Categories
F2 Open Wheel

Front Runners DQ’d, Penalized Following Belgium

The Formula 2 drivers’ championship battle is now headed in a new direction, in due part to post-race developments at Spa-Francorchamps.

Title contenders Charles Leclerc and Oliver Rowland were disqualified following the Belgian feature.

Their Dallara GP2-11 cars could not pass scrutineering after the competition because the planks at the bottom were badly worn and not enough of the wood remained for a suitable sample.

Leclerc had dominated, finishing 26.6 seconds ahead of Artem Markelov, who narrowly beat Rowland at the final corner of the event.

The Brit was in second before dropping well behind the Monegasque racer and could not hold off the Russian, who avenged his self-made crash while fighting with him the month previous at Hungary.

Stewards gave both a five-second time penalty for their behavior during the overtaking phase, as Rowland was deemed to have forced his rival off track, and Markelov gained an advantage by speeding through the run-off area and claiming second.

Final Classification

This result now shows Markelov as the winner, his third of 2017, ahead of Russian Time teammate Luca Ghiotto. The victor finished 5.9s ahead of Ghiotto on track, with the amended gap now just 0.9s.

Antonio Fuoco inherits the final spot on the podium, with Racing Engineering’s Gustav Malja and Nyck de Vries fourth and fifth.

Sergio Sette Camara moves up to sixth, as Roberto Merhi takes seventh and Norman Nato’s eighth. Connecticut’s Santino Ferrucci finishes in the points for the second time in three races in ninth, ahead of Campos’ Robert Visoiu.

It doesn’t do much for title competitiveness – with Leclerc’s lead still a massive 54 points with just 161 remaining in the season. The interesting note is the contest for second as Rowland and Markelov are now separated by just eight.

EMAIL CAMERON AT @cpatersonf1@gmail.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @PatersonCameron

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
F2 Open Wheel

Leclerc Soars to Feature Victory in Spa

Monegasque dominates from lights to flag for 6th win
 
Charles Leclerc put in a crushing display of dominance for victory in this afternoon’s FIA Formula 2 Championship feature race at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, storming off from pole when the lights went out and leaving his rivals floundering in his wake as he brought home his sixth win of the season by almost half a minute, ahead of Artem Markelov and Oliver Rowland.
 
The start was the best chance his rivals had of stopping the Monegasque driver, who sat alone on the front row when P2 man Nicholas Latifi failed to make the grid: a storming start by Oliver Rowland saw the title rivals run side by side through La Source before touching, with an element of the Briton’s front wing detaching as he watched Leclerc pull ahead and away when the pair headed towards Eau Rouge, ahead of Antonio Fuoco, Luca Ghiotto, Gustav Malja, Nyck De Vries, Markelov and Alexander Albon.
 
Further back Jordan King picked up a puncture after complaining of debris, with the tyre slowly disintegrating around the circuit, while Louis Deletraz and Sergio Sette Camara came together to the Swiss driver’s detriment: he was soon limping back to the pits as a VSC period opened to remove the debris and get the race underway once more, with Markelov soon lining up behind his teammate until Ghiotto slid past his countryman Fuoco to put himself on course for a podium.
 
Markelov was filling the Italian’s mirrors while further forward Rowland was the first driver to pit for fresh rubber, on lap 7: Malja followed him in next time around, with Ghiotto and De Vries repeating the process on lap 10, but all eyes were on the leader, who stopped next time by and re-emerged ahead of the one-sided fight between Norman Nato and Rowland in P3, with the Briton soon dispatching the Frenchman but unable to get close to Leclerc, who was simply faster than everyone else on track.
 
Markelov was now in the lead, on the alternate strategy ahead of Fuoco, and the Russian was clearly looking to bring home a strong result following his Budapest disappointments: he could pull away from Fuoco but the Italian’s teammate was relentlessly closing the gap, shrinking it to just 7 seconds when Markelov finally pitted on lap 16, coming out in P5 and hoping his better tyres would propel him forward again.
 
And so it proved: while Leclerc pulled away from Rowland out front Markelov started to dispatch the drivers between them, mugging Malja on lap 18 and easing past teammate Ghiotto at the end of the Kemmel straight on lap 21, before hunting down Rowland as the laps counted down. Out front Leclerc took the plaudits for a sparkling win, while Markelov attacked Rowland at the Bus Stop, was pushed wide, and out-dragged Rowland to the line for P2.
 
