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

Rowland on Top in Dramatic Budapest Feature

Briton wins action packed Hungaroring classic race
 
Oliver Rowland has brought home exactly the result he was looking for after emerging on top of a chaotic FIA Formula 2 feature race at the Hungaroring, holding on from pole despite losing the lead early on and surviving a late attack from Artem Markelov to claim victory ahead of DAMS teammate Nicholas Latifi and Nyck De Vries.
 
Anyone who was expecting a quiet race around the tight, technical circuit was soon proven wrong: track temperatures of 52˚ were soon matched by the heat of battle on it when Rowland made a good start but Markelov made a better one, with the Russian leading the Briton with his countryman Jordan King and Latifi into turn 1, while further back championship leader Charles Leclerc was up to P12 from the back and looking for more on the alternate tyre strategy.
 
King was the first of the front runners to start losing his tyres, with Latifi easing by him on lap 8 just before the first stops started to come: King stopped 2 laps later with Rowland pitting on lap 11 and Markelov coming in to cover it next time through but emerging a few seconds behind the Briton. Meanwhile Alexander Albon was the first of the medium shod drivers, but Leclerc was determined to change that: the Monegasque pushed around the outside at turn 4 but got airborne over the new kerbs before biding his time to attack once more.
 
Eventually the better car shone through: Albon braked a little early into turn 1 with Leclerc easily claiming his scalp at the next corner for the lead on lap 15, but the real fight looked to be over as Rowland led the pitted drivers and was only 10 seconds (and shrinking) back down the road and was claiming scalps, passing Sergio Sette Camara, Louis Deletraz and Albon with ease over the following laps before reclaiming the lead from Leclerc as the Monegasque stopped for fresh tyres on lap 23.
 
Leclerc re-emerged in P11, which became P9 shortly afterwards as Robert Visoiu and Sergio Canamasas proved two can’t become one at the first corner, prompting a safety car to clean up the mess and bunching up the field as it did so. The race was live again on lap 27 with Leclerc on a charge, using his new tyres to blast past Luca Ghiotto, King and Gustav Malja at turn 1, with the Briton running over the turn 4 kerbs and clattering into Ralph Boschung, picking up a 10 second penalty as a result.
 
Markelov had been protecting his tyres and was clearly the fastest man at the front of the race and tried to run inside Rowland on the front straight, but with the gap shrinking the Russian ran across the grass, over the kerbs and into the wall on the outside of turn 1, with Latifi also attacking his teammate and being forced wide at turn 2 just before the safety car’s re-emergence was announced, bringing proceedings to an end.
 
The safety car wheeled in on the last lap to allow Rowland to roll across the line for victory ahead of teammate Latifi and De Vries, who stayed out of trouble and quietly moved forward all race long, with Leclerc finishing P4 from 19th on the grid ahead of Nobuharu Matsushita, Luca Ghiotto, Norman Nato up to P7 after stopping ahead of everyone, Albon, an impressive P9 for Sean Gelael from last on the grid, and Santino Ferrucci, who picked up the final point on debut.  
 
Preliminary Feature Race Classification
 
 
Driver
Team
 
 
1.
Oliver Rowland
DAMS
 
 
2.
Nicholas Latifi
DAMS
 
 
3.
Nyck De Vries
Rapax
 
 
4.
Charles Leclerc
PREMA Racing
 
 
5.
Nobuharu Matsushita
ART Grand Prix
 
 
6.
Luca Ghiotto
RUSSIAN TIME
 
 
7.
Norman Nato
Pertamina Arden
 
 
8.
Alexander Albon
ART Grand Prix
 
 
9.
Sean Gelael
Pertamina Arden
 
 
10.
Santino Ferrucci
Trident
 
 
11.
Louis Delétraz
Racing Engineering
 
 
12.
Ralph Boschung
Campos Racing
 
 
13.
Nabil Jeffri
Trident
 
 
14.
Sergio Sette Camara
MP Motorsport
 
 
15.
Gustav Malja
Racing Engineering
 
 
16.
Jordan King
MP Motorsport
 
 
17.
Artem Markelov
RUSSIAN TIME
 
 
   
 
 
 
 
Not Classified
 
 
 
 
Robert Visoiu
Campos Racing
 
 
 
Sergio Canamasas
Rapax
 
 
 
Antonio Fuoco
PREMA Racing
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Fastest Lap
   
 
 
Nicholas Latifi
1:30.153 on lap 18
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

Rowland Flies to Monaco Feature Win

Briton defies Monaco curse for famous victory
 
Oliver Rowland has overturned his traditional poor luck at the Circuit de Monaco to record an emphatic victory in this afternoon’s FIA Formula 2 Feature Race, flying around the fabled streets of the Principality to grab the top step of the podium ahead of Artem Markelov and Nobuharu Matsushita.
 
