F2 Jeddah: Feature race suspended after start line shunt

The Formula 2 Championship feature race at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix has been suspended following a frightening start line shunt involving Theo Pourchaire and Enzo Fittipaldi. 

The race lasted a matter of mere seconds as a stalled Pourchaire was collected by the unsighted Enzo Fittipaldi, triggering a huge crash on the start/finish straight. 

Oscar Piastri managed to covert his pole position into a lead before officials red flagged the race to allow medical crews to attend to Fittipaldi and Pourchaire. 

Both drivers were conscious and extricated by medical crews before being transferred by ambulance and helicopter to King Fahad Armed Forces Hospital.

In a statement, the FIA said: "The FIA advises that incident occurred during the FIA Formula 2 Feature Race start today, 05/12/21, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, involving car #10, Théo Pourchaire, and car #14, Enzo Fittipaldi.

"The drivers were immediately attended to by emergency and medical crews. The drivers were conscious and extricated by the attending medical crews. Both have been transferred by ambulance and helicopter to King Fahad Armed Forces Hospital, Jeddah."

There was a further incident at Turn 3 before the red flags flew, but all cars involved were able to make it back to the pits. 

 

The incident arrived after a 40 minute delay to the start of the race initially caused by track repairs between Turns 12-15 after barriers were damaged in the earlier Porsche Sprint Challenge Middle East race.

It resulted in the cars having navigate the circuit in the opposite direction to navigate from the paddock to the pit lane. 

A race rescheduled race time was issued, then two minutes later the session was aborted as confusion reigned, before cars eventually emerged on the grid ready for a race start.

The field returned to the pit lane after the red flag was deployed following the start-line crash. Drivers climbed out of the cars while race control eventually determined the race would be restarted at 1845 local time. 

Update: The race was red-flagged for a second time with less than 10 minutes left on the clock following a collision between Caldwell and Samaia. The race will not be resumed.

The previous two F2 races at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit were halted by opening lap incidents that triggered the Safety Car.

In race one, the field managed to navigate the first two turns unscathed but the clean running only lasted until Turn 4 when debutant Olli Caldwell appeared to make contact with Guilherme Samaia, firing the Brazilian into the inside wall. The out of control Charouz driver then tagged an innocent Marino Sato into a spin, also putting the Trident machine out of the race.

Saturday’s second sprint race was halted when F2 rookie Clement Novalak locked up lost control of his MP Motorsport car which swiped race one winner Marcus Armstrong, sending the New Zealander into a spin at Turn 1. 

While this incident was unfolding Guilherme Samaia had nowhere to go to avoid Ralph Boschung and found the outside wall, with Alessio Deledda also caught up in the clash.

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