Just behind the podium Ghiotto held off a huge attack from Fuoco for P4, while Malja won the first battle with new teammate De Vries by a second for 6th, with Sette Camara grabbing the reverse pole for tomorrow’s sprint race after finishing ahead of Roberto Merhi and Norman Nato, who claimed the final point after mugging Robert Visoiu on the penultimate lap for P10.
 
Preliminary Feature Race Classification
 
 
Driver
Team
 
 
1.
Charles Leclerc
PREMA Racing
 
 
2.
Artem Markelov
RUSSIAN TIME
 
 
3.
Oliver Rowland
DAMS
 
 
4.
Luca Ghiotto
RUSSIAN TIME
 
 
5.
Antonio Fuoco
PREMA Racing
 
 
6.
Gustav Malja
Racing Engineering
 
 
7.
Nyck De Vries
Racing Engineering
 
 
8.
Sergio Sette Camara
MP Motorsport
 
 
9.
Roberto Merhi
Rapax
 
 
10.
Norman Nato
Pertamina Arden
 
 
11.
Santino Ferrucci
Trident
 
 
12.
Robert Visoiu
Campos Racing
 
 
13.
Nabil Jeffri
Trident
 
 
14.
Alexander Albon
ART Grand Prix
 
 
15.
Ralph Boschung
Campos Racing
 
 
16.
Louis Delétraz
Rapax
 
 
17.
Sean Gelael
Pertamina Arden
 
 
18.
Nobuharu Matsushita
ART Grand Prix
 
 
   
 
 
 
 
Not Classified
 
 
 
 
Jordan King
MP Motorsport
 
 
 
Nicholas Latifi
DAMS
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Fastest Lap
 
 
 
 
Charles Leclerc
1:58.721 on lap 12
 
Categories
F2 Open Wheel

Seventh Heaven for Leclerc in Qualifying

Championship leader on seven from seven in Budapest
 
Charles Leclerc has continued his untouchable run in qualifying by grabbing an ever-increasing record of seven poles in a row this afternoon in Budapest, defying his earlier comments that the Hungaroring was not a track that suited him to annex the top spot by almost half a second from Oliver Rowland and Artem Markelov.
 
The Monegasque driver stopped the clocks at 1:26.268 halfway through a hot and sunny session despite a red flag on his fast lap briefly slowing him, with his rivals unable to do anything about the gap on their second set of tyres as Leclerc continued his run, claiming every pole of the season so far.
 
All of the grid were straight out on track when the lights went green except Alexander Albon, Pertamina Arden teammates Norman Nato and Sean Gelael, and the championship leader: Rowland led the early running despite a messy first flyer, with the final 4 drivers finally emerging just as their rivals had finished their fast laps and were starting to return to the pits, with Markelov and Antonio Fuoco grabbing P2 and 3 on their final tours.
 
The last 4 drivers timed their run to hit a first flying lap as the rest of their rivals returned to the pits to ensure a clear run, but unfortunately for them all Gelael spun to a stop in the mid-section of the circuit, prompting the red flags to emerge and killing off Leclerc, Albon and Nato’s fast laps. The track remained closed for just 3 minutes, and the trio were straight back out on track to make up for lost time, with Nato at the front of the queue.
 
Leclerc, at the back of the trio, had the luxury to make some space ahead of himself for his fast lap, and it paid off in spades: he topped the 2nd and 3rd sector times to easily claim P1 before they all returned for fresh rubber as their rivals re-emerged. The three drivers had a quick tyre stop before returning again, with Leclerc the last man out as the clock wound down, but they needn’t have bothered: no one could get closed to the Ferrari Academy driver, and he had the luxury of returning without the need to set a better time.
 
Behind the top 3 Jordan King, Fuoco, Nato, Nicholas Latifi, Nyck De Vries, Nobuharu Matsushita  and Sergio Canamasas rounded out the top 10, with debutant Santino Ferrucci impressively grabbing P11 well within a second of pole, all of whom will be hoping their race pace can make a dent in the Leclerc’s plans for tomorrow’s feature race.
 
