Baku F2: Nato wins as penalty thwarts charging Leclerc

Arden's Norman Nato won a breathless Formula 2 sprint race in Baku after on-the-road victor Charles Leclerc dropped to second with a 10-second time penalty.

Baku F2: Nato wins as penalty thwarts charging Leclerc

Nato – who led for most of the race after a gearbox problem eliminated early leader Oliver Rowland – took his first victory of 2017 despite being passed by championship leader Leclerc, who was given a penalty for failing to slow for yellow flags.

DAMS driver Nicholas Latifi completed the podium as he finished over 10 seconds behind the battle for the lead.

At the start of the 21-lap race, Rowland attacked polesitter Ralph Boschung on the run to Turn 1 but the Campos Racing driver defended hard against the pitwall.

The tighter line meant Boschung went wide at the exit of the first corner, which gave Rowland the chance to dive up the inside for the left-hand Turn 2 and the Briton grabbed the lead under braking.

Rowland began to edge clear and Boschung came under attack from Nato, who lost his right front wing end plate against the rear of the Swiss driver's car as he went by on lap three.

Nato then started to home in on Rowland while Leclerc, who started down in eighth place after winning yesterday's feature race, began to pressure a gaggle of cars including Artem Markelov, Sergey Sirotkin and Jordan King.

Rowland's race ended suddenly when he encountered gearbox issues at the start of lap eight, which allowed Nato to move into the lead.

At the same time, Leclerc finally began to make progress as he blasted past Markelov using DRS on the pit straight and defended hard when the Russian Time driver hit back.

The Ferrari Formula 1 junior driver moved up two places in a thrilling move as he and Sirotkin used their DRS advantage to sweep either side of Boschung heading into Turn 1 on lap 10, and Leclerc dispatched the ART Grand Prix driver around the outside of the left-hander.

Leclerc was 10 seconds off the lead as he went past King with a familiar DRS blast on the main straight and he quickly closed in on Latifi, who was running second after Rapax's Nyck de Vries – who been demonstrating his own speed to charge up to second – retired down the Turn 3 escape road.

Prema Racing driver Leclerc eased past Latifi and then set fastest lap after fastest lap to chase down Nato for the lead.

But just as he was catching the French driver it was announced he was under investigation for failing to slow for yellow flags – the same offence that led to four drivers, including a frustrated Rowland, getting penalties in the feature race.

Leclerc moved into the lead on lap 18 but just a few moments later his penalty was confirmed and his chances of emulating Antonio Giovinazzi's double win in Baku for Prema in 2016 disappeared.

King finished fourth ahead of Sirotkin, Markelov, Nobuharu Matsushita, Luca Ghiotto, and Boschung.

Sergio Sette Camara rounded out the top 10 for MP Motorsport.

shares
comments
Renault F1 protege Rowland hits out at “ridiculous” penalty
Previous article

Renault F1 protege Rowland hits out at “ridiculous” penalty

Next article

Leclerc wants "not fair" yellow flag penalty rule changed

Leclerc wants "not fair" yellow flag penalty rule changed
Load comments
What next for "too politically incorrect" for F1 Ticktum? Prime

What next for "too politically incorrect" for F1 Ticktum?

Having by his own admission "blown my chances" of reaching Formula 1, Dan Ticktum is facing an uncertain future. A driver of unquestioned ability who has at times been his own worst enemy, can he apply his lessons and rebuild his career hopes?

FIA F2
Sep 30, 2021
How Piastri could be forced to spend 2022 on the bench Prime

How Piastri could be forced to spend 2022 on the bench

Tipped as the next big thing after winning the FIA Formula 3 championship in his rookie season, Oscar Piastri has taken Formula 2 by storm and looks set to clinch that title too. But with no Formula 1 seat available to him for next year, the Alpine junior may have to wait for his time in the spotlight…

FIA F2
Sep 24, 2021
How Campos Racing has bounced back from its devastating loss Prime

How Campos Racing has bounced back from its devastating loss

After the sudden death of its founder in January, Formula 2 stalwart Campos Racing was left facing its hardest season to date. But new team boss Adrian Jr is determined to honour his father’s legacy and has returned the team to its winning ways

FIA F2
Sep 20, 2021
How F2 and F3's flawed format changes could prove shortlived Prime

How F2 and F3's flawed format changes could prove shortlived

After a chaotic 2020, marred by the coronavirus pandemic, the FIA brought in radical changes to Formula 2 and 3. But less than 12 months later, there are talks of them being reversed after all did not go to plan…

FIA F2
Sep 9, 2021
The Red Bull F1 junior aiming to defy geographical odds Prime

The Red Bull F1 junior aiming to defy geographical odds

It's a long way from Pukekohe New Zealand to Milton Keynes, but Red Bull's Kiwi protege Liam Lawson has defied plenty of odds to reach the rung below F1. He's endured disappointment since winning on his F2 debut in Bahrain, but is determined to turn his season around and prove himself worthy of a place on the F1 grid

FIA F2
Jul 27, 2021
How Red Bull's next F1 hopeful turned around his season Prime

How Red Bull's next F1 hopeful turned around his season

Having impressed in Formula 3, Juri Vips looked to be next cab off the rank in Red Bull's prestigious Junior Team before his 2020 schedule was dealt a heavy blow by the COVID-19 pandemic. After a tough start to life in Formula 2, Vips is showing signs of a recovery - could he be the first Estonian to reach Formula 1?

FIA F2
Jun 14, 2021
How F1 hopeful Pourchaire is re-writing the F2 record books Prime

How F1 hopeful Pourchaire is re-writing the F2 record books

He'd marked himself out as a star of the future in last year's FIA Formula 3 championship, but 17-year-old Theo Pourchaire underlined his credentials by winning his first Formula 2 race in the Monaco feature. Sauber junior status gives him a clear route to the top, but with wisdom beyond his years, he's not getting caught up in his own hype.

FIA F2
Jun 3, 2021
The F1 hopeful living two lives to keep his dream alive Prime

The F1 hopeful living two lives to keep his dream alive

Having lost his backing from Red Bull, Richard Verschoor has had to graft to continue his ascent up the single-seater ladder. An impressive Formula 2 debut in Bahrain, despite the lateness of his deal, shows his unorthodox approach is paying dividends.

FIA F2
Apr 22, 2021