Leclerc Maximises Strategy to Take Feature Race Win

by Connor Jackson

Another measured and collected drive around the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona from Charles Leclerc, saw the Prema Powerteam driver take home his second FIA Formula 2 victory of the year, five seconds ahead of his nearest rival.

It was a fairly clean opening lap for the majority of the field, as pole sitter Charles Leclerc was immediately on the defensive from Luca Ghiotto. The Italian temporarily took the lead into turn three, but the Prema Powerteam driver was not one to be slowed, getting back in front and soon pulling a gap with Fuoco falling behind Alexander Albon.

It had been a much worse race for Leclerc’s teammate though, with Antonio Fuoco clipping the back of the alternative strategy front-runner Artem Markelov. Fuoco broke his front-wing limping back to the pits, while elsewhere, Johnny Ceccoto Jr. spun Louis Deletraz at the final chicane.

Jordan King became the first driver to enter the pits, with Leclerc and Ghiotto also switching tyres before Sergio Canamasas crawled to a halt.

The Spanish driver stopped on track after turn six, forcing a virtual safety car to be deployed. Only after a minute in which Canamasas attempted to restart, did the full safety car get deployed. This was disastrous for race leader Albon who could not use the stoppage to get a ‘free pitstop’. The ART Grand Prix driver would be unable to build a lead, holding off the advancing Oliver Rowland.

Leclerc though would not have an easy time either, with himself and Ghiotto forcing their way through the pack of cars who hadn’t pitted. The Monégasque driver was under a pitstop distance from the leader and looked favourite to win before the leaders had even pitted.

Rowland had taken the lead before the pitstops and led the charge with Albon on faster, newer soft tyres. With five laps to go, the pair were fourth and fifth, chasing Leclerc, Ghiotto and Nobuharu Matsushita who had had a quiet drive all afternoon.

A penultimate lap overtake from Rowland saw him claim the final podium space, though Albon was forced to settle for fifth behind his ART compatriot.

Rowland though could not stop the domination from Leclerc who took the flag from Ghiotto who failed to pressure him in the closing laps, yet still held an advantage over Rowland.

Matsushita, Albon and Nicholas Latifi rounded out the top six, with the safety car proving to be a vital part of Albon’s chances fading away. Despite running as high as third, Gustav Malja suffered from tyre degradation in the closing laps and dropped to seventh as Markelov recovered to take reverse grid pole in eighth.

The top ten was eventually rounded out by Jordan King, who had been knocked through the gravel during the safety car restart and Ralph Boschung with his unique strategy.

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