Nobuharu Matsushita Ends Carlin’s F2 Winless Streak With Austria Feature Race Victory

by Aaron Gillard
Matsushita - Carlin - Podium

Honda Junior driver Nobuharu Matsushita managed his tyres the best during a hot FIA Formula 2 Feature race at the Red Bull Ring, claiming victory and ending Carlin‘s winless streak that spanned over a year.

The Japanese driver turned a fourth place qualifying result into his first F2 win of the season by managing after his tyres throughout the race and surged a late attack on ART Grand Prix‘s Nyck de Vries for the lead of the race, who struggled with his Pirelli tyres at the end of the race. Matsushita’s victory marks his first win in the series since the Sprint race at the Hungaroring in 2017, and Carlin’s first win in F2 since Lando Norris‘ only victory in the series in the 2018 Bahrain Feature race.

UNI-Virtuosi Racing‘s Luca Ghiotto ended his pointless streak with second place, finishing ahead of F2 championship leader de Vries, who managed to hold onto the podium spot after losing the win to Matsushita with six laps to go and surviving late assaults from Anthoine Hubert and Sérgio Sette Câmara

Prior to the beginning of the race, Mick Schumacher stalled his car on the grid during the formation lap. The German was pushed back into the pits for the start, but didn’t get going when the lights went out and was a lap down when he eventually left his pit box.

de Vries got off the line with Hubert following behind the pole sitter in the race towards Turn 1. The Dutchman remained in front on the opening lap as the Renault Junior drivers of Hubert and Guanyu Zhou dueled with one another in the race towards Turn 3, only for Zhou to run off the track and lose third to Carlin’s Matsushita.

Matsushita managed to pass Hubert for second place, leaving the Frenchman down to third and once again, find himself fighting with Zhou. The two battled for third in a closely fought battle, seeing both cars race side-by-side throughout Lap 3, with the Chinese driver winning the fight by passing Hubert in the run towards Turn 3.

The two DAMS cars made contact with each other at Turn 3, which sent Nicholas Latifi spinning down to fifteenth place. Sette Câmara tapped his nose onto the rear of the Canadian driver at the corner, which sent Latifi spinning round. The Brazilian was handed a time penalty for causing an avoidable accident.

Race leader de Vries dived into the pits first alongside the likes of Matsushita, Hubert and Zhou at the end of Lap 6, handing the lead to Ghiotto. The Italian made his stop a lap later and managed to get ahead of both Hubert and Zhou. Hubert on lap older tyres attempted to pass Ghiotto but failed as the Italian defended hard. Behind them, Zhou suffered a gearbox glitch which saw the Virtuosi driver lose several places, dropping down in fifteenth place.

de Vries, who was the leading driver who have made their stops started to catch the drivers who were on the alternative strategy, passing Ryan Tveter, Patricio O’Ward and Tatiana Calderón for fourth place. Matsushita behind de Vries struggled to find his way past Tveter in the Trident, trying to find his way past for three laps. But on Lap 19, the Japanese driver passed the American for seventh on the inside of Turn 3.

Initial race leader Sean Gelael was at the front and leading the way with the alternative strategy. But the Indonesian driver began to struggle with his tyres, allowing the ART of Nikita Mazepin in second place to close up and attack for the lead of the race. The Russian made the move on the inside of Turn 3 to take the lead of the race and have a clear track ahead of him.

de Vries eventually made his way up to the podium spots, passing Gelael and Arjun Maini for second place. Gelael began losing pace and positions, forcing him to make his stop early on Lap 25. But a slow stop by Prema caused more headaches for the Indonesian driver, which put him down nineteenth place ahead of team-mate Schumacher, who was a lap down.

With ten laps to go, Matsushita began to eat away the gap to de Vries in second place, clawing away over half a second a lap to the ART driver, whose tyres started to fade away in the final quarter stage. Ghiotto behind closed in on the Japanese driver as both cars began chasing down de Vries.

The Dutch driver soon caught up with team-mate and race leader Mazepin, who still needed to make his stop. Mazepin yielded the lead of the race to his team-mate, but the Russian was soon passed by both Matsushita and Ghiotto, allowing them to attack de Vries.

Matsushita managed to get the gap down to less than a second and at the beginning of Lap 35, the Japanese driver passed de Vries at Turn 1 for the lead of the race. Ghiotto soon joined the Carlin in passing the ART car for second as de Vries started to lose time with his degrading tyres.

On the penultimate of the Feature race, Sette Câmara was given the hurry up by his DAMS team to pass Hubert for fourth place, with his five second time penalty still to be added at the end of the race. The Brazilian made his way through at Turn 3 and began hunting for third place de Vries on the final, passing the Dutchman at Turn 1. But Sérgio Sette Câmara couldn’t build enough of the gap to hold his podium spot with the time penalty, ending the race in fifth. de Vries, despite a difficult day makes a trip to the podium.

Matsushita managed his tyres throughout the whole race and claimed his first F2 win of the season and Carlin’s first since Lando Norris’ win at the 2018 F2 season opener in Bahrain. Ghiotto followed behind in second place ahead of championship leader de Vries. Hubert and Sette Câmara lost out on the podium spots whilst Zhou recovered well after his gearbox issue to end the race in sixth.

Louis Delétraz ended in seventh place ahead of MP Motorsport‘s Jordan King, who grabs reverse grid pole for the Sprint race on Sunday. Latifi after his spin managed to come home with a points finish with ninth place ahead of Jack Aitken, who rounded off the top ten.

PositionCar NumberTeamDriverNATTime
12Carlin MotorsportNobuharu MatsushitaJPN53:32.606
28UNI-Virtuosi RacingLuca GhiottoITA+2.963
34ART Grand PrixNyck de VriesNED+10.428
419BWT ArdenAnthoine HubertFRA+10.786
55DAMSSergio Sette CamaraBRZ+12.720
67UNI-Virtuosi RacingGuanyu ZhouCHI+15.514
71Carlin MotorsportLouis DeletrazCHE+16.541
816MP MotorsportJordan KingGBR+22.321
96DAMSNicholas LatifiCAN+23.184
1015Campos RacingJack AitkenGBR+32.919
1112Sauber Junior Team by CharouzJuan Manuel CorreaUSA+35.892
123ART Grand PrixNikita MazepinRUS+35.988
1320TridentGiuliano AlesiFRA+39.890
1411Sauber Junior Team by CharouzCallum IlottGBR+46.138
1514Campos RacingArjun MainiIND+49.454
1621TridentRyan TveterUSA+70.057
1710Prema RacingSean GelaelINO+75.742
1818BWT ArdenTatiana CalderonCOL+76.586
199Prema RacingMick SchumacherGER+1 Lap
2017MP MotorsportPatricio O'WardUSA+1 Lap

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