Jack Aitken survived three Virtual Safety Cars and an actual Safety Car period to win for the first time in FIA Formula 2, with his start seeing him jump from third into first by the opening turn.
The track was still damp in places after the overnight rain that had caused the majority of drivers in the GP3 Series race earlier in the day to start on wet tyres, but everyone began on slicks, with Artem Markelov on pole position.
Starting on the second row, Aitken was able to get the jump on both Markelov and Sergio Sette Câmara into turn one, and the opening couple of laps he was able to pull a big gap on the chasing pack.
The first use of the Virtual Safety car was at the end of the opening lap as, following his podium finish in Saturday’s Feature race, Nyck de Vries’ Sprint race was over after contact with Louis Delétraz at the end of the back straight. However, the Dutchman had already dropped down the order after contact with Markelov at turn four that saw the Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing driver run across the gravel trap.
ART Grand Prix Aitken had more than an eleven second advantage when the race resumed, but this gap was nullified when the actual safety car was deployed as Nirei Fukuzumi clashed with his fellow Honda-protégé Tadasuke Makino at turn four, ending both their afternoons in the tyre wall after a trip across the gravel trap.
Alexander Albon moved up to second after capitalising on a mistake by Sette Câmara at the end of the back straight following the first VSC, which also saw the Brazilian fall behind team-mate Lando Norris and Vexatec Campos Racing’s Luca Ghiotto as he ran briefly off track.
Câmara’s race ended moments after losing fifth place to George Russell at the end of the main straight on the thirteenth lap as the Brazilian’s fire extinguisher went off inside the cockpit. The Carlin driver stopped on track approaching turn four to bring out the virtual safety car for the second time.
Albon was able to maintain second until the chequered flag for DAMS to close the championship lead on Norris to thirteen points, with the second Carlin driver losing time at the end of that second VSC period, although he was able to keep Ghiotto behind him before edging away from the Italian as he gave chase on the second placed runner.
Ghiotto ultimately fell behind Russell, who will be satisfied with his weekend’s work having taken victory in the Feature race on Saturday and finished a fighting fourth on Sunday.
Sean Gelael gave Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing something to cheer about after climbing to sixth, while Antonio Fuoco claimed seventh for Charouz Racing System ahead of DAMS’ Nicholas Latifi.
Markelov’s race was disappointing right from the start, with the Russian Time driver dropping rapidly down the order as he struggled with getting heat into his tyres. Ultimately he fell outside the top eight and even though he managed to find the pace late in the day, he was forced to settle for ninth, finishing right on Latifi’s tail and just ahead of Delétraz, who climbed from the back of the field to tenth.
Despite a third VSC, caused when Ralph Boschung stopped his MP Motorsport at the end of the back straight after suffering a puncture, which was caused by him locking up his tyres heading into turn one and heavily damaging the front left, Aitken was able to close out to take the victory, with the Renault Sport Academy-backed driver became the fifth different winner in the first six races.
Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya Sprint Race Result
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