Preliminary Qualifying Classification
 
 
Driver
Team
Laptime
Laps
1.
Charles Leclerc
PREMA Racing
1:26.268
9
2.
Oliver Rowland
DAMS
1:26.731
9
3.
Artem Markelov
RUSSIAN TIME
1:26.806
11
4.
Jordan King
MP Motorsport
1:26.849
9
5.
Antonio Fuoco
PREMA Racing
1:26.885
11
6.
Norman Nato
Pertamina Arden
1:26.968
12
7.
Nicholas Latifi
DAMS
1:26.973
11
8.
Nyck De Vries
Rapax
1:27.026
12
9.
Nobuharu Matsushita
ART Grand Prix
1:27.103
11
10.
Sergio Canamasas
Rapax
1:27.129
12
11.
Santino Ferrucci
Trident
1:27.139
12
12.
Alexander Albon
ART Grand Prix
1:27.221
11
13.
Luca Ghiotto
RUSSIAN TIME
1:27.238
12
14.
Robert Visoiu
Campos Racing
1:27.301
12
15.
Ralph Boschung
Campos Racing
1:27.339
9
16.
Sergio Sette Camara
MP Motorsport
1:27.492
12
17.
Louis Delétraz
Racing Engineering
1:27.582
12
18.
Gustav Malja
Racing Engineering
1:27.804
11
19.
Nabil Jeffri
Trident
1:28.248
11
 
Sean Gelael
Pertamina Arden
1:46.783
2
 
Categories
F2 Open Wheel

THREE TAKEAWAYS: Formula 2 at Silverstone

A familiar story played out as Formula 2 at Silverstone, as Charles Leclerc extended his championship lead.

The gap is now up to 67 points, now ahead of Artem Markelov, who slipped into second place above Oliver Rowland.

Markelov was in the top-four in both events, while the Renault development racer had a nightmare sprint after finishing third in the feature.

Rowland fell to fourth, with a five-second time penalty for forcing Markelov off the track at the start, before being found guilty of impeding at a safety car restart. He was classified 17th in the final results after a 20-second charge.

Here are some after-thoughts as F2 passes the halfway mark of 2017 – six rounds down, with five to go.

Leclerc’s Drama

Despite getting another four points for pole position before the racing, Leclerc’s Saturday was a stressful one. His day started with brake fire on the formation lap which subsided before an engine fire on Lap 7 of 28.

“It was very bad, I thought the engine had gone,” Leclerc said in the pre-podium room. At the time, it looked as if his run of retirements – three in seven contests – would continue. The smoke quickly disappeared, and he went on to set faster laps in the middle of the event.

“Nothing happened afterwards though, and there were no messages on the steering wheel.”

Then on Lap 20, he lost his left wing mirror but continued to keep focused on the task to win.

He went on to go from eighth to fifth in the results in the next, narrowly missing out on fourth after being overtaken by Sergio Canamasas in the final sector. He picked up the fastest lap to cancel out dropping those two points.

The Monegasque is now just 12 away from having a gap of two feature wins, two poles, one sprint race victory and three fastest laps over Markelov. Chances of having the title battle go to the finale in Abu Dhabi are still looking slim.

Albon’s Tough Weekend

The old quote, ‘all good things come to an end,’ was one characteristic of Saturday’s race.

ART’s Alexander Albon’s streak of always placing in the top-10 stopped, coming 17th after stalling on the first formation lap.

He was one of three drivers to have problems prior to the start, with Nyck de Vries having a terminal car issue and rookie Callum Ilott also stalling.

It was the first race since the opening round in Bahrain where he was out-qualified by teammate Nobuharu Matsushita, starting 13th, while he made up eight places to 10th in the sprint.

Championship contender Markelov is now the only person to finish every round in the top-10. Jordan King technically completed all events in this position until his retirement on Sunday.

Latifi’s First Win

Nicholas Latifi had the pole for the next race and delivered his first victory for almost five years.

He led every lap and controlled a late safety car restart, and the DAMS driver was helped by Rowland slowing the rest, with the Brit 5.0s behind on the final lap.

“I had to defend through the first few corners, but once I got my head down, I was able to add to my advantage while looking after the tires,” he said. “I’m really thrilled to get the win – it kind of makes up for the one that got away in Barcelona. I haven’t won in single seaters for too long, so this gives me a massive boost going forward.

“I’ve worked really hard to take a big step forward in my race pace since last year, and right from the first round of 2017, we showed we can challenge at the front. The goal is to keep fighting for more podiums and wins over the second half of the season – and there’s no reason why we can’t do that.”

