Monaco F2: Rowland wins after home heartbreak for Leclerc

Renault Formula 1 development driver Oliver Rowland claimed his first victory in the FIA F2 series in a chaotic Monaco feature race, punctuated by drama for local hero Charles Leclerc.

Monaco F2: Rowland wins after home heartbreak for Leclerc
Oliver Rowland, DAMS
Oliver Rowland, DAMS
Charles Leclerc, PREMA Powerteam
Polesitter Charles Leclerc, PREMA Powerteam
Artem Markelov, RUSSIAN TIME
Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix
Luca Ghiotto, RUSSIAN TIME
Charles Leclerc, PREMA Powerteam, Jordan King, MP Motorsport
Sergio Canamasas, Trident
Robert Visoiu, Campos Racing
Johnny Cecotto, Rapax
Charles Leclerc, PREMA Powerteam
Norman Nato, Pertamina Arden
Gustav Malja, Racing Engineering
Johnny Cecotto, Rapax
Jordan King, MP Motorsport

Ferrari protege Leclerc looked in control of the race from pole position in the first half of the event, but was shuffled down the order amid safety car confusion, before a suspension issue ended his race.

And Rowland, who had scored four GP2 podiums with MP and three F2 podiums with DAMS before this weekend, was in position to profit from Leclerc's woes for his first win with the Dallara GP2/11.

Leclerc, starting from pole for the third time in his rookie F2 season, had concerns about his clutch ahead of the formation lap, yet it was the other Prema car of Antonio Fuoco that had the bigger problem.

The Italian could not get going at the start, wheeled into the pitlane along with the fellow stalled car of Sean Gelael (Arden), their troubles causing an aborted start.

When the race finally got going, Leclerc suffered wheelspin at the getaway but managed to protect the inside line from ART's Alex Albon, leading into Ste. Devote.

Starting on the prime compound, softs – as did most of his fellow frontrunners – the Monegasque controlled the first stint of the race, maintaining a gap over Albon and Rowland.

But a seventh-lap safety car for the DAMS of Nicholas Latifi threw a spanner in the works, as the Canadian suffered a failure exiting Portier, pulling over at the start of the tunnel as a result.

Several drivers made use of the safety car to pit, among them Albon, gambling on a long final stint on supersofts, and Russian Time's Luca Ghiotto, the lead car of those who have opted for the less-fancied option-prime strategy.

Leclerc, now leading Rowland, upped his pace dramatically to cover off the early-stoppers but, with his gap out front up to seven seconds by lap 20, a safety car appearance changed the race again.

Campos newcomer Robert Visoiu had attempted a late lunge on Racing Engineering's Louis Deletraz at Mirabeau, which ended with both cars facing the barriers.

Leclerc pitted immediately as the safety car was called in and rejoined ahead of Albon and Ghiotto, but Rowland, Russian Time's Artem Markelov and ART's Nobuharu Matsushita managed to gain track position on the Monegasque by coming in a lap later.

Now in fourth, the championship leader then had to pit again for what looked like a loose wheel and subsequently retired for good when the issue couldn't be sorted, with the series announcing his team would be investigated for an unsafe release.

In the final stretch of the race, it was now Rowland and Markelov duelling for victory, but the pair never got particularly close after the restart, as the Brit maintained a gap of around a second and a half.

Markelov did edge marginally closer in the final laps but the Russian, who had won a chaotic VSC-affected feature race in Monaco last year, finished 0.8s off this time around.

Matsushita brought it home in third, 14 seconds off the lead, with Albon finishing fourth from Ghiotto.

Racing Engineering's Gustav Malja held off Rapax duo Nyck de Vries and Johnny Cecotto for sixth, with Cecotto bagging reverse-grid pole for the sprint race – as MP driver Jordan King and Trident's Sergio Canamasas made up the top 10.

Race results:

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About this article

Series FIA F2
Event Monaco
Location Circuit de Monaco
Drivers Oliver Rowland , Charles Leclerc
Teams DAMS
Author Valentin Khorounzhiy
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