continued to fight wheel-to-wheel over the next few laps until Vesti prevailed. The stewards noted Pourchaire for leaving the track and potentially gaining an advantage during the battle with Maini, a development which could have had serious implications for the title fight, but decided no investigation was needed.

With four laps remaining, Vesti gained fourth from Iwasa. However the Virtual Safety Car was briefly deployed, as Joshua Mason pulled off track with a problem, which delayed Vesti’s progress.

Entering the final lap, Vesti had caught Maloney and was swarming all over the Carlin for third. As they rounded the left-hander of turn nine, Maloney spun and the pair made contact, Vesti briefly bouncing into the air. Vesti picked up the position as Maloney fell out of the race, the stewards ruling the clash as a racing incident.

While all this was going on, Doohan remained in control and completed the final sector to take the chequered flag and win his third race of the season. Martins finished second almost four seconds behind, while Vesti’s podium finish was not enough for him to overcome Pourchaire’s points advantage, leaving the ART driver as Formula 2 champion.

Iwasa finished ahead of Pourchaire on the road in fourth, with Arthur Leclerc in sixth and Hauger seventh. Isack Hadjar took eighth place ahead of Maini, with Jack Crawford claiming the final point in tenth.

ART were confirmed as teams champions in the final race with the current generation Formula 2 car introduced in 2018.

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Formula 2 Abu Dhabi race two results

114Jack DoohanVirtuosi
26Victor MartinsART
37Frederik VestiPrema
411Ayumu IwasaDAMS
55Theo PourchaireART
612Arthur LeclercDAMS
71Dennis HaugerMP
810Isack HadjarHitech
924Kush MainiCampos
109Jak CrawfordHitech
1116Roy NissanyPHM Racing by Charouz
1220Roman StaněkTrident
1323Juan Manuel CorreaVan Amersfoort
144Enzo FittipaldiRodin Carlin
1525Ralph BoschungCampos
1615Amaury CordeelVirtuosi
DNF3Zane MaloneyRodin Carlin
1821Paul AronTrident
DNF17Josh MasonPHM Racing by Charouz
DNF22Richard VerschoorVan Amersfoort
DNF8Ollie BearmanPrema
DNF2Franco ColapintoMP

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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6 comments on “Doohan wins finale as battling Vesti can’t keep Pourchaire from the title”

  1. Really good race.
    Pity that F1 is extremely unlikely to even compare to that quality and quantity of racing.

    For those who complain about this track – watch this F2 race. The vast majority of the problems with F1 tracks are the F1 cars which ‘compete’ on them, and not the tracks themselves.
    Even Monaco had a great race a couple of years ago – with FE cars…

  2. I hope that no F1 team will ever sign Theo. Terrible F2 champions should drive in some other series.

    1. I don’t see how you can think Pourchaire is a “terrible” champion. He’s F3 vice-champion, the youngest winner in F2 history, finished 5th in his first season, was 2nd last season, and won the title by consistently racking up points across the season. Sure, he’s probably not a generational talent like Hamilton or Verstappen, but I think any team who in need of someone who is incredibly consistent should perhaps take note of him…

      1. And to note, a driver that took the championship back for ART despite Prema dominance and have bested some good talented drivers in Vesti (2nd this year) and Lundgaard who has 1 win and two poles in a car outside of the big four teams.

  3. I am so very happy that Pourchaire made it today. I haven’t had a favourite driver since Schumi, so this driver championship win is special for me.

    I hope he makes it into F1 within the next year or two. I think it will be difficult, though, with so many talents also waiting for an opportunity: Drugovich, Bearman, Vesti, Iwasa, Martins, Doohan, Maloney, Hauger, Hadjar, Maini. There are so many great talents just outside F1 at the moment and for sure I am naming only some of the them. It’s unfathomable, really, to think that 2024 is going to be the 2nd season that Drugovich doesn’t get a seat in F1. We need developing talent like that in F1. Another 3 F1 teams would help!

    1. I don’t think more teams would necessarily lead to substantially more turnover, though. Race teams, in general as well as F1 specifically, simply aren’t as interested in turning over drivers as often as they were in the past.
      Everything is data-driven now rather than feel-driven – and the most effective way to get consistent data is to keep the consistency from the driver’s side too.
      Then there’s the financial aspect of it – drivers’ sponsors don’t account for much of the total team income and expenditure anymore. Seeking the next sponsored driver has never been less necessary for even the smallest teams. Minardi, for example, was largely a pay driver team for most of their time in F1 – that’s how they lasted as long as they did. WIth F1’s enormous commercial payments now, coupled with the budget cap, teams simply don’t need that money.
      At the same time, drivers such as Hamilton, Alonso and Verstappen bring in huge sums of team sponsorship – teams don’t want to lose that.

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