Oliver Rowland took his maiden Formula 2 win in Saturday’s dramatic feature race in Monaco. The Briton took advantage of a Safety Car period and from technical issue encountered by local hero Charles Leclerc to take victory and cut Leclerc’s title lead to just three points.

Amid concerns over his clutch, Leclerc had a scruffy getaway from pole position but held fended off a better start by Alexander Albon to hold the lead in Sainte Devote. From there he built a gap to second-placed Albon as the pair exchanged fastest laps until Nicholas Latifi retired his car in the tunnel and brought out the Safety Car.

Albon quickly reacted by pitting for the Super Soft compound tyre, emerging in seventh while Leclerc opted to stay out. Now having to build a gap to Albon who was on the faster compound, Leclerc was on a mission, quickly pulling six seconds clear of Rowland and setting blistering lap times, before series returnee Robert Vișoiu and Louis Delétraz collided going into Mirabeau, ushering another Safety Car period.

PREMA was forced to react this time and pitted Leclerc just before the safety car procedure slowed the cars down, but his gap to Rowland was insufficient and he emerged in fourth behind Rowland, Artem Markelov and Nobuhara Matsushita, who had all pitted under Safety Car conditions and emerged ahead of the Monegasque driver.

To make matters worse for Leclerc, a suspension failure meant he was forced to stop for repairs and to retire a lap later. This meant that Rowland’s lead was only challenged by Markelov in second and after the Safety Car was pulled in, Rowland had to keep the Russian behind.

Markelov was unable to make a move, crossing the line just eight-tenths of a second behind an ecstatic Rowland, who managed to counter his traditional poor luck to a maiden victory at the season’s highest-profile race.

Matsushita’s calm and cunning drive carried him to a podium finish in third, ahead of Alexander Albon in fourth as the Thai’s strategy was compromised by the second safety car period.

Luca Ghiotto made use of a converse Super Soft/Soft strategy and a number of brazen overtaking moves to climb up to fifth, ahead of Gustav Malja in sixth, Nyck de Vries in seventh and Johnny Cecotto Jr. who will start Saturday’s Sprint Race from reversed-grid pole after finishing eighth.

Jordan King and Sergio Canamasas rounded up the top ten while PREMA is under investigation for release Leclerc’s car from the pits in an unsafe condition.

Rowland’s points tally from this race pus him on 74 points in the Drivers’ Championship, just three behind Leclerc’s 77, while Markelov sits third with 52 points.

The sprint race starts on Saturday at 16:10 local time (GMT +2).

2017 FIA Formula 2 Championship Race of Monaco – Feature Race Final Classification (41 laps)
Pos Driver Team Laps Result Pts
1. Oliver Rowland uk DAMS 41 1:00:46.545 27^
2. Artem Markelov ru Russian Time 41 + 0.864 18
3. Nobuharu Matsushita jp ART Grand Prix 41 + 13.769 15
4. Alexander Albon th ART Grand Prix 41 + 19.738 12
5. Luca Ghiotto it Russian Time 41 + 24.657 10
6. Gustav Malja se Racing Engineering 41 + 28.082 8
7. Nyck de Vries nl Rapax 41 + 28.453 6
8. Johnny Cecotto Jr. ve Rapax 41 + 29.125 4
9. Jordan King uk MP Motorsport 41 + 45.552 2
10. Sergio Canamasas es Trident 41 + 46.581 1
11. Antonio Fuoco it PREMA Racing 41 + 47.818
12. Ralph Boschung ch Campos Racing 41 + 50.772
13. Sean Galeal id Pertamina Arden 41 + 53.964
14. Nabil Jeffri my Trident 40 + 1 lap
15. Louis Delétraz ch Racing Engineering 39 + 2 laps
Not Classified Team / Entry Laps Result
DNF. Sérgio Sette Câmara br MP Motorsport 33 Mechanical 4^
DNF. Charles Leclerc mc PREMA Racing 26 Suspension
DNF. Norman Nato fr Pertamina Arden 23 Mechanical
DNF. Robert Vișoiu Campos Racing 20 Collision
DNF. Nicholas Latifi ca DAMS 6 Engine

* For claiming pole position for the Feature Race (4 pts)
^ For posting the fastest lap of the race and finishing inside the top-ten (2 pts)

Post-Race Penalties:

  • None

Image via FIA Formula 2 Championship

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Ahmad Shallouf

Contributing Writer at MotorsportM8