Nicholas Latifi put in a performance that belied his FIA Formula 2 championship position as he led from start to finish to win the Sprint race at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday morning.
The Canadian has often struggled with the 2018 Dallara F2 2018 chassis since its introduction at the beginning of the season and had only scored one podium finish in the previous seventeen races, which came way back at the Baku Street Circuit at the end of April.
But after taking eighth place in the Feature race on Saturday in Belgium, Latifi controlled the race from the front, with the DAMS racer holding onto the lead into the first corner and thereafter being on his own and out of reach of his rivals. It is his second career Formula 2 victory after the Silverstone Sprint race in 2017.
All the action took place behind the Canadian, with the early charge being led by Luca Ghiotto, but the Italian quickly found himself dispatched by Feature race winner Nyck de Vries, who had already jumped up from eighth on the grid to run third at the first turn as those towards the front of the field had varied starts.
Ghiotto also fell behind Lando Norris, Alexander Albon and Artem Markelov, on lap seven, nine and ten respectively, and the trio all closed up on de Vries over the closing laps. Entering the final lap, de Vries held the advantage as they crossed the line, but on the run down the Kemmel Straight, Norris edged his Carlin machine ahead to finish second, with Albon following the Briton through to claim the third place on the podium, ensuring DAMS had two cars inside the top three.
De Vries did manage to hold off Markelov across the remainder of the lap, with the Russian Time racer well clear of Ghiotto, who was able to resist the challenge from championship leader George Russell for the majority of the race. Russell’s seventh place, coupled with Norris claiming second, means the gap between the championship rivals is just five points heading to the Autodromo Nazionale Monza next week.
The final point went the way of Trident’s Arjun Maini, who made up a number of positions in the final laps, including a last lap move on Sergio Sette Câmara, with the Carlin driver unable to hold onto the position that he had grabbed earlier after a move on Roy Nissany, who ultimately finished fourteenth for Campos Vexatec Racing despite having started quickly to run seventh.
Spa-Francorchamps Sprint Race Result
|4||4||Nyck de Vries||NED||Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing||+13.210|
|5||1||Artem Markelov||RUS||Russian Time||+13.448|
|6||14||Luca Ghiotto||ITA||Campos Vexatec Racing||+22.179|
|7||8||George Russell||GBR||ART Grand Prix||+23.357|
|9||18||Sergio Sette Camara||BRZ||Carlin||+33.578|
|10||7||Jack Aitken||GBR||ART Grand Prix||+34.567|
|11||2||Tadasuke Makino||JAP||Russian Time||+40.032|
|12||10||Ralph Boschung||CHE||MP Motorsport||+40.100|
|13||20||Louis Deletraz||CHE||Charouz Racing System||+42.899|
|14||15||Roy Nissany||ISR||Campos Vexatec Racing||+44.631|
|16||11||Maximilian Gunther||DEU||BWT Arden||+55.305|
|17||12||Nirei Fukuzumi||JAP||BWT Arden||+59.007|
|18||9||Dorian Boccolacci||FRA||MP Motorsport||+1:00.115|
|19||21||Antonio Fuoco||ITA||Charouz Racing System||+1:06.936|
|RET||3||Sean Gelael||INO||Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing||Retired|