Pepe Martí impresses in his FIA F2 debut with a double podium. Hadjar finishes fourth

The Spaniard of Campos Racing caused a sensation in his debut in the category, finishing second and third in the first two races of the season. Hadjar was fourth on Friday and could have fought for the podium on Saturday if it weren't for a collision when starting from the front row

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Campos Racing and its drivers had an outstanding start to the 2024 FIA Formula 2 season at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir. The Barcelona-born Pepe Martí was undoubtedly the name of the weekend, as he brought his Dallara single-seater to third place in the first race and improved even further on Saturday to climb to second place. Without a doubt, the best newcomer of the weekend thanks to a display of talent and intelligence. Frenchman Isack Hadjar, in his first race with the team, also showed enormous potential which earned him fourth place in the sprint race. However, an incident at the start of the feature race left him stranded without any chance of repeating or even improving.

On Thursday, during free practice, Hadjar was the fastest with a lap of 1m45.099s that no one could beat. Martí, on the other hand, was eighth with a best lap of 1m45.849s. Subsequently, in qualifying, strong winds complicated the performances of the drivers considerably. Using an alternative strategy, both Hadjar and Martí topped the timesheets on their first attempt of qualifying laps. By the end of the session, the times had further improved, with Hadjar setting a lap of 1m41.938s, just 23 thousandths of a second behind Gabriel Bortoleto's pole position. Martí couldn't improve enough on his second attempt and with his best time of 1m42.333s, he would start eleventh on the grid.

In the sprint race on Friday, both Hadjar and Martí stood out for their excellent tire wear management. After two laps, Hadjar, who had started ninth on the reversed grid, was already sixth while Martí was eighth. The two Campos Racing drivers, wearing the Red Bull colors on their cars, continued fighting back and after thirteen laps, they were running in fourth and sixth. Hadjar first and Martí later gained another position by overtaking Victor Martins to place third and fourth. In the final stages, Martí had slightly more pace than Hadjar and passed the Frenchman shortly before the end to secure his first podium in his debut.

On Saturday, in the feature race with a mandatory pit stop, Hadjar was determined to snatch the lead from Bortoleto. However, an incident at the first corner dashed his hopes, and Hadjar had to retire. Martí now had all the responsibility to achieve a good result. The Spaniard took advantage of the soft tire to move up to fifth place. When the safety car, which had come out after Hadjar's collision, headed into the pit lane, Martí pushed hard and first overtook Bortoleto and then Dennis Hauger to move up to third. On lap 7, he passed Zak O'Sullivan and was already second behind leader Zane Maloney. Stretching the life of his tire to the maximum, Martí was the only one capable of challenging Maloney, with the third-placed driver now over ten seconds behind the Spaniard. Shortly after, the safety car came out again, and both Martí and Maloney took advantage to make their pit stop and switch to the harder tire compound. Although the safety car ruined all his advantage, Martí once again showcased his talent to snatch second place from O'Sullivan on the restart, who had been one of the beneficiaries of the safety car. After 32 laps, Martí confirmed second place at the finish line.

After the first two races, Martí sits second in the overall drivers' standings with 24 points. Hadjar is tenth with five points to his name. Campos Racing, on the other hand, ranks second in the teams’ standings with 29 points.

With no time to rest, the next two races will be in Jeddah next weekend.