Kush Maini takes maiden podium in F2 and double points-paying finish in Melbourne

The Indian rookie driver completed another strong weekend in terms of performance with his Campos Racing-run Dallara F2 car. Maini finished third on Saturday and fought back to finish ninth during the feature race. Boschung experienced a hard luck weekend

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Campos Racing scored another podium finish in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, whose third round of the current 2023 season took place in Melbourne in the frame of the Australian F1 Grand Prix. Indian Kush Maini stepped onto the podium of the series for the very first time, thanks another faultless, impressive drive coming from the rookie driver. Unfortunately, Swiss Ralph Boschung couldn’t follow his footsteps as Lady Luck wasn’t on his side never throughout the weekend.

In which was an all-new circuit for everybody, both Boschung and Maini had a quick adaptation during the free practice session held on Friday morning. Boschung posted a lap of 1m29.958s, which left him tenth in the timesheets, just ahead of Maini’s best lap of 1m30.035s. But the qualifying session in the afternoon took place in heavy rain conditions. In such new, difficult circumstances, with asphalt slightly improving at the end, Maini clocked a lap time of 1m46.530s to secure the 8th-fastes lap time. Boschung was in tenth place, which was a provisional pole position on the reverse grid, but another driver improved and the Swiss racer dropped to 11th.

Saturday’s sprint race was supposed to be in dry conditions, but when the drivers were making their reconnaissance lap, some light rain made things much more difficult. Several drivers, including Boschung himself, spun out. In fact, Boschung couldn’t even make the start and he was out of the race. On the contrary, Maini had a much more fruitful Saturday. On the medium tire, Maini remained in P3 when the lights went out and kept Arthur Leclerc at bay. When the DRS was enabled in lap 7, Leclerc managed to momentarily overtake Maini for third. But the driver in Campos Racing colors fought back to retake his podium position seconds later. The safety car was deployed in lap 13 when Jack Doohan spun out and stopped on the track. Immediately, some rain came out of the blue to add still further spicy. Despite some drivers pitted for rain tires, Maini and Campos Racing chose to remain on track, which proved to be the right call. After 22 laps, Maini took the checkered flag in third place.

Sunday’s feature race, consisting of 33 laps, proved to be another tough challenge. Maini made the start on the medium tire with Boschung completing his first stint on the softer rubber. The opening laps were rather action-packed ones and both Campos Racing drivers lost several places. The safety car was deployed in lap 8 when Doohan made contact with Jak Crawford and sent him to the barriers. All the drivers on the soft tire, including Boschung, headed into the pit-lane for their mandatory pit stops. Maini remained on track and, with green flags weaving once again, the Indian driver moved up to second provisionally when he moved past Roy Nissany and Enzo Fittipaldi at once. From then onwards, Maini’s main concerns was to nurse his tires before making his pit stop for fresh soft rubber. In lap 25, Nissany hit the wall and Maini finally made his pit stop. It turned into a 3-lap mini race and Maini mastered the timing to avoid a clash involving Victor Martins and Dennis Hauger. In the dying moments, Maini moved through Roman Staněk to cross the finish line in ninth place. Boschung ended up in 16th after a difficult race for him.

After three rounds, Boschung sits fourth in the drivers’ standings on 33 points. Maini is lying in ninth place with 26 points. Campos Racing now occupies the fourth place in the teams’ standings with 59 points.

The fourth round of the FIA Formula 2 Championship is scheduled on 29-30 April in the streets of Azerbaijani capital of Baku.