Baku F2: Leclerc wins as race ends with track blockage

Ferrari Formula 1 junior driver Charles Leclerc won a hectic Formula 2 feature race in Baku that ended under red flags in the pitlane.

Baku F2: Leclerc wins as race ends with track blockage
Podium: race winner Charles Leclerc, PREMA Powerteam, second place Nyck De Vries, Rapax, third place Nicholas Latifi, DAMS
Nicholas Latifi, DAMS
Charles Leclerc, PREMA Powerteam
Nicholas Latifi, DAMS
Nyck De Vries, Rapax
Norman Nato, Pertamina Arden
Oliver Rowland, DAMS, Sergio Canamasas, Trident, Charles Leclerc, PREMA Powerteam

A late pile up as a result of Arden’s Sean Gelael crashing at Turn 8 caused the suspension and confirmed Leclerc’s victory over Rapax driver Nyck de Vries.

Nicholas Latifi completed the podium ahead of his DAMS teammate Oliver Rowland.

At the start of the 29-lap race, Leclerc made a perfect getaway from pole while his fellow front row starter Nobuharu Matsushita dropped to fifth.

Leclerc eased away from Latifi and de Vries but the race was disrupted when Johnny Cecotto – who had stalled from his seventh-place grid spot – slid into the wall at Turn 2 after finally getting going from the pitlane.

Leclerc led the field safely back to racing speeds as he dropped Latifi at the restart, where the DAMS driver was passed by de Vries for second place.

While de Vries could not keep up with Leclerc, he quickly gapped Latifi, as the pack largely held station for the rest of the first stint.

Antonio Fuoco became the first of the lead runners to pit on Lap 6, but got involved in a battle with Sergio Canamasas that ended when he climbed over the back of the Trident driver’s rear wheels and shot into retirement down the Turn 4 escape road.

Leclerc pitted on Lap 7, but had to brake quickly as he left the pitbox due to the fast arrival of Matsushita.

That delay handed de Vries some time and he was closer to Leclerc when he rejoined after his own stop.

The race was briefly interrupted for a second time when Nabil Jeffri crashed out at Turn 7, but his car was swiftly recovered under the virtual safety car.

A second full safety car – called into action when Louis Deletraz smashed into the wall at Turn 2 – again reduced Leclerc’s advantage but did allow him to close right up to Luca Ghiotto, who was yet to pit and led despite starting last.

When the race restarted, Leclerc did not risk an aggressive pass, which allowed de Vries to make it a tight three-car scrap for the lead.

But Ghiotto eventually pulled into the pits and it looked as if the race would conclude without further drama.

While the leaders had no more issues, a big fight between Gelael, Sergey Sirotkin, Gustav Malja and Matsushita – who had dropped down the order after a botched move on Ralph Boschung – ended when the Arden driver hit the wall and left the cars behind him nowhere to go.

The wreckage blocked the track and while a third safety car was initially deployed, the red flags were eventually shown.

With the result taken on Lap 24 – one before the pile-up – Artem Markelov finished fifth ahead of Norman Nato, Jordan King and Ralph Boschung, who had retired down the Turn 2 escape road moments before Gelael’s crash.

Canamasas was classified in ninth, with Sirotkin rounding out the top 10.

Feature race results

Pos. Driver  Entrant  Time/Gap
1  Charles Leclerc Prema Racing 52'33.196
2  Nyck de Vries Rapax 3.469
3  Nicholas Latifi DAMS 6.390
4  Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 11.694
5  Norman Nato Pertamina Arden 17.074
6  Jordan King MP Motorsport 18.570
7  Oliver Rowland DAMS 19.090
8  Ralph Boschung Campos Racing 21.348
9  Sergio Canamasas Trident 22.870
10  Sergey Sirotkin ART Grand Prix 24.042
11  Gustav Malja Racing Engineering 24.828
12  Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix 25.696
13  Sergio Sette Camara MP Motorsport 29.675
14  Sean Gelael Pertamina Arden 33.101
15  Robert Vișoiu Campos Racing 33.320
16  Luca Ghiotto RUSSIAN TIME 49.207
Ret  Louis Delétraz Racing Engineering  
 Ret  Nabil Jeffri Trident  
 Ret  Antonio Fuoco Prema Racing  
 Ret  Johnny Cecotto Jr. Rapax  
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