Prema Racing‘s Charles Leclerc claimed the fourth victory of his FIA Formula 2 Series career by cruising to victory at the Red Bull Ring.
The Monegasque driver was joined by Nicholas Latifi and Prema team-mate Antonio Fuoco on the podium.
Leclerc, started from his fifth pole position in the category continuing his dominant form in qualifying.
Fellow Ferrari Drivers Academy member Fuoco started alongside him on the front row following Sergio Sette Camara‘s disqualification from qualifying due to not having enough fuel remaining in his car.
As the lights went out Fuoco had the better initial start of the Prema duo but Leclerc was able to have a better second phase going into the first corner.
Championship contender Oliver Rowland made a poor start on the option tyres and was swamped by the ART Grand Prix pair of Alexander Albon and Nobuharu Matsushita as well as his DAMS team-mate Latifi.
As the Prema pair escaped out front they exchanged fastest laps, but Fuoco ultimately had no answer to the pace of Leclerc.
Latifi was the first of the soft shod drivers to take to the pitlane on lap 7, with his team-mate coming in one lap after him. Rowland got past Latifi on lap 13 for P8 and lead car of those that had stopped.
Despite this, Leclerc maintained the gap to Rowland to stay as net leader when he eventually came in for his stop. Rowland tried to close the gap but it was to no avail.
Fuoco came in from P2 to split the DAMS pair as Leclerc came in the next lap to emerge ahead of Rowland.
Matsushita temporarily ran in first before too serving his mandatory pitstop, meaning Leclerc was back in P1.
Rowland’s charge through the field put a strain on his tyres allowing both Fuoco and Latifi to get past him. Latifi also soon found his way past Fuoco as the Canadian went on a late charge to the flag.
In only his fifth race in the series, Leclerc claimed his fourth victory ahead of Latifi and Fuoco. Championship rival Rowland tried getting back at Fuoco but was unable to do so meaning he had to settle for fourth place.
ART duo Albon and Matsushita were next to cross the line followed by Ralph Boschung.
Artem Markelov will start tomorrow’s race on reverse grid pole after claiming eighth place from starting 14th on the grid.
Jordan King, Sean Gelael – who scores his first points since the Austrian round last season – and Robert Visiou complete the top ten.
Series returnee Raffaele Marciello finished 19th and last, with birthday boy Norman Nato the only retirement.
The Sprint Race tomorrow gets underway at 10.20 CEST.
2017 Formula 2 Series Race 1 Results – Red Bull Ring
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