The Canadian now places fourth in the drivers’ championship, 26 behind teammate Rowland.

EMAIL CAMERON AT @cpatersonf1@gmail.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @PatersonCameron

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
F2 Open Wheel

Leclerc Flies to Five in Silverstone Feature

Monegasque grabs fifth win despite dramas   
                                                                 
Charles Leclerc has claimed his fifth race of the season at a damp Silverstone in this afternoon’s feature race, making light of a big fluid leak and losing a mirror to fly to victory by almost 9 seconds over a race long battle between Norman Nato and Oliver Rowland.
 
The Monegasque driver led the grid away when the lights went out, easily holding the lead from pole as his fellow front row starter Rowland was slow off the line, allowing Nato into P2 before the first corner ahead of the Briton and countryman Jordan King, Nobuharu Matsushita, Artem Markelov, Sergio Canamasas, and Nicholas Latifi as the field shook out around the circuit.
 
The Russian got a good run on Matsushita next time around to grab P5, but the Japanese driver soon came back at him, battling all the way to the stops, with Luca Ghiotto also squeezing by Latifi just before the pitstops started on lap 6. Most of the front runners were straight in but Leclerc stayed out before suffering a huge fluid release from under his engine cover, coming straight into the pits next time through.
 
If his rivals were hoping for a mechanical gremlin they were to be denied: the Ferrari Academy driver was straight back out on track in the lead of the pitted drivers, behind only Matsushita, Ralph Boschung, Robert Visoiu, Alexander Albon and Callum Ilott, all of who started on the harder compound. With the fight between Nato and Rowland raging behind, Leclerc soon started slicing through the cars ahead of him back towards P1.
 
As the laps wound down Leclerc was moving up, but on lap 20 his left mirror flew off his car, giving him something else to consider as he tracked down Matsushita for the lead. The Japanese driver finally pitted a lap later and Leclerc was back where he started, and pulling away from his rivals just to twist the knife.
 
When the chequered flag dropped Leclerc was 9 seconds ahead of Nato, who denied race long pressure from Rowland to hold on for second. Markelov was the next man across the line, fighting his way past Canamasas and others for P6, while teammate Ghiotto mugged King and Latifi in the closing stages for 6th, with Sean Gelael and Matsushita filling the final points positions.
 
Preliminary Qualifying Classification
 
 
Driver
Team
 
 
1.
Charles Leclerc
PREMA Racing
 
 
2.
Norman Nato
Pertamina Arden
 
 
3.
Oliver Rowland
DAMS
 
 
4.
Artem Markelov
RUSSIAN TIME
 
 
5.
Sergio Canamasas
Rapax
 
 
6.
Luca Ghiotto
RUSSIAN TIME
 
 
7.
Jordan King
MP Motorsport
 
 
8.
Nicholas Latifi
DAMS
 
 
9.
Sean Gelael
Pertamina Arden
 
 
10.
Nobuharu Matsushita
ART Grand Prix
 
 
11.
Ralph Boschung
Campos Racing
 
 
12.
Louis Delétraz
Racing Engineering
 
 
13.
Sergio Sette Camara
MP Motorsport
 
 
14.
Gustav Malja
Racing Engineering
 
 
15.
Nabil Jeffri
Trident
 
 
16.
Antonio Fuoco
PREMA Racing
 
 
17.
Robert Visoiu
Campos Racing
 
 
18.
Alexander Albon
ART Grand Prix
 
 
19.
Callum Ilott
Trident
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Not Classified
 
 
 
 
Nyck De Vries
Rapax
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Fastest Lap  
 
 
 
 
Nobuharu Matsushita
1 :42.512 on lap 23
 
 
 
Categories
F2 Open Wheel

Leclerc Hits Rivals for Six in Silverstone

Monegasque continues his perfect qualifying run  
 
Charles Leclerc made it six poles in six rounds with a stunning lap in this afternoon’s FIA Formula 2 qualifying session in Silverstone, easily continuing his perfect qualifying form to take the top spot by over four tenths from championship rivals Oliver Rowland and Norman Nato.
 
The Monegasque driver was the fastest man on both sets of tyres, running quicker again on his second set to top all three sectors for a combined lap of 1:38.427 to break the hearts of any of his rivals who were hoping for a reversal of fortune at the fast, flowing circuit.
 
