Red Bull Ring F2: Leclerc leads charging Latifi in Race 1

Ferrari Formula 1 junior Charles Leclerc won the Formula 2 feature race in Austria as the Prema Racing and DAMS teams took different strategical approaches that produced an exciting conclusion.

Red Bull Ring F2: Leclerc leads charging Latifi in Race 1
Start: Charles Leclerc, PREMA Powerteam leads
Start: Charles Leclerc, PREMA Powerteam leads
Winner Charles Leclerc, PREMA Powerteam
Charles Leclerc, PREMA Powerteam
Raffaele Marciello, Trident
Nicholas Latifi, DAMS
Charles Leclerc, PREMA Powerteam
Gustav Malja, Racing Engineering

Leclerc, whose Prema team opted to put both its drivers on the soft tyres for a long opening stint, triumphed over DAMS’ Nicholas Latifi, who charged up the order after starting the race on the less durable supersoft rubber.

Antonio Fuoco held on to take his maiden podium finish in F2, with Oliver Rowland just half a second behind him at the chequered flag.

At the start, Leclerc led from pole in front of Fuoco while Rowland fell away from third-place starter Alexander Albon and dropped to sixth behind Latifi and Nobuharu Matsushita.

Rowland was shuffled further down the order by Artem Markelov as the Briton and Latifi got the less sustainable supersoft stint out of the way.

The DAMS pair pitted on laps seven and eight of the 40-lap event as Leclerc and Fuoco began to edge clear of Albon and Matsushita.

Leclerc gradually pulled away from his teammate and cemented his advantage while the stint wore on, while Rowland set about catching and passing Latifi once they switched to the softs.

As the long-running leaders – plus Markelov, Sergio Sette Camara and Raffaele Marciello – eked out the length of their first stint, Rowland and Latifi began setting fastest laps as they made the most of their fresh rubber.

That pace enabled Rowland to move ahead of Fuoco when the Italian rookie pitted for his supersofts with 10 laps remaining, as well as jumping Albon, Matsushita and Markelov.

Leclerc, who had pulled out a comfortable seven-second lead at the head of the pack by the time of his own stop on Lap 31, rejoined in first place without issue.

It looked as if Fuoco would re-establish second from Rowland when he got his super-softs up to temperature and he duly did with a move down the inside of the uphill right-hander of Turn 3 with seven laps remaining.

But the Prema driver could not pull away and he came under severe pressure from Latifi, who had demoted Rowland to fourth on lap 36, and the Canadian seized second down the inside of Turn 1 with two tours remaining.

Rowland then closed in on the struggling Fuoco but ran out of laps to get onto the podium.

Latifi closed in to just 1.3s behind Leclerc at the flag, but the Monegasque driver’s fourth win of 2017 was never seriously threatened.

Albon finished fifth ahead of Matsushita, Ralph Boschung, Markelov and Jordan King, while Sean Gelael rounded out the top 10 for Arden International.

McLaren F1 junior Nyck de Vries recovered to 13th after he failed to move away from his sixth place grid spot for the formation lap.

Sette Camara and Marciello, the two other driver to be on Leclerc's strategy, finished 16th and 19th respectively.

The only non-finisher was Norman Nato, who stopped on the pit straight during the early laps when “something broke” on his car.

Race 1 results

ClaDriverTeamTime/GapInterval
1 monaco Charles Leclerc  italy Prema Powerteam 52'21.629  
2 canada Nicholas Latifi  france DAMS 1.345 1.345
3 italy Antonio Fuoco  italy Prema Powerteam 5.160 3.815
4 united_kingdom Oliver Rowland  france DAMS 5.682 0.522
5 thailand Alexander Albon  france ART Grand Prix 9.846 4.164
6 japan Nobuharu Matsushita  france ART Grand Prix 12.179 2.333
7 switzerland Ralph Boschung  spain Campos Racing 19.400 7.221
8 russia Artem Markelov  russia RUSSIAN TIME 20.385 0.985
9 united_kingdom Jordan King  netherlands MP Motorsport 30.481 10.096
10 indonesia Sean Gelael  united_kingdom Arden International 33.662 3.181
11 romania Robert Visoiu  spain Campos Racing 35.636 1.974
12 sweden Gustav Malja  spain Racing Engineering 36.011 0.375
13 netherlands Nyck de Vries  italy Rapax 44.145 8.134
14 italy Luca Ghiotto  russia RUSSIAN TIME 46.896 2.751
15 spain Sergio Canamasas  italy Rapax 48.883 1.987
16 brazil Sergio Sette Camara  netherlands MP Motorsport 50.940 2.057
17 switzerland Louis Deletraz  spain Racing Engineering 53.423 2.483
18 malaysia Nabil Jeffri  italy Trident 56.881 3.458
19 italy Raffaele Marciello  italy Trident 1 lap 1 lap
DNF  france Norman Nato  united_kingdom Arden International 35 laps 34 laps
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