Oliver Rowland has secured the runner-up position in the Formula 2 Championship standings from Artem Markelov with victory over the Russian driver in Saturday night’s Feature Race at Abu Dhabi.
The Briton managed to overtake Markelov, who on Friday claimed his and the Russian Time team’s first pole position in the category, after the pair made their mandatory pit stops and was never seriously challenged for the remainder of the 31-lap race.
Markelov retained his pole position to lead the field off the line, but found himself closely pursued by front-row starter Nyck de Vries and Rowland, who jumped up to third.
While Markelov and Rowland ran a Super Soft / Soft tyre strategy, de Vries did the opposite and used his harder tyres to overtake Markelov shortly before he and Rowland peeled into the pits for their compulsory pit stop.
Running longer to make his strategy work, the new race leader found himself closed down by newly-crowned champion Charles Leclerc, who was steadily working his way forward after starting the race from sixth place. The Monegasque driver was soon able to find his way past into the lead.
As Leclerc eased away from the Dutch driver, Rowland managed to take advantage of Markelov being held up the yet-to-stop midfield runners, overtaking the Russian Time driver on the approach to Turn 8.
Rowland was now separated from Leclerc by 26 seconds, with the PREMA Racing driver still yet to stop. With the Englishman on fresher tyres, he managed to cut the gap to 19 seconds by the time Leclerc finally pitted with eight laps of the race to go.
Rowland easily reclaimed the lead, while Leclerc rejoined in third behind Markelov and quickly began to threaten his second place with a succession of quicker laps before his tyre grip fell away once more.
With teammate Antonio Fuoco in fourth, Leclerc slowed on the final lap to gift the Italian the final spot on the podium. Luca Ghiotto finished fifth in the second Russian Time entry after overtaking de Vries on the final lap of the race.
Nicholas Latifi (DAMS) similarly managed to pass Nobuhara Matsushita (ART) for seventh in the closing stages of the race.
Ninth place went to Matsushita’s teammate Alexander Albon, who proved that overtaking is indeed possible at Yas Marina after being demoted to the back of the grid for a post-qualifying infringement. The Thai driver also posted the fastest lap, while Jordan King (MP Motorsport) claimed the final point on offer by finishing tenth.
Formula 2 debutante Lando Norris had an unhappy race. Starting from thirteenth on the grid, his Campos Racing entry expired after just five laps with an engine problem.
Sunday’s 22-lap Sprint Race will begin at 14:10 local time (GMT +3).
|2017 FIA Formula 2 Championship Race of Abu Dhabi – Provisional Feature Race Results (31 laps)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|2.||Artem Markelov||Russian Time||31||+ 6.679|
|3.||Antonio Fuoco||PREMA Racing||31||+ 22.929|
|4.||Charles Leclerc||PREMA Racing||31||+ 22.944|
|5.||Luca Ghiotto||Russian Time||31||+ 32.177|
|6.||Nyck de Vries||Racing Engineering||31||+ 33.920|
|7.||Nicholas Latifi||DAMS||31||+ 36.436|
|8.||Nobuharu Matsushita||ART Grand Prix||31||+ 38.713|
|9.||Alexander Albon||ART Grand Prix||31||+ 41.357|
|10.||Jordan King||MP Motorsport||31||+ 47.378|
|11.||Sergio Sette Câmara||MP Motorsport||31||+ 50.044|
|12.||Louis Delétraz||Rapax||31||+ 59.095|
|13.||Gustav Malja||Racing Engineering||31||+ 1:07.937|
|14.||Álex Palou||Campos Racing||31||+ 1:11.335|
|15.||Norman Nato||Pertamina Arden||31||+ 1:18.948|
|16.||Santino Ferrucci||Trident||31||+ 1:28.235|
|17.||Sean Gelael||Pertamina Arden||31||+ 1:30.534|
|18.||Roberto Merhi||Rapax||30||+ 1 lap|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|DNF.||Lando Norris||Campos Racing||5||Engine|
Image via FIA Formula 2 Championship