George Russell capitalised on a mistake by Artem Markelov to claim victory in the Sprint race at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza on Sunday, with the Briton extending his advantage over Lando Norris in the FIA Formula 2 championship standings to twenty-two points.
Polesitter Ralph Boschung and fellow front-row starter Sergio Sette Câmara both suffered slow starts, which allowed Nicholas Latifi and Russell through into first and second before the first corner, while Markelov was immediately at the sharp end of the field despite having started seventh thanks to his second-place finish in Saturday’s Feature race.
Russell attacked Latifi for the lead but fell behind both the Canadian and Markelov after losing momentum after running across the kerbs at the first chicane on the fifth lap, with the following lap seeing the Russian Time racer taking the lead.
It took until the ninth lap before Russell was able to finally dispatch Latifi for second, while two laps later a mistake by Markelov at the first turn allowed the ART Grand Prix driver and current championship leader to snatch the lead, a lead he was never to lose again despite pressure from the Russian and from Sette Câmara, who had also passed Latifi for the final spot on the podium.
Norris fell to eighth at the start but quickly dispatched both Tadasuke Makino and Luca Ghiotto to run sixth, before he capitalised on a slowing Alexander Albon to take fifth. He finished on the tail of Latifi but lost more ground in the championship battle to Russell.
Albon struggled with his gearbox, citing a loss of third gear that caused him to be slow off the corners, and after running fifth in the early stages, he eventually slipped out of the points and finally into retirement, a major blow for his own championship aspirations.
Ghiotto took sixth for Campos Vexatec Racing ahead of Dorian Boccolacci, who took his first two points of his Formula 2 career thanks to a strong drive to seventh for MP Motorsport, while Jack Aitken claimed the final point on offer for ART Grand Prix, with Arjun Maini of Trident and Antonio Fuoco of Charouz Racing System just outside the points in ninth and tenth.
Boschung will be frustrated not to have converted his pole position into any kind of points finish, with the MP Motorsport driver dropping from first to ninth before the first corner, and ultimately he was forced to retire after a collision with Sean Gelael at the Variante della Roggia on the third lap that saw the Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing driver also eliminated.
The second Prema of Nyck de Vries also failed to finish, but his afternoon was compromised before the race even begun when he stalled ahead of the formation lap and was forced to start from the pit lane. He had made his way up to battle for tenth but made contact with Roy Nissany at the second chicane, which caused a puncture and a slow lap to the pits to retire.
Feature race winner Makino saw his chances of a points finish end early when he suffered a big lock-up as he fought with Norris on the opening lap, with the Japanese racer pitting for replacement tyres and falling to the back of the pack as a result of the error.
The series now takes a four-week hiatus before it reconvenes at the Sochi Autodrom at the end of September, with only the Russian weekend and the finale in Abu Dhabi to come to determine the outcome of the championship.
Autodromo Nazionale Monza Sprint Race Result
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