ART Grand Prix’s Nobuharu Matsushita has taken his first Formula 2 victory in almost a year in Sunday’s sprint race in Spain. The Japanese driver kept his cool in an assured drive to take the lead from Nicholas Latifi after the Canadian slid out of the lead in the closing stages.
Latifi, who had started from third, made a terrific start to take the lead before the first corner, while Matsushita also made up two places off the grid into third and was following second-place Gustav Malja for almost half the race until he was able to make a move stick and take second.
From there, the ART driver couldn’t quite close the gap to Latifi who was on a commanding lead from the start, until lap 21 when Latifi’s mirror flew off the DAMS and into the Canadian’s head just before breaking into Turn 5, distracting him into a trip to the gravel trap where he lost the lead to Matsushita and was under immediate pressure from his team mate Oliver Rowland, who took second place before the end of the lap, with Latifi’s efforts to regain the place coming futile.
Matsushita, however, was comfortable in the lead to take a much needed victory in Formula 2, the first since his sprint race win in Monaco and his subsequent ban after Baku. Behind him was Oliver Rowland who completed a solid weekend with double podium finishes and Latifi in third.
Charles Leclerc’s impressive drive from 8th on the grid saw him overtake his way to a fourth-place finish, ahead of Jordan King in fifth, while Gustav Malja drifted down the order to finish sixth.
Luca Ghiotto scored points in 7th while Alexander Albon successfully held off Artem Markelov to take the final point of the race, while Markelov’s torrid start from pole left him on the back foot and could only manage ninth, out of the points.
With this result, Charles Leclerc remains in the lead of the drivers’ standings with 73 points, while Oliver Rowland moves up to second with 46 points ahead of Ghiotto with 38.
Formula 2 reconvenes in Monaco in a fortnight’s time, on May 25-27.
Image courtesy of FIA Formula 2 Media