Oliver Rowland finally became a race winner in the FIA Formula 2 Championship as he took advantage of a safety car period and the bad luck of Charles Leclerc to win the Feature race around the streets of Monaco.
The DAMS driver had started third on the grid and followed Leclerc and Alexander Albon in the opening laps before the first of two safety cars, caused by Nicholas Latifi’s car expiring as he approached the tunnel, saw Albon gamble on pitting to switch to the Supersoft tyre, promoting Rowland to second.
Leclerc pulled away at the restart, extending his lead to over six seconds before heading into the pits for his mandatory pit stop, just as officials decided whether to introduce the safety car for a second time following a collision between Robert Visoiu and Louis Delétraz at the top of Mirabeau.
As he pitted, Rowland, Nobuharu Matsushita and Artem Markelov continued for a further lap, and with the safety car then deployed, all three were able to pit and rejoin ahead of Leclerc, who fell to fourth.
Behind the safety car, Leclerc’s left front wheel began to shake and shudder, and despite a further pit stop to check whether it was a loose tyre, the Monegasque driver was forced to retire the next time around, with a suspension problem then determined.
This left Rowland in the lead ahead of Markelov, who kept the British driver honest until the chequered flag but was unable to get close enough to make a challenge for the win.
Matsushita completed the podium ahead of ART Grand Prix team-mate Albon, who made his Supersoft tyres last a remarkable thirty-four laps, with the Thai driver resisting the pressure from Luca Ghiotto before pulling away from the Italian in the closing laps.
Gustav Malja finished sixth for Racing Engineering ahead of Rapax duo Nyck de Vries and Johnny Cecotto Jr, who will share the front row of the grid for Saturday’s Sprint race.
Jordan King could only finish ninth for MP Motorsport but kept up his early season scoring run, while the final point went to Sergio Canamasas, despite the Trident racer having made an early pit stop for a new front wing after first lap contact.
Both Sean Gelael and Antonio Fuoco stalled on the grid as drivers lined-up for the beginning of the race, forcing another formation lap, with both ultimately starting from the pit lane but finishing outside the points.
Monaco Feature Race Result
|2||6||Artem Markelov||RUS||Russian Time||+0.864s|
|3||7||Nobuharu Matsushita||JAP||ART Grand Prix||+13.769s|
|4||8||Alexander Albon||THA||ART Grand Prix||+19.738s|
|5||5||Luca Ghiotto||ITA||Russian Time||+24.657s|
|6||4||Gustav Malja||SWE||Racing Engineering||+28.082s|
|7||18||Nyck de Vries||NED||Rapax||+28.453s|
|8||19||Johnny Cecotto Jr||VEN||Rapax||+29.125s|
|9||15||Jordan King||GBR||MP Motorsport||+45.552s|
|11||2||Antonio Fuoco||ITA||Prema Racing||+47.818s|
|12||11||Ralph Boschung||SWI||Campos Racing||+50.772s|
|13||21||Sean Gelael||INO||Pertamina Arden||+53.694s|
|14||16||Nabil Jeffri||MAY||Trident||+1 Lap|
|15||3||Louis Deletraz||SWI||Racing Engineering||+2 Laps|
|RET||14||Sergio Sette Camara||BRZ||MP Motorsport||Retired|
|RET||1||Charles Leclerc||MON||Prema Racing||Retired|
|RET||20||Norman Nato||FRA||Pertamina Arden||Retired|
|RET||12||Robert Visoiu||ROM||Campos Racing||Retired|