The session got underway in overcast and changeable conditions, and with a little rain earlier in the day the drivers were taking no chances and were immediately onto the circuit when the lights went green. Jordan King was the first man to set a competitive time, but the local driver was knocked off the top spot mere seconds later by Leclerc with a 39.1s lap, topping all the sectors on his way there.
 
The entire field returned to the pits until there were just 10 minutes remaining, when they returned en masse to look for a better time. With most of the top runners following each other the top spot changed as each of them crossed the line: first Nato, then Rowland, and finally Leclerc, who cruised around on track as the others return to the pits in case there were any more challenges to his pole.
 
He needn’t have worried, as the other filled the spaces behind the top three: King, Artem Markelov, Nicholas Latifi, Sergio Canamasas, Nobuharu Matsushita and Sergio Sette Camara were all within a second of the top spot and will be looking for more reward in tomorrow’s feature race.
 
Preliminary Qualifying Classification
 
 
Driver
Team
Laptime
Laps
1.
Charles Leclerc
PREMA Racing
1:38.427
11
2.
Oliver Rowland
DAMS
1:38.885
10
3.
Norman Nato
Pertamina Arden
1:38.906
9
4.
Jordan King
MP Motorsport
1:38.988
10
5.
Artem Markelov
RUSSIAN TIME
1:39.062
11
6.
Nicholas Latifi
DAMS
1:39.138
10
7.
Sergio Canamasas
Rapax
1:39.368
12
8.
Nobuharu Matsushita
ART Grand Prix
1:39.405
9
9.
Sergio Sette Camara
MP Motorsport
1:39.413
12
10.
Alexander Albon
ART Grand Prix
1:39.566
11
11.
Nyck De Vries
Rapax
1:39.594
12
12.
Gustav Malja
Racing Engineering
1:39.879
11
13.
Luca Ghiotto
RUSSIAN TIME
1:39.959
12
14.
Louis Delétraz
Racing Engineering
1:39.966
11
15.
Callum Ilott
Trident
1:39.996
13
16.
Ralph Boschung
Campos Racing
1:40.394
12
17.
Robert Visoiu
Campos Racing
1:40.412
12
18.
Nabil Jeffri
Trident
1:40.454
12
19.
Sean Gelael
Pertamina Arden
1:40.478
8
20.
Antonio Fuoco
PREMA Racing
1:40.568
12
 
Categories
F2 Open Wheel

Championship Fight Develops at Halfway Mark

With almost half of the 2017 Formula 2 season gone, it looks like there could be three drivers battling for the title.

Prema Racing’s Charles Leclerc, DAMS’ Oliver Rowland, and Russian Time’s Artem Markelov stand in the top-three of the Drivers’ Championship after five of 11 rounds.

Leclerc added a fifth pole and fourth win to his collection in the Austrian feature event, moving onto 151 points, 49 ahead of Rowland and 52 clear of Markelov.

Each of these racers is falling into using different tactics as they fight to become the latest F2 champion after Luciano Bacheta in the MotorSport Vision-run category in 2012.

Leclerc’s Fast Starts

The Ferrari academy member is keeping one step ahead of his rivals at every round thanks to the four points given for pole. These alone have added an extra 20 to his lead.

Additionally, this has allowed him to win three of five feature races and take the largest number available – 25 – negating any loss to rivals in the next.

He has an average position of 1.5 in the first event and 2.33 in the sprint but has failed to complete the second twice. His total of three retirements is the most of any driver currently in the top-eight of the championship.

Leclerc did not complete the last sprint after hitting the rear right tire of teammate Antonio Fuoco with his left front at a green flag restart.

“We couldn’t have done better, every time we were on-track we were the fastest and even in race two we were very quick,” he said. “It was close at the start and we managed to avoid the stopped car but then later in the race we had contact and I couldn’t do much about it.”

Rowland’s Consistency

Despite having four podiums from the first 10 chances, the Renault-supported racer’s scoring achievements have been noticeably steady.

He has finished three features in fourth, fifth and seventh, having an average position of fourth so far, and has been clinical when needed. The 42 points gained in sprint events in Monaco and Austria when Leclerc has failed to finish have been crucial in keeping him in the battle.

Rowland knows that he has to improve in qualifying to help hunt down the Monegasque rival. The Brit has only started in the front two rows of the grid once in Monaco in third.

