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May 19

Gabriel Bortoleto secures first FIA F2 podium at Imola

Invicta Racing driver Gabriel Bortoleto took his maiden FIA Formula 2 podium finish at Imola as both he and Kush Maini battled hard until the chequered flag in the Feature Race.

Sunday’s Feature Race, held over 35 laps, began with Gabriel on pole position and Kush from 17th. Most drivers, including Gabriel, opted to start with the Super Soft tyre, while six drivers including Kush started from the Medium tyre.

Both drivers struggled at the start, with Gabriel losing three places and Kush four spots, and they held position in the opening stages. When the pit window opened at the end of lap six, Isack Hadjar and Joshua Dürksen, who were both in front of Gabriel, pitted but the latter had a slow stop.

A lap later, race leader Oliver Bearman pitted and stalled. Gabriel pitted at the same time and emerged in a net second place. Andrea Kimi Antonelli pitted a lap later and was just behind Gabriel, who now had a three-second gap to Hadjar in front.

Kush meanwhile looked to run long on his set of Medium tyres with the hope of a Safety Car, which was likely around Imola, managing the gap to Victor Martins in front.

Gabriel closed up to Hadjar to a second as the race approached the halfway point. It then opened a bit, and the times remained similar for much of the race until Hadjar came across Rafael Villagomez who was yet to pit.

Hadjar lost a bit of time behind the Van Amersfoort Racing driver, which allowed Gabriel to close up into the DRS window. However, passing was very tricky around the circuit and he had to settle for second place after pressing Hadjar to the finish line after trying to make a move in the final couple of laps.

Kush battled hard also, pitting with a few laps to go and making the most of his Super Soft tyres to pick off a couple of places towards the end of the race. He finished just behind Zak O’Sullivan in 14th as the way the race played out wasn’t in his favour.

The team now shifts focus to the spectacular streets of Monte Carlo, with the round at the principality taking place next weekend (24-26 May).

Gabriel Bortoleto

I am very happy. The pace was mega, so it was a great job by the team. It was a tough race with Hadjar, he is a fast driver so it was not easy to overtake him. There are still some things we need to analyse such as the starts.  We will keep pushing in this direction and we will aim to be in the mix in Monaco next weekend.

Kush Maini

There was not really anything we could do today as it is so hard to overtake around here. Qualifying really defined our weekend. We have a short turnaround to Monaco now, which is good. It is the first weekend where we struggled, but I am sure that in Monaco we will bounce back. Had we been aware that the penalty was being taken away earlier, we could have been able to factor that into when we pitted and maybe finished in the points but either way we now look forward to the next round.

Andy Roche

Gabi lost the race at the start today, which was unfortunate. We were quick enough, and had he got off the line well we could have won. If we had a little bit more in the car, he could have had more of a go at Hadjar at the end. He did a fantastic job of getting where he got to after that start and we are really quite pleased. It was always going to be very difficult for Kush from his starting position, because it is so hard to overtake here, but he will bounce back from this weekend. The win for the team is coming, that’s for sure.