Luca Ghiotto emerged from a dramatic final lap to claim home victory in a controversial and action-packed feature race at Monza.
The race was delayed by two and a half hours after Formula 1 qualifying was suspended due to poor weather. By the time it was F2’s turn to take the track the rain was still falling and it was decided that a series of formation laps be run until the track was clear to race. After six laps the grid finally formed up on the starting line, but another formation lap was run after Santino Ferruci stalled, making it a 23-lap race.
At the start, de Vries quickly took the lead after pole-sitter Matsushita’s slow getaway while Leclerc made a quick start to challenge Matsushita at the end of the back straight, nearly spinning off but catching his car to take P2 ahead of the ART driver, Deletraz, Merhi, Rowland, Latifi, Ghiotto, Fuoco.
Leclerc set a string of fastest laps to catch leader de Vries but ran wide several times at the first chicane while behind, team mate Fuoco caught up to P6 as the pit stop window opened. Matsushita was first to pit, one lap before Leclerc who forced de Vries into cover off the Monegasque.
Racing Engineering’s stop was excellent, helping de Vries maintain his lead ahead of Leclerc while in contrast, Rowland’s stop was too hurried, as his left rear fell off the car at the Roggia chicane, sending him to retirement and bringing out the safety car with just four laps to go.
The safety car quickly pulled in, making it a 2-lap dash to the flag and Leclerc quickly challenged de Vries into Turn 1 but had to take the escape road and conceded the lead to de Vries and Ghiotto, who in turn took advantage of de Vries’ compromised position to take the lead. At the next tour into the first chicane, it was Ghiotto who went too deep and took the shortcut as the leading duo clashed among the chaos into Turn 3, sending Leclerc to the barriers and giving de Vries a puncture, causing him to run deep into the second chicane, off to the gravel into the first Lesmo and into retirement. Leclerc followed him into Lesmo but kept his car running to defiantly take the flag in P17, labeling his former GP3 team mate “stupid”.
The incident -which is still under investigation- allowed Ghiotto to keep the lead and take a superb home win from P11 at the start ahead of Fuoco who capitalized on the events ahead to complete an Italian 1-2 while Matsushita completed the podium in P3.
Nicholas Latifi took 4th ahead of Alexander Albon who recovered from a first-lap spin to take P5. Behind them, Sean Gelael took 6th ahead of Camara, Deletraz and Malja while Markelov recovered from a failed attempt for the lead to take the final point of the race.
Sunday’s 21-lap Feature Race will begin at 10:15 local time (GMT +2)
1- Charles Leclerc, 212 points
2- Oliver Rowland, 158 points
3- Artem Markelov, 151 points
Image via FIA Formula 2 Championship Media