The Briton, who after the race admitted that he had little expectation for the race given his previously disappointing record in Monaco, came back from a relatively slow start to grab the win against the odds, closing the championship gap to leader Charles Leclerc, who failed to finish the race, to just 3 points in the process.
 
When the lights went out poleman Leclerc just held off front row starter Alexander Albon into Ste Devote, with Rowland denying a fast starting Matsushita, who blasted past Markelov at the start, as they headed up the hill towards Casino Square. The front two were in a race of their own as they swapped fastest laps and build a big gap back to the Englishman until a retirement for Nicholas Latifi in the tunnel brought out the safety car.
 
For those who started on super softs, led by Luca Ghiotto in P9, it was a godsend, but for the others it posed a question, to be answered quickly: change early onto super softs and try to get to the end of the race, or hold onto your strategy and hope that you can build enough of a lead to pit under green later? Albon was the most prominent driver to gamble on the change, emerging in P7 ahead of Ghiotto, promoting Rowland to P2 behind Leclerc in the process.
 
The race went live on lap 12, and once again Leclerc left the others behind as Rowland eked out a gap back to Matsushita, Markelov, Jordan King and Norman Nato, with Ghiotto trying in vain to find a way past Albon behind them before Louis Deletraz and Robert Visiou came together at Mirabeau, prompting another safety car period which undid those who gambled earlier.
 
Leclerc was called in just after the collision but before the SC was called, with his pursuers coming in behind the safety car: Markelov jumped Matsushita in the pits but the trio emerging in front of the local driver, demoting him to 4th. Worse was to come for the Monegasque though, as he returned to the pits a lap later with a mechanical gremlin which brought his race to an early end, along with a similar issue for near neighbour Nato.
 
With the track now clear in front of him Rowland tore away at the restart, building a solid lead which would hold all the way to the flag, with Markelov closing over the final laps but unable to do anything about the Briton in front of him. Matsushita held on for the final podium position ahead of teammate Albon, whose tyre gamble hadn’t paid off but who was able keep Ghiotto at bay for P4, while Gustav Malja took advantage of starting on super softs to push up from 11th on the grid to P6 on the line, just denying a charging Nyck De Vries (who jumped from P14 to tomorrow’s front row) and Rapax teammate Johnny Cecotto, with King and Sergio Canamasas closing out the points positions.
 
Feature Race Provisional Classification 
                                         
 
Driver
Team
1.
Oliver Rowland
DAMS
2.
Artem Markelov
RUSSIAN TIME
3.
Nobuharu Matsushita
ART Grand Prix
4.
Alexander Albon
ART Grand Prix
5.
Luca Ghiotto
RUSSIAN TIME
6.
Gustav Malja
Racing Engineering
7.
Nyck De Vries
Rapax
8.
Johnny Cecotto
Rapax
9.
Jordan King
MP Motorsport
10.
Sergio Canamasas
Trident
11.
Antonio Fuoco
PREMA Racing
12.
Ralph Boschung
Campos Racing
13.
Sean Gelael
Pertamina Arden
14.
Nabil Jeffri
Trident
15.
Louis Delétraz
Racing Engineering
 
 
Not classified
 
 
Sergio Sette Camara
MP Motorsport
 
Charles Leclerc
PREMA Racing
 
Norman Nato
Pertamina Arden
 
Robert Visoiu
Campos Racing
 
Nicholas Latifi
DAMS
 
 
Fastest Lap
 
 
Charles Leclerc
1:21.403 on lap 18
Categories
Formula One Open Wheel

Rowland Becomes Renault Development Driver

Renault’s work at developing its team for future years has continued with another signing.

DAMS Formula 2 driver Oliver Rowland has been promoted to development driver status at the team.

Rowland joined its driver academy in 2016 while taking part in GP2 with MP Motorsport, finishing ninth in the championship with four podiums.

He now joins regular pilots Nico Hulkenberg, Jolyon Palmer and third driver Sergey Sirotkin. His new role includes work in its simulator and time on track during the season.

The 24-year-old is pleased to remain in the Renault family to continue his progress.

“My aim has always been to get a role in Formula 1 so it’s great to see all my hard work pay off,” he said. “The Renault Sport Academy was the perfect training ground and the role of development driver is another great step after being within the Renault family for so many years with Formula Renault 2.0 and 3.5. I learnt a lot last year including working at Enstone in the simulator, so I feel well prepared for this role. I’m proud to be part of the team and I’ll be working hard to do everything I can to assist the team in their development of the R.S.17.”

