Jack Aitken secured his second career FIA Formula 2 victory and the first ever for Campos Racing as he took the chequered flag first in an incident-packed Feature race at the Baku City Circuit on Saturday.
Aitken started eighth and survived two safety car periods to finish ahead of ART Grand Prix’s Nyck de Vries, while Jordan King completed the podium for MP Motorsport after a late race pass on DAMS’ Nicholas Latifi.
Nobuharu Matsushita had started the race from pole position for Carlin but quickly found himself relegated to second as de Vries swept into the lead into turn one, while behind there was chaos, with Mick Schumacher running hot into the corner and running both himself and pre-race championship leader Luca Ghiotto wide, allowing Aitken up to third.
Further down the pack, the two Trident cars clashed, with Giuliano Alesi retiring on the spot, while Ralph Boschung re-joined the race a lap down after being pushed back into the pits by the marshals.
Alesi’s stricken car ensured the first intervention of the safety car, but de Vries judged the restart to perfection to pull away from Matsushita. The polesitters day however was about to have an even bigger turn for the worst when the Japanese racer slowed just four laps into the race, and although his mechanics was able to re-join the race, he ended at the back of the field a lap off the pace.
It was not long before those drivers who started on the softer of the two Pirelli compounds to pit to switch to the harder compound, with de Vries suffering a slow pit stop at the end of the sixth lap that allowed Aitken to close onto his rear wing, and heading down the back straight, with the aid of the Drag Reduction System, the Anglo-Korean racer took over the de facto race lead, with Latifi also coming through, albeit briefly, into second.
Actually leading at this stage of the race was Tatiana Calderon, with the Colombian racer the only one to start the race on the harder compound, but the pace of the BWT Arden was not that strong, and it wasn’t long before she slipped behind the leading trio of Aitken, de Vries and Latifi.
Schumacher spun out exiting turn sixteen to bring out a brief virtual safety car, before the full safety car was needed again when Guanyu Zhou crashed out at turn one, with the Chinese driver clipping the rear wheel of Juan Manuel Correa and then the outside wall.
As Aitken led the field towards the start-line for the restart, carnage ensued behind, with Sergio Sette Camara and Ghiotto colliding, spinning the Brazilian into the wall and sending the Italian into the pits for a new front wing. Behind, Dorian Boccolacci was also hit from behind by Louis Delétraz, with the latter retiring in the pits with a damaged front wing and wheel.
That restart was waived off but when the race ultimately resumed, now under time restraints rather than lap count due to the length of time behind the safety car, Aitken retained the lead ahead of de Vries, while King found a way ahead of Latifi in a great move around the outside of turn three to secure his first top three finish of the season.
Boccolacci made it a good day for Campos to finish fifth ahead of Ghiotto, who used the softer tyres to good use to make a few overtakes in the final laps, although he is under investigation from the stewards for his part in the clash that pushed Sette Camara into the wall.
Sean Gelael secured seventh for Prema Racing despite starting the race from the back of the grid following his disqualification from Qualifying, while Correa secured eighth and reverse grid pole position for Sunday’s Sprint race. It was also the first points of the season for the Sauber Junior Team.
Nikita Mazepin took ninth, finishing on Correa’s tail, but the Russian will be disappointed to make a mistake that saw him end up in the run off zone around mid-distance. Another driver to make a mistake and lose a number of positions was Anthoine Hubert, with the Frenchman recovering to claim the final point on offer in tenth for BWT Arden, denying pit lane starter Mahaveer Raghunathan the final point with just a couple of laps remaining.
Amid the retirements were both Calderon, who stopped as she approached the pit lane during the second safety car period, and Callum Ilott, who appeared to also have a mechanical issue behind the same safety car.
Baku City Circuit Feature Race Result
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