Nato takes Baku Sprint race victory after Leclerc Penalty

Norman Nato took victory in Baku on Sunday - Credit: Zak Mauger/FIA Formula 2

Norman Nato secured his first FIA Formula 2 Championship race victory on Sunday despite Charles Leclerc taking the chequered flag first in an entertaining Sprint race at the Baku City Circuit.

A storming drive from Feature race winner Leclerc saw him climb up the field despite having dropped a spot on the opening lap, with the Monegasque driver making the most of a strong Prema Racing car, picking off car after car.

Nato had taken over the lead early on when Oliver Rowland pulled off with a gearbox issue, with the Briton having passed polesitter Ralph Boschung early in the race, but the Pertamina Arden driver did not have the pace to keep Leclerc behind him in the final laps.

Unfortunately for Leclerc, he was issued with a ten-second time penalty for failing to slow under yellow flags, meaning that despite taking the chequered flag ahead of Nato, it was Nato who was rewarded with a visit to the top step of the podium.

Nato had survived a close moment with Boschung when the duo battled for second on lap three, with the Frenchman losing a front wing end plate as he pulled out to pass the Campos Racing driver. Despite this, he had the pace and was closing down on Rowland before the DAMS driver pulled off to retire.

Just as Rowland retired, Leclerc began his moves up the field, passing Artem Markelov, Boschung, Sergey Sirotkin, Jordan King and Nicholas Latifi to run second, with Nyck de Vries having retired in the turn three escape road whilst running in that second position.

Such was the pace advantage of Leclerc and Nato that when the penalty was applied, the Prema Racing driver was still able to finish second, with Latifi claiming the final spot on the podium for DAMS, his second trip to the podium of the weekend, while King withstood pressure from behind in the closing stages to take fourth for MP Motorsport ahead of Sirotkin, Markelov, Nobuharu Matsushita and Luca Ghiotto.

Unfortunately for King, he was disqualified post-race for having insufficient tyre pressures in all four of his tyres, meaning that Sirotkin was promoted to fourth ahead of Markelov, with Matsushita, Ghiotto and Boschung completing the top eight.

Baku City Circuit Sprint Race Result

120Norman NatoFRAPertamina Arden40:37.601s
21Charles LeclercMONPrema Racing+8.717s
310Nicholas LatifiCANDAMS+11.574s
415Jordan KingGBRMP Motorsport+12.505s
58Sergey SirotkinRUSART Grand Prix+12.792s
66Artem MarkelovRUSRussian Time+12.890s
77Nobuharu MatsushitaJAPART Grand Prix+14.472s
85Luca GhiottoITARussian Time+16.888s
911Ralph BoschungSWICampos Racing+21.387s
1014Sergio Sette CamaraBRZMP Motorsport+27.343s
1121Sean GelaelINOPertamina Arden+27.827s
1212Robert VisoiuROMCampos Racing+31.612s
132Antonio FuocoITAPrema Racing+32.664s
144Gustav MaljaSWERacing Engineering+34.645s
1519Johnny Cecotto JrVENRapax+35.789s
1617Sergio CanamasasITATrident+49.243s
173Louis DeletrazSWIRacing Engineering+57.152s
1816Nabil JeffriMAYTrident+1:38.931s
RET18Nyck de VriesNEDRapaxRetired
RET9Oliver RowlandGBRDAMSRetired