It rained all Friday in Imola and Formula 2 noticed it. In the morning, the entry-level riders completed a free practice session, but heavy rain put an end to that. In the end, it was decided to move practice to the time slot originally reserved for qualifying. The determination of the starting positions for the main race on Sunday was then postponed until after Formula 1 qualifying, so the session could not start until around 7 p.m. This happened again on a wet strip of asphalt.
Free practice had to be interrupted several times due to various drivers slipping and it wasn’t long before the red flag was waved in Formula 2 qualifying. Campos driver Olli Caldwell spun in Tamburello after eight minutes and slid into the gravel trap from which he was unable to free himself. As a result, the 30-minute session had to be abandoned. Red Bull junior Jüri Vips was already in first place by then thanks to a 1.41.599, faster than Van Amersfoort Racing’s Jake Hughes, Ralph Boschung, championship leader Felipe Drugovich and Liam Lawson.
After the code red, the field was sent out for the last 22 minutes of qualifying, but this did not lead to immediate improvements at first. That only happened in the last ten minutes when most of the drivers had gotten a new set of rain tires and the track started to dry out significantly. One after the other, Theo Pourchaire, Jehan Daruvala and Ralph Boschung lost to Vips’ time, who countered harshly by posting 1.40.221 on the clock. In further qualifying, some drivers came close to this time, but there were no improvements in the best time.
Vips thus secured pole position for Sunday’s feature race, followed by Ayumu Iwasa, another product of Red Bull practice, in a tenth and a half. Jack Doohan kept his cool en route to third place on Sunday, ahead of Boschung, Formula 3 Champion Dennis Hauger, Roy Nissany and Pourchaire in seventh. Daruvala, Marcus Armstrong and Logan Sargeant complete the top ten and will start the sprint race in reverse order on Saturday.
After a good start to the season in Bahrain and Jeddah, Richard Verschoor found it harder to show up from the front at Imola. In qualifying he fell further and further back to finish no more than nineteenth on the grid for both races. Drugovich was also a bit disappointing on the part of MP Motorsport: The leader in the fight for the title will start both races from twelfth place.
The Formula 2 sprint race in Imola is scheduled for Saturday. The starting shot is at 5:55 p.m.