Oliver Rowland claimed Formula 2 victory at the Yas Marina Circuit.
The Briton made his strategy work to overtake poleman Artem Markelov after the pitstop phase to cruise to victory ahead of the Russian and Antonio Fuoco who passed team-mate Charles Leclerc on the line to claim the podium finish.
Before the race got underway the question was what way drivers would go on strategy with many leaving it to the final second to decide.
Rowland and Markelov started on the supersoft tyres, as did much of the grid. After a difficult qualifying session Leclerc opted for the reverse strategy by starting on the soft tyres.
When the race got underway Markelov made a strong start ahead of Nyck de Vries, Rowland, Norman Nato, Nobuharu Matsushita and Luca Ghiotto. Behind newly crowned champion Leclerc had gotten ahead of his team-mate Fuoco who had made a poor getaway from third on the grid.
The supersoft runners soon found their pace fading as they tried to preserve their tyre life as much as possible.
Markelov came in on lap 7, followed by Rowland, Fuoco, Matsushita and Jordan King leaving the supersoft runners leading the way with de Vries fending off Leclerc.
Further back, Rowland and Markelov were on a charge as they sliced their way through the field. The Russian was closing the gap to Rowland but was unable to close the gap.
On lap 24, Leclerc and de Vries came into serve their mandatory pit stops. The Monegasque driver lost time due to a slow stop, emerging in fifth which became third when Sergio Sette Camara and Alexander Albon pitted.
The champion was soon eating into the advantage Markelov held over him but with only a few laps remaining to catch and pass would ultimately end up being in vain.
With three laps remaining, Leclerc dramatically dropped off the pace allowing Markelov to cruise to second place behind Rowland who took the win by over six and a half seconds.
It looked as though Leclerc had secured third place when he slowed dramatically through the final sector which allowed team-mate Fuoco the opportunity to sail by to take the last podium spot with the pair separated by just 0.017 seconds.
Behind Leclerc the top ten was complete by Ghiotto, de Vries, Nicholas Latifi, Matsushita, with Albon and King completing the points.
Eighth place means Matsushita will start tomorrow’s Sprint Race from pole position. The race gets underway at 14.10 local time.
This result means the fight for the Teams’ Championship is on edge with DAMS holding the slimmest of margins over Prema and Russian Time who go into the final race of 2017 on 376, 374 and 373 points respectively.
2017 FIA Formula 2 Feature Race Results – Yas Marina
|2||6||Artem Markelov||RUS||Russian Time||+6.679|
|3||2||Antonio Fuoco||ITA||PREMA Racing||+22.929|
|4||1||Charles Leclerc||MON||PREMA Racing||+22.944|
|5||5||Luca Ghiotto||ITA||Russian Time||+32.117|
|6||3||Nyck de Vries||NED||Racing Engineering||+33.860|
|8||7||Noburharu Matsushita||JPN||ART Grand Prix||+38.653|
|9||8||Alexander Albon||THA||ART Grand Prix||+41.297|
|10||15||Jordan King||GBR||MP Motorsport||+47.318|
|11||14||Sergio Sette Camara||BRA||MP Motorsport||+49.984|
|13||4||Gustav Malja||SWE||Racing Engineering||+67.877|
|14||12||Alex Palou||ESP||Campos Racing||+71.275|
|15||20||Norman Nato||FRA||Pertamina Arden||+78.888|
|17||21||Sean Gelael||INO||Pertamina Arden||+90.474|
|18||19||Roberto Merhi||ESP||Rapax||+1 Lap|
|DNF||11||Lando Norris||GBR||Campos Racing||DNF|