Nyck de Vries Takes F2 Championship Lead After Paul Ricard Feature Race Win

by Aaron Gillard
de Vries - ART - France Win

ART Grand Prix‘s Nyck de Vries claims his third win of the 2019 FIA Formula 2 season and the championship lead after a dominating performance in a dramatic Feature race at the Circuit Paul Ricard.

The Dutch driver took the lead of the race at the beginning of the race, starting in fourth place and entered Turn 1 in front. He remained in the lead throughout the race after his pit stop, leading to de Vries snatching the championship lead away from Nicholas Latifi. de Vries also clinched the fastest lap, setting it on the last lap of the race and claiming two more points.

DAMS driver and pole sitter Sérgio Sette Câmara finished in second, passing Campos Racing‘s Jack Aitken on the penultimate lap of the Feature race. Aitken challenged de Vries for the initial lead of the race after the Dutch driver made his pit stop. UNI-Virtuosi Racing‘s Guanyu Zhou followed behind the top three with fourth place.

The race started with de Vries getting a dream start by going from fourth to first at the start, passing pole sitter Sette Câmara, Zhou and Aitken around the outside at Turn 1. Aitken managed to take second place ahead of Sette Câmara and Zhou, with Callum Ilott holding onto fifth place at the start.

The two Prema cars ended their race at Turn 3 after Sean Gelael carried too much speed into the corner, resulting in the Indonesian driver launching over the kerb, into the path of his team-mate Mick Schumacher, resulting in a puncture for the German driver.

Nikita Mazepin and Ralph Boschung collected each other at Turn 4, switch sent both cars out of the race and deploying the Virtual Safety Car. Schumacher managed to return to the pits, but the damage was too severe and retired from the race as a result. Dorian Boccolacci stopped on track during the VSC, which put him out of the race as five drivers retired in the opening laps. The red flag was brought out, bringing a halt to the race on Lap 3.

After a long wait during the red flag, the race restarted behind the safety car with de Vries leading away the train of cars. The Dutch driver restarted the race in the lead on Lap 5, pulling away from the likes of Aitken, Sette Camara, Zhou and Ilott.

Three laps after the restart, the pit stop window opened with Aitken, Sette Câmara, Nobuharu Matsushita and Tatiana Calderón jumping into the pits, becoming the first drivers to stop.

Race leader de Vries pitted a lap later and at the pit exit, the Dutch driver lost the initial race lead to Aitken. The Campos driver got ahead of de Vries, who waited until the first DRS zone at the Mistral straight to attack, passing the Campos driver at Turn 8 and taking back the initial lead of the race. Luca Ghiotto on the alternative strategy controlled the lead of the race.

Latifi engaged in a battle with Matsushita, but was forced to take the escape road at Turn 8. The Canadian missing the chicane allowed Ilott to close up to the DAMS car, eventually passing him down at the chicane on Lap 12.

The British driver started to gain on Matsushita, eventually leading to the two dueling in an epic battle throughout Lap 14. But their duel ended when Ilott collided with the rear of the Carlin, sending him in a spin and retiring from the race. A second VSC was called out as a result.

After the VSC ended, Ghiotto controlled the lead of the race ahead of Juan Manuel Correa, Jordan King and Anthoine Hubert, with all four drivers yet to take their mandatory pit stop. Louis Delétraz started to fall down the field with a mechanical issue, leading him to become the seventh retirement of the Feature race.

With ten laps to go, Hubert becomes the first driver using the alternative strategy to pit, switching to the soft tyres but a slow stop from the Arden mechanics hindered his position and left him down to eleventh place.

Race leader Ghiotto pitted in for the soft rubber, coming out ahead of team-mate Zhou in fifth place, but the Chinese rookie driver carried more momentum in the first sector and passing him around the outside of the Turn 3 and 4 chicane.

Latifi managed to take advantage of Ghiotto struggling to get the soft tyres up to temperature and attempted to pass the Virtuosi car. Ghiotto defended heavily against the Canadian, forcing Latifi to go off the circuit in the run towards Turn 1. Eventually, Latifi captured the position after the Italian went off the circuit at Turn 11.

King, who was last of the alternative strategy runners, made his stop and came out ahead of the struggling Ghiotto, who was reporting to have steering issues. His race came to abrupt end on Lap 25 when Correa passed Ghiotto at Turn 6, but tagged his front right wheel and damaging the Virtuosi’s suspension. A third VSC was placed as the marshals remove Ghiotto’s car.

At the start of the penultimate lap, Sette Camara managed to chase down Aitken for second place, passing the Anglo-Korean driver with DRS in the run towards Turn 1 for second place. Matsushita lost eighth place and reverse grid pole to Hubert at Turn 5, after taking avoiding action and launching over the sausage kerb.

de Vries with a strong gap to second place captured the win, his third in the last four races, as well as the fastest lap on the last lap and the championship lead. Sette Camara and Jack Aitken round off the podium places, with Zhou and Latifi rounding off the top five places.

King and Correa performed well with the alternative strategy to take sixth and seventh place. French driver Hubert secured reverse grid pole for the Sprint race and eighth place. Matsushita ended the race in ninth, with Trident‘s Giuliano Alesi turning a pit lane start into his first points of the F2 season with tenth. Calderón and Mahaveer Raghunathan rounded off the last classified finishers as eight cars retired from the Feature race.

PositionCar NumberTeamDriverNATTime
15ART Grand PrixNyck de VriesNED1:15:35.425
27DAMSSergio Sette CamaraBRZ+8.388
315Campos RacingJack AitkenGBR+9.775
44UNI-Virtuosi RacingGuanyu ZhouCHI+20.153
511DAMSNicholas LatifiCAN+22.599
66MP MotorsportJordan KingGBR+24.131
72Sauber Junior Team by CharouzJuan Manuel CorreaUSA+28.668
89BWT ArdenAnthoine HubertFRA+29.959
914Carlin MotorsportNobuharu MatsushitaJPB+32.820
1010TridentGiuliano AlesiITA+39.757
1118BWT ArdenTatiana CalderonCOL+69.371
1217MP MotorsportMahaveer RaghunathanNED1 Lap
DNF8UNI-Virtuosi RacingLuca GhiottoITALap 25/Crash
DNF1TridentLouis DeletrazCHELap 17/Mechanical
DNF11Sauber Junior Team by CharouzCallum IlottGBRLap 14/Crash
DNF14Campos RacingDorian BoccolacciFRALap 1/Mechanical
DNF9Prema RacingMick SchumacherGERLap 1/Damage
DNF3ART Grand PrixNikita MazepinRUSLap 0/Crash
DNF21TridentRalph BoschungCHELap 0/Crash
DNF10Prema RacingSean GelaelINOLap 0/Crash

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