Antonio Fuoco redeemed himself after a clumsy Feature Race performance by claiming victory in a crash-strewn Formula 2 Sprint Race at Monaco.
The Italian was penalised for turfing Luca Ghiotto into the pit wall at the start of Friday’s Feature Race but recovered to finish in eighth place, earning pole position for the reversed-grid Sprint Race.
He scorched off the line to lead the field into Sainte Dévote, defending against championship leader Lando Norris for the remaining 30-lap race that was punctuated by several Safety Car interruptions before finishing under full-course yellow flag conditions.
Both he and Norris were subsequently awarded post-race time penalties equal to the time advantage they had gained under one of the VSC periods, which saw Norris demoted to third place after the race. Fuoco’s penalty did not strip him of his hard-fought win, however.
Norris’ penalty promoted Fuoco’s Charouz Racing System teammate Louis Delétraz to second place, giving the Czech team a 1-2 finish in its debut Formula 2 Championship season.
Just eight cars finished on the lead lap in an action-packed race marred by accidents for several drivers.
Once again, the new Formula 2 cars proved difficult to get off the line, with Nyck de Vries (PREMA) and Tadasuke Makino (Russian Time) both stalling as the lights went out – the latter was hit by an unsighted Luca Ghiotto starting further down the grid.
Front-row starter Jack Aitken was also an early casualty. The Anglo-Korean driver was slow off the line thanks to a throttle sensor failure in his ART entry – mercifully he avoided being collected by anyone else – and retired at the end of the opening lap. The Spain Sprint Race winner later branded the series’ persistent start-line problems as “unacceptable [and] unsafe”.
The start-line stallers triggered an early VSC and when racing resumed the real Safety Car was called into action when Sean Gelael, who finished second in Friday’s Feature Race, crashed his PREMA after getting airborne over the kerbs at the entry to the Swimming Pool complex.
Norris again applied pressure to Fuoco when the race resumed, but a mistake on Lap 13 saw him fall out of DRS range and he fell to over two seconds behind the race leader.
Fuoco extended his lead to over four seconds when the VSC was called again. Mercedes reserve driver George Russell’s difficult weekend ended in the barriers once again, with the Englishman hitting the wall exiting the second Swimming Pool chicane.
The Safety Car was called out once more when Alexander Albon hit Roy Nissany under braking for the Nouvelle Chicane when the latter had a wobble exiting the Tunnel. Both drivers were forced to retire.
The green flags had barely been unfurled with two laps to go when Santino Ferrucci (Trident) and Nirei Fukuzumi (Arden) both slid off at La Rascasse, with Ferrucci reporting that he had tripped up on “something on the track”.
The race could not be restarted, allowing Fuoco to cruise to the chequered flag ahead of the to-be-penalised Norris and Delétraz.
Monaco Feature Race winner Artem Markelov was one of the highlights of the Sprint Race with another superb drive from eighth on the grid to fourth. The Russian jumped to fifth after the start and moved to fourth when he frightened Trident driver Arjun Maini out of the way with a bold lunge at La Rascasse.
He was then all over the back of Delétraz and the pair staged a thrilling wheel-to-wheel battle over several laps where the Russian Time driver almost overtook the Swiss youngster at Massenet. The pair made light contact at Antony Noghes, nearly resulting in Delétraz being tipped into the wall.
MP Motorsport’s Roberto Merhi finished fifth ahead of Maini, but the Spaniard was subsequently penalised for overtaking the Indian under Safety Car conditions and was demoted to seventh behind Maximilian Günther.
DAMS’ Nicholas Latifi finished eighth and claimed the final point. The Canadian twice pitted during the VSC to take on the Supersoft Pirelli tyres, allowing him to post the fastest lap of the race and claim two bonus championship points.
The FIA Formula 2 Championship will take a four-week break before returning to action in support of the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard on June 22-24.
|2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship Race of Monaco – Feature Race Results (30 laps)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result||Pts|
|1.||Antonio Fuoco*||Charouz Racing System||30||48:44.373||15|
|2.||Louis Delétraz||Charouz Racing System||30||+ 2.069||12|
|3.||Lando Norris*||Carlin Motorsport||30||+ 2.272||10|
|4.||Artem Markelov||Russian Time||30||+ 4.091||8|
|5.||Arjun Maini||Trident Racing||30||+ 7.449||6|
|6.||Maximilian Günther||BWT Arden International||30||+ 7.955||4|
|7.||Roberto Merhi*||MP Motorsport||30||+ 11.099||2|
|8.||Nicholas Latifi||DAMS||30||+ 12.242||1|
|9.||Nyck de Vries||Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing||29||1 lap behind|
|10.||Luca Ghiotto||Campos Vexatec Racing||29||1 lap behind|
|11.||Nirei Fukuzumi||BWT Arden International||27||Accident|
|12.||Santino Ferrucci*||Trident Racing||27||Accident|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|DNF.||Roy Nissany||Campos Vexatec Racing||25||Collision|
|DNF.||Ralph Boschung||MP Motorsport||20||Mechanical|
|DNF.||George Russell||ART Grand Prix||18||Accident|
|DNF.||Sean Gelael||Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing||3||Accident|
|DNF.||Tadasuke Makino||Russian Time||2||Retired|
|DNF.||Jack Aitken||ART Grand Prix||1||Throttle|
|DNS.||Sergio Sette Câmara||Carlin Motorsport||Injured|
Points were awarded to the top 8 classified finishers in the Sprint Race on a 15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 scale.
Nicholas Latifi is awarded an additional 2 championship points for posting the fastest lap of the race by a points’ finisher.
- Antonio Fuoco was given a 0.8-second post-race time penalty in lieu of the advantage he gained for failing to meet the minimum sector time during the Virtual Safety Car period. The penalty did not affect his finishing position.
- Lando Norris – who was provisionally classified in 2nd place – was given a 1.1-second post-race time penalty in lieu of the advantage he gained for failing to meet the minimum sector time during the Virtual Safety Car period.
- Roberto Merhi – who was provisionally classified in 5th place – was given a 5-second post-race time penalty for overtaking Arujin Maini behind the Safety Car.
- Santino Ferrucci – who was provisionally classified in 12th place – was given a 10-second post-race time penalty for carrying out clutch bite point checks in the pit lane against the instructions of the FIA Race Director.
Image via FIA Formula 2 Championship