F2: Ghiotto’s strategy pay dividends in Bahrain Sprint Race

Luca Ghiotto claimed victory in the Formula 2 Sprint Race at Bahrain for UNI-Virtuosi Racing. Image sourced from @tracksidelegend via Twitter.

Luca Ghiotto made his alternate strategy work brilliantly as he fought back from fourteenth to take victory in the F2 Bahrain sprint race, finishing ahead of the DAMS duo of Sergio Sette Camara and feature race winner Nicholas Latifi.

After pitting on lap 13, Ghiotto used his fresh tyres to full effect, finally retaking the lead with three laps remaining, taking his first win since 2017, and UNI-Virtuosi’s first since taking over Russian Time’s entry.

An action packed first lap saw pole sitter Mick Schumacher retain his lead, as he cut across Jack Aitken on the run down to Turn 1 in a move reminiscent of his father.

This allowed Louis Deletraz and Nyck de Vries to get a run on the Brit throughout the first sector, eventually culminating in contact through Turn 7, which dropped all three down the order.

Sette Camara now found himself in second place, and found a way past Schumacher’s PREMA into the first corner on Lap 3, with Ghiotto and Latifi soon following through.

Ghiotto soon took the lead, and the Italian set to work extending his gap, setting the fastest lap as soon as he was in free air, building a 3.2 second gap after Lap 7.

Further down the order, there was drama as Sauber Junior Team’s Juan Manuel Correa misjudged a cutback on Jordan King, causing damage to the American’s front wing, with the MP Motorsport car miraculously emerging unscathed from the collision.

The tenth lap saw the first pitstop, with Sean Gelael stopping on Lap 10 for fresh tyres, as he tried to make his way up the order after a DRS failure on Saturday.

It was Lap 13 before any of the front runners pitted, as Ghiotto and de Vries pitted from first and fourth respectively, with the DAMS team electing to keep their cars out in an attempt to eke out the tyres to the end.

The ART of de Vries was soon setting blistering lap times, with his fastest lap of 1:47.145 over four seconds quicker than those at the front of the field who had decided to stay out.

Just five laps after pitting, Ghiotto found himself on the back of Guanyu Zhou, with his team-mate putting up no resistance as they swapped fifth and sixth positions.

There was a huge midfield battle for 12th, as the cars went four wide through turn 1, with different strategies coming to the fore.

Giuliano Alesi found himself in the middle of this, battling with fellow Ferrari Driver Academy member Callum Ilott, as well as Arden’s Tatiana Calderon.

With three laps to go, the UNI-Virtuosi drivers both found themselves in prime position to move up the order, with Ghiotto making his way past Latifi into the first corner, and Zhou pulling off the same move on Schumacher soon after to take fifth.

Sette Camara had bad tyre wear by this point and couldn’t hold off Ghiotto for, with the Italian comfortably making his way through at Turn 13 to secure a deserved victory, after clutch issues cost him a chance of winning from pole in the feature race.

Ghiotto leaves the first weekend of F2 action with a two point advantage over feature race winner Latifi, with Sette Camara’s two podiums ensuring DAMS have a fourteen point lead in the teams championship.

Zhou managed take fourth in the closing stages, ahead of Louis Deletraz, with Schumacher, de Vries and King the final points finishers.