Ayumu Iwasa grabbed his first-ever win in Formula 2 in the French Grand Prix feature race following a dominant performance in Le Castellet.
The Japanese Red Bull academy driver had come agonisingly close to victory in the sprint races in Barcelona and Silverstone, but his best finish in feature races before Sunday morning had been P5 in Imola.
He qualified second behind Logan Sargeant on Friday, before the top 12 positions were reversed for Saturday’s sprint as Liam Lawson took victory.
There had been plenty of battling behind the New Zealander, including a rash move from his compatriot Marcus Armstrong on Jehan Daruvala, forcing the Red Bull junior off at Turn Eight.
Armstrong fell down the order after that, but was hit first by Theo Pourchaire at Turn 11, and then at Turn 15 by Juri Vips, as both of those drivers were penalised.
Pourchaire had initially finished second, but his penalty forced him down to eighth, and Armstrong himself was given a penalty for the contact with Daruvala, forcing him down to P14.
It promoted championship leader Felipe Drugovich onto the podium behind Daruvala, with Jack Doohan taking fourth behind them.
Sunday’s race saw Iwasa take the lead from Sargeant off the Safety Car restart after contact that had sent Armstrong out of the race, and there was no stopping him from there.
Sargeant fell back from Iwasa after the 20-year-old passed him, and his car was eventually retired due to an engine problem, denying him the chance to grab his third straight feature race win.
Iwasa pulled a comfortable margin over Pourchaire, and Vesti held off the charge of Drugovich, who started ninth, to claim the final podium spot after the Brazilian had passed Jack Doohan for fourth – the 19-year-old struggling on dead tyres towards the end.
There was also late heartbreak for Richard Verschoor as the Dutchman retired with a reliability failure of his own while running in the points heading onto the final lap.
Daruvala, who had claimed a rostrum appearance in the sprint, climbed from 10th to seventh in the feature race.
Pourchaire celebrated with Iwasa’s DAMS mechanics after the race as the French team took victory in front of their home crowd, while the young Frenchman grabbed his sixth podium of the season.
Pourchaire’s second place moves him above Sargeant and into second in the Drivers’ Standings, but Drugovich continues to lead by 39 points going into round 10 next weekend in Budapest.