Matsushita Wins as Latifi Throws Away Victory in Closing Laps


Credit: Zak Mauger/FIA Formula 2

It was the Honda-Backed driver, Nobuharu Matsushita who took the FIA Formula 2 Sprint race win around the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona as race long leader Nicholas Latifi got distracted in the closing laps, running wide and losing the lead.

The victory gives Matsushita a shot at the title after a dismal round in Bahrain put the ART Grand Prix driver on the back foot. He leaves the weekend fifth in the standings on 31 points, 42 behind championship leader Charles Leclerc, who drove another strong race.

The start was once again overshadowed by a safety car that emerged as Nyck de Vries and Antonio Fuoco spun in unison. The pair retired and needed to be cleared, with the result rounding out a dire weekend for Fuoco who was regularly over a second slower than team mate Leclerc.

Latifi had made the best start, quickly scything past polesitter Artem Markelov as the Canadian stretched his advantage on the restart. Markelov meanwhile, had almost stalled away from the line and would only recover to ninth over the course of the race, one place outside of the points.

The DAMS drivers escape had been helped by Gustav Malja, who benefited from track position in second, but failed to keep pace with the front-runners.

Further back, Leclerc would pressure Alexander Albon having already disposed of the fast starting Jordan King. With half a dozen laps left to run, Albon’s tyres were clearly taking their toll, dropping the Thai driver down the order and promoting Leclerc to fifth.

As for the battle for second, Matsushita had managed his time Malja, eventually making his way past with Oliver Rowland following suit. Matsushita and Rowland would set about catching Latifi until he cost himself victory.

Latifi had been distracted by a mirror breaking off, running wide and handing the lead to the Japanese driver. The DAMS pair would run side-by-side as Latifi rejoined, but Rowland followed Matsushita through to claim second with Latifi a disappointed third.

In the closing laps, Leclerc took fourth with King, on fresher tyres, taking fifth ahead of Malja. The points were rounded out by Luca Ghiotto and Albon, as Markelov missed out by 0.4 seconds. Jonny Cecotto Jr finished tenth, a further nine seconds back.