McLaren junior driver Nyck de Vries secured a dominant victory in the Formula 2 Sprint Race at Paul Ricard, which was again blighted by mechanical dramas for a number of runners in the field.

The new-for-2018 Dallara-designed Formula 2 car has been beset by start-line issues and Sunday’s Sprint Race proved no different when Feature Race winner George Russell and Nirei Fukuzumi were both consigned to the pits before the start of the race. The mechanical drama marked a major blow for Russell, who closed to within seven points of championship leader Lando Norris after his compatriot failed to score in Saturday’s Feature Race.

The warm-up lap saw the 20-car field further trimmed when Jack Aitken embarrassingly spun his ART Grand Prix entry into retirement.

When the starting lights went out, Artem Markelov stalled on the grid along with – not for the first time this year – both MP Motorsport entries of Ralph Boschung and Roberto Merhi.

Of those who were able to get off the line, reversed grid pole-sitter Tadasuke Makino had a sluggish getaway and immediately lost the lead to Nicholas Latifi’s DAMS, with the Canadian chased by Louis Delétraz and de Vries.

Delétraz had an excellent opening lap and slipstreamed Latifi down the back straight to overtake the Force India reserve driver at the Turn 8 chicane.

De Vries followed suit two laps later and quickly slashed into Delétraz’s 2.5-second lead. By Lap 11 he was within DRS range and the Dutch driver made his move at Turn 8 with a neat move around the outside of the Swiss driver to take the lead.

With superior pace, he pulled away from Delétraz and claimed victory by almost 10 seconds, while Delétraz was left to fend off a quicker Luca Ghiotto, who secured back-to-back podium finishes.

Antonio Fuoco finished fourth and led a tight battle with the Carlin duo of Lando Norris and Sergio Sette Câmara in the final laps as they came upon the struggling Latifi.

Fuoco was able to clear away from Norris by passing Latifi, and after Norris managed to get by the DAMS driver on the final lap he was then hit in the rear by Latifi who damaged his front wing.

With a major loss of front downforce, Latifi dropped behind his teammate Alexander Albon – who climbed up the field from seventeenth on the grid – before the chequered flag.

The Formula 2 Championship field has less than a week to regroup for its next round in Austria as part of a triple-header sequence of events.

2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship Race of France – Sprint Race Results (21 laps)
Driver Team / Entry Laps Result Pts
1. Nyck de Vries Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 21 38:28.325 17
2. Louis Delétraz Charouz Racing System 21 + 9.648 12
3. Luca Ghiotto it Campos Vexatec Racing 21 + 9.870 10
4. Antonio Fuoco Charouz Racing System 21 + 16.678 8
5. Lando Norris uk Carlin Motorsport 21 + 17.752 6
6. Sergio Sette Câmara Carlin Motorsport 21 + 20.405 4
7. Alexander Albon DAMS 21 + 20.732 2
8. Nicholas Latifi DAMS 21 + 24.445 1
9. Santino Ferrucci Trident Racing 21 + 35.726
10. Roy Nissany Campos Vexatec Racing 21 + 41.643
11. Maximilian Günther de BWT Arden International 21 + 49.489
12. Nirei Fukuzumi BWT Arden International 21 + 53.765
13. Arjun Maini in Trident Racing 21 + 59.010
14. Artem Markelov Russian Time 20 Mechanical
15. Roberto Merhi es MP Motorsport 20 1 lap behind
16. Ralph Boschung ch MP Motorsport 20 1 lap behind
17. George Russell uk ART Grand Prix 19 2 laps behind
18. Sean Gelael Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 19 Mechanical
Not Classified Team / Entry Laps Result
DNF. Tadasuke Makino Russian Time 6 Mechanical
DNS. Jack Aitken uk ART Grand Prix 0 Spin

Championship Points:

  • Points are awarded to the top 8 classified finishers in the Sprint Race on a 15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 scale.
  • Nyck de Vries is awarded an additional 2 championship points for posting the fastest lap of the race by a points’ finisher.

Post-Race Penalties:

  • None

Image via FIA Formula 2 Championship

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Geoff Burke

Journalist at MotorsportM8
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