ART Grand Prix‘s George Russell wins the FIA Formula 2 championship and the Feature race around the Yas Marina Circuit.
The Brit claimed his seventh win of the series in a dramatic race where a huge crash took place during the start of the race between Nicholas Latifi and Arjun Maini. Russell was able to keep ahead of Artem Markelov and Nyck de Vries throughout the race to claim the title, joining Charles Leclerc to win the GP3 Series and Formula 2 in their rookie years.
Russian Time’s Markelov ended the race behind Russell in second place, beating Campos Vexatec Racing‘s Luca Ghiotto in third who led most of the race and produced strong pace on the alternative strategy. But the Italian driver suffered a time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage whilst leading.
Title contender Alexander Albon‘s race suffered a strong blow at the start of the race by stalling on the grid and dropping him down the field. He ended his race down in fourteenth place. de Vries ended behind Ghiotto in fourth place ahead of Lando Norris and Louis Delétraz.
Charous Racing System‘s Antonio Fuoco ended the race in seventh place ahead of Roberto Merhi, who will start Sunday’s Sprint race on reserve grid pole position. Tadasuke Makino grabbed ninth place ahead of Jack Aitken, who rounds off the point scoring positions. Two time Macau Grand Prix winner Dan Ticktum ends his first F2 race in eleventh place with BWT Arden.
The Feature race got underway with de Vries taking the lead of the race ahead of Russell. But a huge crash occurred after Maini crashed into the back of Latifi’s stalled DAMS car.
Albon and Sérgio Sette Câmara stalled on the grid as the accident took place whilst Nirei Fukuzumi retired from the race from the carnage that ensued on the grid. Both Albon and Sette Câmara were able to get back going, but a lap down from the rest of the field whilst the safety car was brought out to clear the damaged cars on the start line.
After multiple laps behind the safety car, with the whole field having to drive through the pit lane to avoid the debris, Albon and Sette Câmara were given permission to unlap themselves and get themselves back on the lead lap. But by lap 6 when the safety car came in, Albon was only around half way through the circuit as de Vries leads the field away from Russell and Markelov.
Aitken in the ART passed Merhi during the restart at Turn 1. Russell gathered speed down the straight, following the slipstream of the Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing car in front, almost making contact with de Vries down at the chicane.
Russell dived into the pits at the end of lap 8, doing the opposite strategy to race leader de Vries. The Brit came out behind Makino in ninth place. de Vries pitted in a lap later whilst Markelov stayed out to take over the lead of the race. The Dutch driver was able to come out ahead of Russell, but de Vries was quickly passed by Russell before the first chicane.
Markelov pits from the lead of the race at the end of lap 10, exiting behind Russell and de Vries. Albon found himself in fifth place but was quickly passed by Norris and Delétraz down the main straight, with Norris passing both cars in the chicane. The three resumed their battle down the straight towards the double chicane, with Norris staying ahead of the Charouz and DAMS car.
Norris was able to close up to Markelov and using the DRS to assault an attack on the Russian driver. The Brit was able to pass Marklov in the braking zone at the double chicane for fourth place. But the Russian stayed close to Norris and made an attack down the main straight with DRS on the long main straight, reclaiming the position from the Brit.
Albon’s race on the soft tyres started to go down hill when Tictkum passed him on Lap 17 to demote him to eleventh place whilst ahead, Fuoco was able to go pass Aitken for eighth place, but the Anglo-Korean driver managed to hold his position at the double chicane despite struggling on his tyres. The Italian soon found his way pass a lap later as the heavy graining on the soft tyres started to affect his pace.
Having not pitted in, initial race leader Ghiotto started to produce strong times, pulling the gap from Russell to over 24 seconds, showing that tyres that he started on started to produce consistent times compare to those who pitted in during the race. However, the Italian soon handed a five second time penalty for cutting Turn 9 and deemed to have gained an advantage.
Albon made his pit stop with nine minutes of the race remaining, pushing him down to sixteenth place and out of championship contention. The Thai-Anglo driver soon caught up with Niko Kari in fifteenth, passing him for fifteenth place.
Markelov managed to storm his way pass de Vries for third place with the help of DRS down the straight towards the double chicane, passing the Dutchman around the outside and soon set sights on chasing down Russell. The Russian soon caught him and looked at passing him at the double chicane but well defending by Russell held the Russian back.
Ghiotto eventually pitted and served his time penalty, switching to the supersoft tyres and handing the lead back to Russell. The Italian in the Campos managed to get back out on track behind Norris in fifth place. Ghiotto used the advantage of the supersoft tyres and found a way pass Norris for fourth place with a minute left of the race remaining. He soon found his way onto the podium by passing de Vries for third place.
But Russell was able to keep his cool and claim the win and the F2 championship along with it. Markelov starts his final feature race in the series in second place whilst Ghiotto was able to recover in the final minutes to third place.
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