Isack Hadjar Triumphs on Sunday in Imola, Campos Racing Leads the Teams' Standings

The French driver maximized his pit stop strategy to take the lead and cross the finish line as the winner. With this victory, Hadjar is now third in the drivers' standings while Campos Racing takes the lead in the teams' standings

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This is the second win of the 2024 FIA Formula 2 season for Isack Hadjar, and at a legendary circuit like the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari. The Campos Racing driver, in his Dallara F2 in Red Bull colours, overcame a challenging Saturday to emerge triumphant on Sunday. Hadjar and Campos Racing executed a superb race management strategy, which was key to the final result. On the downside, Pepe Martí, despite being equally fast, was once again unlucky when everything pointed to a points-finish.

Track action in Imola began on Friday with the single free practice session, where Hadjar proved to be one of the most in-form drivers in the championship. The Frenchman set a time of 1m29.084s, placing him fourth in the standings, just two-tenths off the fastest lap, while Martí clocked in at 1m29.646s. In the qualifying session early in the afternoon, the Campos Racing drivers had to contend with traffic problems on such a narrow track, as well as capricious wind gusts that significantly affected lap times. The gaps at the end of the session were minimal, with Hadjar securing the third-fastest time with a lap of 1m27.272s, a good starting point for the weekend's two races. Martí, on the other hand, posted a time of 1m27.802s, placing him on the seventh row of the grid, especially after being unable to fully exploit his first set of soft tyres.

Saturday's sprint race, scheduled for 25 laps, had an unfortunate outcome for Campos Racing drivers. Hadjar made a perfect start from seventh on the reversed grid, gaining a position and challenging another car ahead. However, in the fast approach to Tamburello, a collision triggered a chain reaction that took out five drivers, including Hadjar himself. Martí's race was no easier. A problem during the warm-up lap caused him to lose a position, resulting in a 10-second stop-and-go penalty that entirely compromised his race, leaving him 16th at the finish line.

Sunday brought a new opportunity with the feature race, set for 35 laps. Hadjar chose to start on the softer tyre compound, while Martí opted for the harder compound, two contrasting strategies. When the lights went out, Hadjar gained a position by overtaking pole-sitter Gabriel Bortoleto and closely followed Oliver Bearman. Hadjar nursed his tires until lap 6, when, while tailing Bearman, he decided to execute an "undercut" by pitting earlier than the Brit. This strategy paid off, as by the time all the drivers on the soft tires had completed their pit stops, he was the virtual leader ahead of Bortoleto. At the front, Martí was temporarily second behind Amaury Cordeel, focusing on maximizing his first stint. These positions held until, with five laps to go, Cordeel pitted with Martí following closely. As Cordeel left his pit box, he lost a rear wheel that hit one of the Campos Racing mechanics and their pneumatic gun, preventing a good pit stop and ending Martí's chances of fighting for points, forcing him to retire from the race. At the front, Hadjar had regained the lead but now had Bortoleto right behind him with DRS. Despite this, in a nail-biting final three laps, Hadjar showed nerves of steel and utilized all his experience to cross the finish line as the winner, just half a second ahead of Bortoleto.

After Imola, the drivers' standings have tightened, with Hadjar moving up to third place with 59 points, being, along with leader Zane Maloney, the only driver to have won twice so far. Martí, meanwhile, is now eleventh with 26 points. As for the teams' standings, Campos Racing now holds the top spot with 85 points.

Without time to rest, Campos Racing will head to Monaco this week to compete in another two FIA Formula 2 races on the streets of the Principality, one of the most anticipated but also challenging circuits on the calendar.