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||Campos Vexatec Racing||21||+ 9.870||10|
|4.||Antonio Fuoco||Charouz Racing System||21||+ 16.678||8|
|5.||Lando Norris||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||BWT Arden International||21||+ 49.489|
|12.||Nirei Fukuzumi||BWT Arden International||21||+ 53.765|
|13.||Arjun Maini||Trident Racing||21||+ 59.010|
|14.||Artem Markelov||Russian Time||20||Mechanical|
|15.||Roberto Merhi||MP Motorsport||20||1 lap behind|
|16.||Ralph Boschung||MP Motorsport||20||1 lap behind|
|17.||George Russell||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||ART Grand Prix||0||Spin|
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.
Image via FIA Formula 2 Championship