“At the moment, it’s quite hard to catch him, especially with his pace in qualifying: we need to address that, and if we can start taking four points and the feature race we’re not even halfway in, so there’s no reason why we can’t turn it around,” he said in the Austrian post-race press conference. “We made a good step here in qualifying and the race again, and we’re finding stuff all the time, so fingers crossed as it’s a home race and it’s only 50 points: one bad weekend for him and a good one for us and we’re back in it, but we need to stay focussed on our job.”

Markelov’s Emergence

Markelov’s win in the Austrian sprint is the only time he’s won two rounds in a GP2 or F2 campaign.

The Russian veteran, in his fourth year of second-tier European open-wheel racing, has top-10 finishes in every contest so far. Only Alexander Albon and Jordan King has the same reliability record.

He has just entered the fight for the championship, now just five points behind Rowland as both rivals have lost out at periods.

A gain of 43 has been made in events where Leclerc has suffered a DNF, while he is the only driver other than the leader to claim more than one fastest lap. He has set the fastest time on four occasions – adding another eight onto his total.

Markelov believes he also needs to develop in qualifying, where he has only finished in the top-five twice in Monaco and Azerbaijan, after starting Austria’s feature in 15th.

“It [the win] is actually a good boost for me for the next race, and I need to improve my qualifying compared to this race because it was a bit of a disaster, so if I get a good qualifying I can fight again for the top-three in Silverstone,” he said.

EMAIL CAMERON AT @cpatersonf1@gmail.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @PatersonCameron

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
F2 Open Wheel

Leclerc Soars to Feature Victory

Monegasque claims fourth win of the season  
 
Charles Leclerc has extended his championship lead with a sparkling win in muggy conditions in this afternoon’s FIA Formula 2 feature race at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria, dictating the pace throughout the race to record a convincing victory ahead of Nicholas Latifi and PREMA teammate Antonio Fuoco.
 
The Monegasque driver controlled the race right from the start, when Fuoco made a better initial getaway from P2 but Leclerc was quicker in the second phase and into the corner, leading the race once again as the rest of the field shook out between the pair. Championship contender Oliver Rowland made a poor getaway on the option tyres and was swamped into turn one, with the ART pair of Alexander Albon and Nobuharu Matsushita as well as DAMS teammate Latifi blasting past the British racer.
 
The PREMA pair swapped fastest laps as they pulled away from their pursuers, but Fuoco ultimately had no answer for his teammate’s pace as the gap grew between them. Latifi was the first of the option-shod drivers to pit, on lap 7, with his teammate coming in one lap later but emerging behind the Canadian, who had driven a great first stint but had no response when Rowland blasted inside him at turn on lap 13 for P8 on track, and a net podium if his strategy worked.
 
Leclerc, however, was unruffled, maintaining the gap back to Rowland the leader of the option drivers and a solid hand on a net victory. Rowland was doing what he could to make his strategy work, overtaking prime drivers and trying to close the gap, but it was to no avail: Fuoco pitted on lap 31 and emerged between the DAMS drivers, Leclerc came in a lap later and emerged ahead of Rowland, and when Matsushita pitted next time through the Ferrari Academy driver was back in P1.
 
Unfortunately the effort had taken a toll on Rowland’s tyres, allowing his rivals to regain a march on him: Fuoco got through the Briton on lap 33, Latifi dispatched his teammate 3 laps later and, remarkably given the age difference in their tyres, also pushed past Fuoco on lap 38 to form the podium: Leclerc slowed in the end but easily controlled the run to the line for a fine victory ahead of Latifi and Fuoco, with Rowland just unable to unseat the Italian for a podium. Albon and Matsushita were next across the line, running as they had all weekend, with Ralph Boschung an impressive 7th from P11 on the grid and Artem Markelov on the reverse pole from P14, ahead of Jordan King and Sean Gelael, who mugged Robert Visiou for the final point on the final lap.
 
