DAMS‘ Alexander Albon escaped trouble in a dramatic FIA Formula 2 feature race at the Baku City Circuit to capture his first ever win in the series.
A crazy race in the streets of Baku saw multiple incidents take place, including a race defining moment when Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing‘s Nyck de Vries made a late diving move on leader George Russell, which took both cars out of contention for the win.
Albon inherited the lead from the incident after losing it in the pit stops to Russell earlier in the race. The Anglo-Thai driver engaged in a battle with Charouz Racing System‘s Antonio Fouco for the race win. Jack Aitken claimed second place after starting from the pit lane and avoiding the drama. Fouco ended the race in third to claim Charouz’s first podium in only their second weekend in the series.
Carlin Motorsport‘s Sérgio Sette Câmara finished outside of the podium in fourth place ahead of Nicholas Latifi and team-mate Lando Norris, who stalled at the beginning of the race and clawed his way back through the field.
MP Motorsport followed up in seventh and eighth with Ralph Boschung finishing ahead of Roberto Merhi. The Spanish driver will start from pole position in Sunday’s Sprint race.
Before lights out, three drivers have stalled on the grid during the formation lap. Norris, Aitken and Tadasuke Makino were unable to leave the grid and were pushed back into the pits.
A dramatic first lap saw Russell and Albon battling for the lead, with the DAMS driver getting the better over the ART driver. Sean Gelael edged Louis Deletraz into Maximilian Günther heading into the first turn, ending the race for the Swiss driver. Arjun Maini got off to a good start to get himself battling for fifth place with Nyck de Vries.
Later on the same lap, Luca Ghiotto, who was one of the contenders for pole during Friday’s Qualifying session, lost the rear of his car at turn sixteen which saw him crash into the inside wall. The incident from the Campos Vexatec Racing driver brought out the safety car.
With the safety car pulling in on lap five, Albon led ahead of Russell, de Vries, Sette Câmara and Maini. Russell closed up to Albon throughout the lap and made an attack down the long straight leading into turn one but the Anglo-Thai driver held on defensively against Russell.
At the end of lap six, Russell became the first of the leaders to pit from second place. A lap later the majority of the field followed but a slow stop for Albon allowed Russell and de Vries to take the lead of the race. Maini dropped down the field with mechanical issue, a points finish was on the cards for the Indian driver but left the feature race with a retirement.
A brave move by BWT Arden‘s Nirei Fukuzumi around the outside of Sette Câmara and Artem Markelov at turn one placed himself in sixth place.
Norris, Latifi and Boschung were engaging in a battle for ninth place with Latifi overtaking Boschung at turn three whilst defending from a hard-charging Norris. On lap fifteen, Norris finally got passed Boschung at Turn three to secure tenth place and the final point.
Fukuzumi reported to his team in that his tyres were ‘gone’, which saw multiple drivers fly pass the Japanese driver. Latifi passed Fukuzumi with ease to claim eighth place and initial pole for the sprint race
Roy Nissany was performing well in his Campos and had placed himself well within the points positions in only his third Formula 2 start, but a crash at the exit of turn four for the Israeli driver saw his race end and saw the safety car make another appearance with eleven laps to go. It ended a disappointing day for the Spanish team as both cars ended their day early in the barriers.
With nine laps to go on the second safety car restart, Russell led the way into Turn one but had de Vries attacking, the Dutchman making a late move on the ART driver that caused both cars to go into the run-off zone. Russell avoided the Prema but found himself facing a wall but no damage. Albon also ran wide as he avoided the incident, giving Fuoco the lead, with the Italian leading his first ever laps in Formula 2.
After starting from the pit lane, Aitken was in position for a podium finish with only the Carlin of Sette Câmara in his way, and he quickly cleared the Brazilian at Turn one for third place. Markelov’s race then ended spectacularly, with the Russian Time drivers engine expiring in smoke, creating a minor hazard in the final sector.
With five laps to go, Fouco and Albon closely fought for the lead with the DAMS driver passing the Italian into turn one to re-capture the advantage at the front. Soon Aitken also caught up to the Charouz and calmly passed the Italian at turn four on the penultimate lap, with second place ensuring a great result in a fantastic race for the ART Grand Prix driver after stalling at the start and starting from the pit lane.
Thanks to his eighth place finish, Merhi will start on pole for the Sprint race on Sunday, while Russian Time’s Tadasuke Makino and Prema’s Sean Gelael finishing ninth and tenth to conclude the points finishers, while Russell trailed home in twelfth behind Santino Ferrucci.
Baku Street Circuit Feature Race Result
|2||7||Jack Aitken||GBR||ART Grand Prix||1.992|
|3||21||Antonio Fouco||ITA||Charouz Racing System||2.958|
|4||18||Sergio Sette Camara||BRZ||Carlin Motorsport||5.846|
|6||19||Lando Norris||GBR||Carlin Motorsport||7.612|
|7||10||Ralph Boschung||SUI||MP Motorsport||12.698|
|8||9||Roberto Merhi||ESP||MP Motorsport||14.324|
|9||2||Tadasuke Makino||JPN||Russian Time||15.619|
|10||3||Sean Gelael||INO||Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing||20.826|
|12||8||George Russell||GBR||ART Grand Prix||59.009|
|13||12||Nirei Fukuzumi||JPN||BWT Arden||1 Lap|
|14||4||Nyck de Vries||NED||Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing||DNF|
|15||1||Artem Markelov||RUS||Russian Time||DNF|
|16||15||Roy Nissany||ISR||Campos Vexatec Racing||DNF|
|18||11||Maximilian Gunther||GER||BWT Arden||DNF|
|19||14||Luca Ghiotto||ITA||Campos Vexatec Racing||DNF|
|20||20||Louis Deletraz||SUI||Charouz Racing System||DNF|