Charles Leclerc’s dominant Saturday victory has been disallowed after his car failed post-race inspections along with third-placed and main title rival Oliver Rowland, promoting Artem Markelov to the winning step.

Leclerc had a half-decent start, allowing Rowland to run along on the outside on the run to La Source, with Leclerc keeping the inside line, he was able to maintain his lead with the pair making slight contact, costing Rowland minor front wing damage.

From that point, Leclerc built a healthy lead over Rowland, both running a soft/medium tyre strategy. With the first stop coming from Rowland on lap 7, Leclerc managed to extend his first stint until lap 11 when he still emerged ahead of Rowland and began to smash the timing screens, almost two seconds a lap faster than everyone else on the track.

As Leclerc crossed the line, 26 seconds behind him Rowland was under massive pressure from Markelov who utilized a medium/soft strategy to race his way from P9 to the back of Rowland’s car in P3, attacking the Briton at the Bus Stop chicane where he was pushed wide but used his fresher tyres to out-drag Rowland, albeit on the outside of the track.

Both drivers were given 5-second time penalties for this skirmish. Rowland for pushing an opponent off-track and Markelov for overtaking Rowland outside the track limits, effectively canceling out both penalties and initially classifying Markelov and Rowland 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Post-race inspections found that both Leclerc’s and Rowland’s cars had too much wear on the wooden underfloor plank and were thus both disqualified, promoting Markelov to the win ahead of Ghiotto, completing a RUSSIAN TIME 1-2, while Antonio Fuoco found himself in his first podium of a difficult 2017.

Behind them, Gustav Malja narrowly edged out his new Racing Engineering team mate Nyck de Vries for 4th, while Sergio Sette Camara took 6th ahead of Roberto Merhi who did well on his F2 return to finish ahead of Norman Nato who takes reversed-grid pole with his P8 finish. Santino Ferruci and Robert Visoiu also inherited points as they now round up the top 10 with 9th and 10th respectively.

This results leaves Leclerc in the drivers’ title lead ahead of Rowland while Markelov takes a big chunk off Rowland’s points margin as follows:

1- Charles Leclerc, 212 pts.
2- Oliver Rowland, 158 pts.
3- Artem Markelov, 150 pts.

Sunday’s Sprint Race, scheduled over 18 laps, gets underway at 10:15 local time (GMT +2).

2017 FIA Formula 2 Championship Race of Belgium – Feature Race Final Classification (25 laps)
Driver Team / Entry Laps Result
1. Artem Markelov Russian Time 25 52:50.172
2. Luca Ghiotto Russian Time 25 + 5.985
3. Antonio Fuoco PREMA Racing 25 + 6.374
4. Gustav Malja Racing Engineering 25 + 19.840
5. Nyck de Vries Racing Engineering 25 + 21.077
6. Sergio Sette Câmara MP Motorsport 25 + 29.284
7. Roberto Merhi Rapax 25 + 33.407
8. Norman Nato Pertamina Arden 25 + 35.539
9. Santino Ferrucci Trident 25 + 42.663
10. Robert Vișoiu Campos Racing 25 + 44.061
11. Nabil Jeffri Trident 25 + 47.536
12. Alexander Albon ART Grand Prix 25 + 59.480
13. Ralph Boschung Campos Racing 25 + 1:00.145
14. Louis Delétraz Rapax 25 + 1:00.998
15. Sean Gelael Pertamina Arden 25 + 1:14.010
16. Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix 24 + 1 lap
Not Classified Team / Entry Laps Result
DNF. Jordan King MP Motorsport 1 Puncture
DNS. Nicholas Latifi DAMS 0 Mechanical
DQ. Charles Leclerc PREMA Racing Floor
DQ. Oliver Rowland DAMS Floor

Post-Race Penalties:

  • Charles Leclerc – who was provisionally classified as the winner of the race – was disqualified after his car failed post-race scrutineering due to excessive wear to the underfloor plank.
  • Oliver rowland – who was provisionally classified in second place – was disqualified after his car failed post-race scrutineering due to excessive wear to the underfloor plank.

Image via FIA Formula 2 Championship

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Ahmad Shallouf

Contributing Writer at MotorsportM8