Feature Race Provisional Classification
 
 
Driver
Team
 
 
 
1.
Charles Leclerc
PREMA Racing
 
 
 
2.
Nicholas Latifi
DAMS
 
 
 
3.
Antonio Fuoco
PREMA Racing
 
 
 
4.
Oliver Rowland
DAMS
 
 
 
5.
Alexander Albon
ART Grand Prix
 
 
 
6.
Nobuharu Matsushita
ART Grand Prix
 
 
 
7.
Ralph Boschung
Campos Racing
 
 
 
8.
Artem Markelov
RUSSIAN TIME
 
 
 
9.
Jordan King
MP Motorsport
 
 
 
10.
Sean Gelael
Pertamina Arden
 
 
 
11.
Robert Visoiu
Campos Racing
 
 
 
12.
Gustav Malja
Racing Engineering
 
 
 
13.
Nyck De Vries
Rapax
 
 
 
14.
Luca Ghiotto
RUSSIAN TIME
 
 
 
15.
Sergio Canamasas
Rapax
 
 
 
16.
Sergio Sette Camara
MP Motorsport
 
 
 
17.
Louis Delétraz
Racing Engineering
 
 
 
18.
Nabil Jeffri
Trident
 
 
 
19.
Raffaele Marciello
Trident
 
 
 
     
 
 
 
 
Not Classified
 
 
 
 
 
Norman Nato
Pertamina Arden
 
 
 
     
 
 
 
 
Fastest Lap
 
 
 
 
 
Nobuharu Matsushita
ART Grand Prix
1:15.854
 on Lap 34
 
Categories
F2 Open Wheel

Leclerc Makes it Five in Austria

Championship leader claims fifth pole in a row
 
Charles Leclerc showed his rivals a clean pair of heels by claiming an astonishing fifth pole position in a row at this afternoon’s qualifying session at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, setting the fastest times on both sets of tyres to easily lead home rivals Sergio Sette Camara and PREMA teammate Antonio Fuoco by three tenths in a warm and dry session in Austria.
 
The Monegasque driver stopped the clocks at 1:13.396 late in the session to easily claim the pole position: his rivals threw everything they had at him but could not close the large gap up to stop him continuing his run of poles this year.
 
The session opened to warm but cloudy conditions as all of the drivers heading straight out on track, with Leclerc only briefly delayed after stalling while he waited for the green lights. Nyck De Vries was the first on track and soon led the way, setting the first competitive time before Nobuharu Matsushita, Oliver Rowland, Antonio Fuoco, Sette Camara and Leclerc alternated on the top of the timesheets, the latter taking a lead of a tenth back to the pits.
 
His rivals all drew breath before pushing once again on the second set of tyres, with ART pair Alexander Albon and Matsushita briefing running 1-2, until first Sette Camara and then Leclerc usurped the pair: with just a few minutes remaining Luca Ghiotto pushed hard but lost time in the final sector and teammate Artem Markelov was delayed by traffic returning to the pits, while behind them Leclerc set the 2nd quickest time of the session and Sette Camara came to rest in the gravel at turn 8 after pushing too hard to close the gap.
 
Behind the top three Albon made a solid return from injury for P4 ahead of Rowland, Matsushita, De Vries, Ghiotto, Nicholas Latifi and Norman Nato, with the top 13 drivers within a second of the top time. On a circuit which famously provides great racing for a grid which is so close together on time, tomorrow’s Feature Race should be unmissable.
 
Preliminary Free Practice Classification
 
 
Driver
Team
Laptime
Laps
1.
Charles Leclerc
PREMA Racing
1:13.396
14
2.
Sergio Sette Camara
MP Motorsport
1:13.736
13
3.
Antonio Fuoco
PREMA Racing
1:13.776
14
4.
Alexander Albon
ART Grand Prix
1:13.888
15
5.
Oliver Rowland
DAMS
1:13.903
14
6.
Nobuharu Matsushita
ART Grand Prix
1:13.922
14
7.
Nyck De Vries
Rapax
1:14.034
15
8.
Luca Ghiotto
RUSSIAN TIME
1:14.180
14
9.
Nicholas Latifi
DAMS
1:14.193
14
10.
Norman Nato
Pertamina Arden
1:14.203
14
11.
Ralph Boschung
Campos Racing
1:14.363
16
12.
Louis Delétraz
Racing Engineering
1:14.377
16
13.
Jordan King
MP Motorsport
1:14.384
14
14.
Sergio Canamasas
Rapax
1:14.489
15
15.
Artem Markelov
RUSSIAN TIME
1:14.534
16
16.
Sean Gelael
Pertamina Arden
1:14.555
15
17.
Raffaele Marciello
Trident
1:14.643
14
18.
Robert Visoiu
Campos Racing
1:14.653
15
19.
Nabil Jeffri
Trident
1:14.672
17
20.
Gustav Malja
RUSSIAN TIME
1:15.121
16
 
Categories
F2 Open Wheel

Leclerc Dominates Baku Feature Race

Monegasque driver eases to third victory
 
Charles Leclerc showed his rivals a clean pair of heels in this morning’s FIA Formula 2 Championship feature race at the Baku City Circuit, easily controlling the race for a lights to flag victory, his second in a feature race and third overall, ahead of Nyck De Vries and Nicholas Latifi.
 
