Hauger clings on to Albert Park F2 win
By Mat Coch
Saturday 1st April, 2023 - 3:24pm
Dennis Hauger has claimed the Formula 2 Sprint race win at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in Albert Park.
The Norwegian negotiated tricky conditions that saw some opt for a mid-race gamble for wet tyres to lead Jak Crawford and Kush Maini to the flag.
Hauger held the lead into the opening turn from Crawford as the race began.
The pair went side by side around Lakeside Drive but was unable to get it done into the Turn 9/10 chicane.
Behind the field spread out three wide on approach to Turn 11 as Maini found himself third.
Half a lap later, a lock up for Ayumu Iwasa into Turn 1 was evidence of a puncture picked up in the Turn 11 scuffle a lap earlier, forcing him into the pits.
Jack Doohan climbed from 15th at the start to sit 12th after four laps, tucked up behind Theo Pourchaire and Jehan Daruvala.
Officials opted to delay the introduction of DRS, which became available only as the field was on Lap 7.
It saw Maini forced to defend from Arthur Leclerc, a train of cars queuing up ready to challenge for the final podium place.
That battle pack ran from Maini in third to Frederik Vesti in ninth, with Daruvala dropping off the back as he headed a second pack that ran back to Clement Novalak in 17th.
Hauger soon began to inch clear of DRS range out front, with Maini two seconds back from Crawford in third.
With 10 laps remaining, predictions of rain proved correct as the skies opened.
Initially, it was only light a sprinkle though track grip dropped, highlighted by Zane Maloney sliding through Turn 9 on Lap 13.
That triggered a ferocious battle throughout the remainder of the lap that included Victor Martins, Ollie Bearman, Isack Hadjar, and Frederik Vesti.
The Safety Car emerged soon after as Doohan found himself pitched into a spin by Juan Manuel Correa at Turn 3, for which the latter would be slapped with a 10s penalty.
That interruption and deteriorating weather prompted a roll of the dice for Pourchaire, Roman Stanek, Amaury Cordeel, and Correa.
Stanek fired it off the road at Turn 1 out of the pits, conditions having worsened sharply since the Safety Car was deployed.
Correa also spun, doing so as he accelerated on new soft tyres out of Turn 3 behind the Safety Car.
On Lap 17, a host of others took to the lane, including Martins who pitted from a points-paying position.
The Safety Car remained on track when Brad Benavides skated off at the penultimate corner.
Pourchaire was the leading runner on the wet tyres in 12th place.
The race finally resumed with two laps remaining, Hauger heading Crawford and Maini as he had done throughout.
On the wet tyres, Pourchaire slid off the road at Turn 12, dropping from 12th to 18th and last on track.
The race otherwise concluded without major incident, Hauger winning from Crawford and Maini.
Leclerc was fifth from Malong, Hadjar, Bearman, and Vesti rounding out the points-paying positions.
The Formula 2 Feature race follows at 11:35 AEST tomorrow.
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