Campos Racing endures tough weekend at Paul Ricard

Caldwell made it to the finish in both races putting in valuable recovery drives from the back of the grid. Merhi, driving the MoonMobile Dallara, was forced to early retirements both days

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Campos Racing experienced a difficult French Grand Prix in Le Castellet, which hosted the ninth round of the 2022 FIA Formula 2 Championship season. Following a brilliant performance in Spielberg a week earlier, Campos Racing arrived in France in high spirits but unfortunately hard luck hit the Spanish-based racing team and neither Olli Caldwell nor Roberto Merhi could deliver their full potential. 

The weekend kicked off in proper style on Friday with Caldwell and Merhi, at the wheel of injured Ralph Boschung’s MoonMobile Dallara, running in competitive pace during the single free practice session held in the morning. Under hot temperatures, Caldwell clocked a time of 1m47.410s and took 12th fastest time in the screens and Spaniard Merhi completed a best lap of 1m47.644s but both drivers focused in both races running on the hard compound. Later in qualifying, Merhi posted a lap time of 1m45.660s in the first part of the season with Caldwell slightly slower with a personal best of 1m46.280. A red flag when Dennis Hauger stopped on track interrupted the session when seven minutes to go but, in a hurry, the drivers still managed to get a chance for another flying lap in the closing moments of the session. Finally, Merhi lowered to 1m45.101s on his final lap and set to start from 15th on the grid. Briton Caldwell put a lap together of 1m45.743s and would line up on row 11. 

Saturday’s Sprint race, consisting of 21 laps, saw Merhi and Caldwell moving trough the field in lap 1. Unfortunately, Caldwell was forced to pit in lap 2 as a result of a contact and lost ground. Meanwhile, Merhi was running solidly in his MoonMobile Dallara until Enzo Fittipaldi – who later handed a 5-place grid penalty- attempted to squeeze up the inside of the Spaniard and both cars made contact in lap 9. Despite Merhi managed to continue but, ultimately, he was forced to retire as a result of damage nine laps later. Caldwell took the checkered flag in 18th place. 

The 30-lap Feature race took place on Sunday morning with both drivers defending the Campos Racing colors expecting a strong run thanks to competitive race trim. Merhi and Caldwell made the opening stint on the soft red-walled tire compound, which maximized their chances to overtake rivals in the opening laps. When the lights went out, Merhi and Caldwell avoided any contact in an incident-marred first lap. In fact, the safety car was deployed to clear the track. After five laps, the safety car come in and immediately Caldwell moved past Calan Williams for 14th. Merhi, running in 12th, made his pit stop in lap 10 but he couldn’t rejoin due to a technical issue. Caldwell pitted two laps later and, until the end of the race, the Briton lapped in competitive laps times. Caldwell overtook several cars and crossed the finish line in 13th place. 

With no time to rest, FIA F2’s next round and last one before summer break will take place at the Hungaroring next weekend.