Hungary F2: Latifi sees off de Vries to win feature race

Williams Formula 1 junior Nicholas Latifi prevailed in a tricky Hungaroring Formula 2 feature race to eat into the points advantage of championship leader Nyck de Vries.

Hungary F2: Latifi sees off de Vries to win feature race

The key move of the race was done at the start, as polesitter de Vries locked up and ran wide, and Latifi was able to snatch the lead at the exit of the corner.

Latifi then showed incredible longevity on the red-walled soft Pirelli tyres, and even though de Vries attempted the undercut, the Canadian held onto the lead.

The DAMS driver then had a scare when de Vries closed in around 12 laps into the 34-lap race because of traffic. But Latifi passed Juan Manuel Correa at Turn 2, which provided welcome respite, and pulled three seconds clear in the following two laps.

Latifi retook the lead on lap 29 after those on the alternate strategy had pitted, and had nearly seven seconds in hand over de Vries as he held on for his fourth win of 2019.

ART driver de Vries limited the points loss to Latifi with his second-place finish, remaining 28 points clear.

Renault junior Jack Aitken had made a lightning start from seventh to fifth, and then jumped both Mick Schumacher and Luca Ghiotto during the pitstops to take a net third.

Ghiotto (Virtuosi) appeared to close in momentarily after the pitstops, and put the Briton under pressure once more at the end, but Aitken weathered the storm to take the final spot on the podium.

Ghiotto came under attack from charging Carlin driver Nobuharu Matsushita in the closing stages, and Latifi’s DAMS teammate Sergio Sette Camara also joined the train.

Sette Camara passed Matsushita in the final five laps, making the most of the Japanese driver's unsuccessful move on Ghiotto at Turn 1.

A late safety car for Ralph Boschung’s expiring Trident car then froze the order, so that Ghiotto took fourth and headed Sette Camara and Jordan King (MP Motorsport).

But then VSC infringement penalties changed the order as Ghiotto dropped from fourth to sixth, ahead of King, who was also penalised.

King had been charging through the order having run the slower medium tyre early on, and passed Matsushita for sixth just before the safety car.

With the penalties, Sette Camara took fourth ahead of Matsushita, Ghiotto and King.

Schumacher (Prema) had been with Ghiotto and in the battle for a podium mid-race, but slipped back three-quarters into the race seemingly struggling for tyre life.

He was caught napping at the virtual safety car restart on lap 22 of 37 by Matsushita, and finished eighth on the road behind the Japanese driver.

It does mean Ferrari junior Schumacher takes the reverse-grid pole for Sunday’s sprint race.

Rookies Guan Yu Zhou (Virtuosi) and Sauber Junior Team driver Callum Ilott took the final points for ninth and 10th respectively.

UPDATE: The penalties for Ghiotto and King were subsequently rescinded, reinstating the pair in fourth and sixth respectively.

A statement issued by Formula 2 read: “Two penalty decisions have been revised following today’s FIA Formula 2 feature race, with Luca Ghiotto and Jordan King now only receiving written reprimands, instead of time penalties.

“In a post-race hearing, the stewards discussed the incident in detail with the two drivers and examined footage from the MP Motorsport [King’s] car.

“They found the situation to be relatively unique, as four cars had been running in a tight pack in a high-speed area prior to the incident and there was oil on the track from the incident that brought out the safety car.

“The stewards found that it would have been quite difficult, if not almost impossible, to slow down quickly enough without potentially causing a major incident.

“As such, in the interest of fairness, the stewards found the normal five-second penalty to be inappropriate and have removed it.”

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