Nyck de Vries secured his first win of the 2019 FIA Formula 2 championship season during Sunday’s Sprint race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with the Dutchman using his Drag Reduction System to good use early on to take the lead away from Anthoine Hubert.
Once in the lead, de Vries was able to stretch his lead, with the ART Grand Prix racer untroubled throughout, with the podium places being completed by Luca Ghiotto and, for the first time in his Formula 2 career, Callum Ilott.
Pole sitter Ilott was slow away from the grid and found himself third entering turn one behind both Hubert and de Vries, both who got superb starts from the second row. However, it was not long before the race was neutralised as Nobuharu Matsushita’s Carlin car caught fire, causing the safety car to be deployed as marshals extinguished the flames.
On the restart, Hubert kept the lead for BWT Arden, but as soon as the Drag Reduction System was available to him, de Vries was able to find a way ahead of the Frenchman and into the lead that he was not to relinquish thereafter.
A few laps later, Hubert was also passed into turn one by Ilott, who was able to draw away from the Frenchman, with the Sauber Junior Team racer enjoying his best outing of his Formula 2 career to date.
After a fighting drive through the field to fourth during Saturday’s Feature race, UNI-Virtuosi Racing’s Ghiotto was at it again in the Sprint race, and despite falling to the lower reaches of the points early on, he was able to recover superbly to run fourth before catching and passing Hubert for the podium spot on lap seventeen.
Ghiotto was not done there, with the Italian catching Ilott quickly before passing the Briton around the outside of turn one in tremendous fashion on the penultimate lap. However, second was as good as it was going to get for him, as time ran out for him making any move for the win.
Ilott held on for his first podium finish, just a day after his first points in Formula 2, while Guanyu Zhou made it another good day for UNI-Virtuosi, the Chinese driver also finding a way ahead of Hubert to claim fourth.
Hubert did manage to hang on to fifth despite late race pressure from current championship leader Nicholas Latifi, with the Canadian DAMS driver climbing from ninth at mid-distance to sixth at the chequered flag as he found a way ahead of Sean Gelael, Jordan King and Jack Aitken.
King took seventh for MP Motorsport despite starting on the front row, the pace of his car not as he would have liked it to be, while the final point went the way of Campos Racing’s Aitken, despite him finishing ninth on the road.
This is because Mick Schumacher, who did finish eighth on the road, was handed a five-second time penalty by the stewards for not returning to the track in a safe manner at turn one. Drivers were warned ahead of the weekend that should they go off at turn one, they must stay left of a bollard before returning to the track, something the Prema Racing driver ignored, and as a result he was penalised five seconds that dropped him down to twelfth in the final result.
Schumacher had earlier in the race came close to colliding with his Prema team-mate Gelael as the two battled for ninth place, the German sliding up the inside of his Indonesian team-mate into turn eleven after they nearly clashed at turn ten.
Gelael missed out on points in ninth, as did tenth-placed Ralph Boschung of Trident, while Louis Delétraz’s disappointing weekend continued in eleventh for Carlin, although he did end up ahead of the penalised Schumacher.
Tatiana Calderon ran inside the top ten early on after a good start from the Colombian, but the only female racer on the grid ended the race down in thirteenth for BWT Arden, although she did manage to finish ahead of ART Grand Prix’s Nikita Mazepin and Sauber Junior Team’s Juan Manuel Correa.
Sergio Sette Camara finished the race fifteenth but the DAMS racer’s poor weekend saw him earn a five-second penalty for the same offence as Schumacher, meaning he fell behind Correa and Trident’s Giuliano Alesi, who finished the race down in sixteenth. The final two finishes were Campos Racing’s Dorian Boccolacci and MP Motorsport’s Mahaveer Raghunathan.
Latifi leaves Spain with a twenty-six point advantage in the championship standings heading to the next round in Monaco, with Ghiotto’s charges through the field ensuring he sits second in the standings, just ahead of de Vries and Aitken.
DAMS head the Teams’ Championship on 126 points, twenty-five ahead of UNI-Virtuosi Racing, with Campos Racing third.
Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya Sprint Race Result
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