Rowland is expected to be quick again this year, finishing with second and third-fastest times in F2 testing last month. He was one of just three drivers to stay in the top-five on timesheets between tests.

EMAIL CAMERON AT @cpatersonf1@gmail.com

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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

Sirotkin Becomes Renault Reserve Driver

Former GP2 driver Sergey Sirotkin has become Renault’s reserve driver ahead of the 2017 Formula 1 season.

His new role was clarified as their new R.S.17 car was unveiled in London, UK, as the Russian driver appeared on stage at the event alongside full-time race drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer.

The role is an upgrade on his development driver position of 2016, and he is expected to take part in practice sessions throughout the year. SMP Racing, the group that supports young Russian talent, also features on the lower bargeboards of the car.

Sirotkin has spent the last two seasons in GP2, finishing third in the Drivers’ Championship in both years while racing for Rapax and ART Grand Prix. He made 44 starts, winning three times and standing on the podium on 13 occasions.

Managing director Cyril Abiteboul praised Sirotkin as each of their drivers was described by him.

“Stability is important,” he said during their event, which was live-streamed on the team’s website and social media accounts. We are happy to continue the development program with Sergey. After a very good GP2 season, he will continue to focus on his development role with us as reserve driver for the team. He will have more opportunity to run in the car on Fridays.

“What struck us, Nick [Chester] and Alain [Prost], all the team involved, was the professionalism, the attention to detail and also his appetite to be at the factory constantly each time looking at the simulator. He’s focused.”

ACADEMY CHANGES

Renault has also made changes to their academy, dropping Louis Deletraz and Oliver Rowland from their program.

The two drivers comprised a five-driver lineup in 2016, but the team has selected a young foursome to complete their 2017 total.

GP3 driver Jack Aitken and Formula Renault Eurocup’s Sun Yue Yang remain in the program for a sophomore season, with other Eurocup competitors Max Fewtrell and Jarno Opmeer being invited to progress their careers.

Deletraz and Rowland are both competing against each other on the GP2 grid in 2017, racing for Racing Engineering and DAMS respectively.

EMAIL CAMERON AT cpatersonf1@gmail.com

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

Latifi and Rowland Team Up at DAMS

On Monday, DAMS announced that Nicholas Latifi and Oliver Rowland would drive for the team in the 2017 GP2 season.

Latifi is set to race in his second season for them after spending 2016 alongside Alex Lynn, while Rowland moves over from MP Motorsport to replace his compatriot. Rowland will pilot their no.9 car, while Latifi will sit in their no.10 machine in a pairing of two Renault academy drivers.

Canadian Latifi has taken part in 32 races since his debut in 2014, making an instant impact for the team when finishing runner-up to eventual champion Pierre Gasly in the opening feature in Spain last May, the best result of his career to date.

Brit Rowland has raced 29 times in GP2 since 2015, claiming a best result of second place at the Austrian sprint race last season. He finished ninth in the Drivers’ Championship in 2016.

Their new arrival confirmed that he wanted to aim for winning in 2017 in his second full season in the series.

“The overall aim is to go and dominate the championship, that’s my personal target and is shared by the team,” Rowland said.

“DAMS have won championships in previous years with [Davide] Valsecchi, [Romain] Grosjean and [Jolyon] Palmer, so I’m coming to an outfit with a lot of pedigree and I’ll have to make sure I’m at the top of my game.”

Latifi also wants to join his new team-mate at the sharp end of the timesheets.

“Our big goal is to be consistently running at the front and having a better result in the championship than we did last year,” Latifi said.

“I know where we have to improve and the team knows where I have to as well. I’ve already made my first visit to the workshop this year and everyone is extremely motivated. There’s definitely a really positive feeling in the team about the upcoming season.”

Current Confirmed 2017 GP2 Series Grid (TBA = To Be Announced):

Prema Racing: #1 Charles Leclerc, #2 Antonio Fuoco

Racing Engineering: #3 Louis Deletraz, #4 Gustav Malja

Russian Time: #5 TBA, #6 TBA

ART Grand Prix: #7 Nobuharu Matsushita, #8 TBA

DAMS: #9 Oliver Rowland, #10 Nicholas Latifi

Campos Racing: #11 TBA, #12 TBA

MP Motorsport: #14 TBA, #15 Sergio SetteCamara

Trident: #16 TBA, #17 TBA

Rapax: #18 TBA, #19 TBA

Pertamina Arden: #20 Norman Nato, #21 Sean Gelael

Hilmer Motorsport (TBA): #22 TBA, #23 TBA

EMAIL CAMERON AT cpatersonf1@gmail.com

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.