The win was set up at the start, with the Monegasque driver getting away easily as the lights went out to lead his rivals into turn one, with Latifi easily following him past a slow Nobuharu Matsushita in front of De Vries and Antonio Fuoco, with the Japanese driver just holding off Artem Markelov and Oliver Rowland into turn two. Unfortunately for Johnny Cecotto, who stalled before being restarted in the pitlane, his race lasted two corners before he found the wall, prompting the first safety car period.
 
Leclerc backed the pack up enormously before streaking away to hold the lead at the restart next time through, with De Vries running outside and through Latifi at turn one while behind the Canadian Matsushita and Markelov made short work of Fuoco, who now had Sergio Canamasas to contend with behind him until lap 7, when the Spaniard got past his Italian rival before he tried to regain the position at the next corner: the pair came together and Fuoco ran over Canamasas’ rear wheel and into the wall.
 
With almost all of the drivers starting on the supersofts it was time for their stops: Leclerc, Latifi, Matsushita and Rowland were straight in next time by, with De Vries claiming some clean air at the front for a lap before he also inevitably pitted. Discounting Luca Ghiotto, Ralph Boschung and Nabil Jeffri on the alternate strategy, the top five remained Leclerc from De Vries, Latifi, Markelov and Matsushita, with the Malaysian finding the wall next time round to prompt a brief VSC period to remove his car.
 
When the race went live again Leclerc wasted no time in moving forward, passing Boschung for P2 just before Louis Deletraz found the wall on lap 12, prompting a second safety car period and killing off any small hope race leader Ghiotto had of scoring any points, compounding his poor luck from qualifying. The Italian easily controlled the restart with Leclerc not needing to pass, and behind the pair De Vries running inside Boschung and Latifi going outside to slide in behind the virtual race leader and putting up an obstacle to those behind looking to snaffle their podium finishes.
 
Rowland was on a charge and made short work of Markelov, who was caught behind Boschung at turn one, and when Ghiotto pitted on lap 19 and Matsushita ran deep at turn one the race order was set at the front. 6 laps later Sean Gelael found the barrier at the tight turn 8, leaving Sergey Sirotkin nowhere to go but into him, blocking the circuit: the safety car re-emerged to lead the remainder of the drivers into the pitlane for a red flag finish.
 
Leclerc had easily controlled the late pace to hold De Vries, Latifi and a charging Rowland in check for another solid victory. Behind the Briton was Markelov and Norman Nato, who finished on top of Jordan King after a race-long battle, and although Sergio Sette Camara was next into the pits the classification rolled back a lap as usual, leaving Boschung delighted to finish in P8 despite a last lap incident, ahead of Canamasas and Sirotkin.
 
Feature Race Provisional Classification 
                                         
 
Driver
Team
1.
Charles Leclerc
PREMA Racing
2.
Nyck De Vries
Rapax
3.
Nicholas Latifi
DAMS
4.
Oliver Rowland
DAMS
5.
Artem Markelov
RUSSIAN TIME
6.
Norman Nato
Pertamina Arden
7.
Jordan King
MP Motorsport
8.
Ralph Boschung
Campos Racing
9.
Sergio Canamasas
Trident
10.
Sergey Sirotkin
ART Grand Prix
11.
Gustav Malja
Racing Engineering
12.
Nobuharu Matsushita
ART Grand Prix
13.
Sergio Sette Camara
MP Motorsport
14.
Sean Gelael
Pertamina Arden
15.
Robert Visoiu
Campos Racing
16.
Luca Ghiotto
RUSSIAN TIME
 
 
Not classified
 
 
Louis Delétraz
Racing Engineering
 
Nabil Jeffri
Trident
 
Antonio Fuoco
PREMA Racing
 
Johnny Cecotto
Rapax
 
 
Fastest Lap
 
 
Charles Leclerc
PREMA Racing