The Formula 2 Feature Race in Monza saw Luca Ghiotto take an unlikely victory ahead of Antonio Fuoco and Nobuharu Matsushita.
Racing was set to get underway at 16.00 local time but a heavily rain-affected Formula 1 qualifying session prompted many delays thus having a knock on effect of the rest of the running due to take place.
The race finally started under safety car conditions at 18.20 local time. After six laps under the safety car, the drivers retook to the grid for a standing start.
Another formation lap was required after Santino Ferrucci stalled on the grid, meaning it was to be a 23 lap race.
When the laps finally went out, the field gingerly left their grid slots with poleman Matsushita slower than those around. The weather meant it was chaotic for many of the drivers heading into Turn 1 as: Nyck de Vries cut across the track, Matsushita made contact with Artem Markelov and Ghiotto was squeezed by Alexander Albon and Roberto Merhi.
Championship leader Charles Leclerc suffered the worst qualifying of his F2 career thus far, starting the race down in seventh place. The Monegasque driver quickly progressed up to third place, on the tail of Matsushita attempting to make a move at the end of the back straight but almost lost his car. Leclerc was able to collect himself to run alongside the ART Grand Prix driver through the Parabolica to run in second place.
Louis Deletraz had had a fine start to be running in fourth place but a fierce battle was brewing behind him between Merhi and Oliver Rowland with the Racing Engineering driver soon losing out to the duo.
Rowland elevated himself to a podium paying position by out dragging Matsushita at the Curva Grande with eventual race winner Ghiotto following through a few corners later.
Out front Leclerc had much better pace than De Vries but was unable to find a way by the Dutchman, despite clearly being faster.
As lap 16 ticked down, Fuoco joined those battling for the top six positions – as drivers started jumping into the pits for a fresh set of rubber.
Of the leading six Matsushita was the first to come in, one lap after of Leclerc – who was followed by De Vries, Rowland, Ghiotto and Fuoco. Racing Engineering served De Vries an almighty stop to make sure he maintained his lead over Leclerc.
Rowland emerged from the pits in third but the left rear came loose at the second chicane and the Briton had to limp back to the pits to retire but had to park up at the side of the track.
This brought out the safety car with four laps remaining. Racing resumed on lap 22 with Leclerc getting a good run on De Vries but ran too deep and had to take to the escape road as Ghiotto snuck past the Dutchman before De Vries used the tow to run inside at the Parabolica and reclaim the lead going into the final lap.
The trio ran close together, with Ghiotto missing the chicane whilst contact was made between De Vries and Leclerc resulting in a puncture for the Dutchman and the Monegasque driver to limp to the finish.
At the chequered flag Ghiotto claimed a home victory with Fuoco second and Matsushita third.
However, following the race the stewards deemed that Ghiotto had gained an advantage when he ran off track whilst battling De Vries and Leclerc and was handed a five-second penalty as result. This means the Italian is in fact classified in fourth place handing victory to his countryman Fuoco.
Sean Gelael is now fifth ahead of Sergio Sette Camara, Louis Deletraz, Gustav Malja, Artem Markelov and Jordan King.
Alexander Albon had been classified in P5 but was given a time penalty after the stewards judged him to have caused a collision with Norman Nato on the final lap. The Thai driver had 10 seconds added to his classified time meaning he drops to 14th.
De Vries too was handed a penalty after the stewards deemed him to have caused the collision which ended both his and Leclerc’s races on the final lap. The Dutchman who did not make the finish was handed a drive through penalty which was converted into a 20 seconds time penalty.
Malja will line up tomorrow’s 21 lap Sprint Race from reverse grid pole position, which gets underway at 10.15 local time.
2017 Formula 2 Feature Race Results – Monza
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