Isack Hadjar delivers masterclass to win in Australia

The French driver delivered a flawless and intelligent performance that earned him victory in Sunday's race after a penalty prevented him from winning on Saturday, where he also crossed the finish line first. Martí had no luck in the races despite qualifying among the top eight in the qualifying session

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Campos Racing soared to the top of the podium at the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne, the setting for the third round of the 2024 FIA Formula 2 season. Isack Hadjar secured his first win of the current campaign at the wheel of his Campos Racing-managed Dallara F2 wearing Red Bull colors. Hadjar put together a superb race to redeem himself after a ten-second penalty cost him victory on Saturday, where he also led the pack across the finish line. As for his teammate, Spanish driver Pepe Martí, he was also poised to match Hadjar's performance. Unfortunately, for the young Barcelona-born driver, race circumstances almost always played against him, reflecting in the results.

On Friday, during the free practice session, Hadjar already demonstrated his excellent harmony with the Australian circuit, setting a time of 1m29.655s, placing him second in the standings, just a thousandth of a second behind Dennis Hauger's best time. Martí, on the other hand, had a slight excursion off track which prevented him from extracting the full potential of his car; nevertheless, the sensations were positive heading into qualifying. In qualifying, Hadjar set a time of 1m29.470s, provisionally placing him third on the timesheets midway through the session. As usual, yellow and red flags ruined a good number of quick laps. On his final flying lap, Martí completed his best time of 1m29.429s, elevating him to seventh on the timesheets, just ahead of Hadjar, who had to abort his final attempt due to yellow flags.

In the first race of the weekend, the Saturday sprint race scheduled for 23 laps, both Campos Racing drivers shared the second row of the grid. When the lights went out, both Hadjar and Martí made meteoric starts. Hadjar drew alongside Roman Stanek, but the Czech driver moved slightly to his right, causing Hadjar to do the same to avoid contact. As a result, Hadjar lightly collided with Martí's car, triggering a chain reaction that also involved Gabriel Bortoleto. Consequently, both Martí and Bortoleto crashed into the wall, retiring from the race. That maneuver was going to define the course of the race. With the safety car deployed, the race saw green flags again on lap 7, with Hadjar immediately demonstrating much more pace than his pursuers. In just four laps, he had built a lead of over three seconds over Stanek when the safety car was deployed again and remained on track until lap 15. With an unreachable pace of 1m31s, which also earned him the fastest lap, he crossed the finish line first with over six seconds ahead of Stanek. However, a ten-second penalty imposed by the stewards post-race for the incident at the start dropped him to sixth place.

With the utmost motivation to replicate the previous day's victory, Campos Racing tackled the Sunday feature race, scheduled for 33 laps, with the certainty that there were chances to fight for the win. When the lights went out, Martí gained two positions to sit fifth while Hadjar maintained eighth place. However, Martí went slightly wide at Turn 10 and lost two positions on the fourth lap. The Campos Racing drivers, who had started on the super-soft tyre compound, had to pit early. Thus, Martí entered the pits on lap 9, but due to the congestion in the pit lane, he lost some positions in the process. Hadjar was due to pit on the following lap, but as the Frenchman was entering the pit lane, Hauger collided with the barriers, prompting a Virtual Safety Car first and then the safety car. It proved to be the perfect timing to make the pit stop, and Hadjar rejoined the track in seventh, but virtually led after the cars ahead had yet to pit. On the restart, Hadjar overtook Taylor Barnard, Enzo Fittipaldi, and Stanek to build a gap to his pursuers. When the drivers ahead finally made their pit stops, Hadjar inherited the lead. After 33 laps, Hadjar crossed the finish line as the winner with over four seconds ahead of Paul Aron. Martí climbed back to eighth place, although contact with Oliver Bearman resulted in a ten-second penalty, dropping him to 13th in the final classification.

After three of the fourteen meetings, Hadjar now sits fourth in the drivers' standings with 34 points. Martí, on the other hand, is seventh in the same classification with a total of 26 points. Meanwhile, Campos Racing climbs in the teams' standings and now sits in second place with 60 points to their name.

The championship now takes a long break of over a month before returning to Europe, with the fourth meeting of the year scheduled at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola on the 18th and 19th of May.