George Russell closed to within two points of the FIA Formula 2 Championship lead after claiming a comfortable victory in the Feature Race at the Red Bull Ring.

With series organisers opting for a rolling race start after a succession of stalls in previous races, the Mercedes junior driver therefore converted pole position into the lead of the race. He pulled clear of fellow front-row starter and championship leader Lando Norris, with Russell’s early pace ensuring he could not come within DRS range and a potential attack from the Carlin driver.

The race was neutralised on Lap 6 when the Safety Car was called to helps marshals retrieve Ralph Boschung’s stranded MP Motorsport car, which had retired. At the same time, Nyck de Vries ended his race by spinning into the gravel trap at Turn 3.

Russell, along with most of the field, opted to make his compulsory pit stop during this time. In a chaotic pit lane, Maximilian Günther collected an air line as he exited his Arden team’s pit bay, which struck a mechanic from the rival Campos Racing team. The mechanic fortunately escaped any serious injuries, but Günther was later issued a post-race time penalty that dropped him to last place among the classified finishers.

Arjun Maini, Sean Gelael and Artem Markelov opted to stay out on track and occupied the first three positions when the race resumed, gambling on a second safety Car later in the race to help their alternate strategies pan out.

Russell emerged from the pits in fourth place but effectively holding the net race lead. The restart saw Markelov move to the front of the field, with Russell quickly disposing of Gelael and Maini.

Markelov ran at the front of the field until he eventually made his compulsory pit stop with just four laps to go, giving Russell the lead and victory of the race.

Norris had fallen back into the clutches of Roberto Merhi – who had improved from twelfth on the grid – and found himself overtaken by the former F1 driver on Lap 30. Norris regained second place from the Spaniard on Lap 38 to ensure he would keep the lead of the Drivers’ Championship from Russell, albeit by just two points.

Merhi lost out on claiming the final podium spot to Antonio Fuoco, who had similarly charged his way from a midfield qualifying position. The Charouz Racing System driver put in an incredible move around the outside of Merhi at Turn 3 and sealed the move after a side-by-side drag race to Turn 4.

Alexander Albon survived a post-race hearing into an unsafe pit release to claim fifth ahead of Sergio Sette Câmara in the second Carlin entry.

With a number of drivers struggling to manage their tyre wear on account of pitting so early in the race, RUSSIAN TIME rookie Tadasuke Makino showed great care for his Pirelli rubber and nursed his way to the finish with a fine drive to seventh place and a reversed-grid front row start for Sunday’s Sprint Race.

Joining him on the front row for tomorrow’s race will be his teammate Markelov, whose late pit stop gave him an abundance of grip over the final laps as he passed rival drivers with ease. The Russian driver incredibly overtook four cars on the last lap of the race to seal eighth place, giving him a superb platform to potentially claim victory in the Sprint Race.

2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship Race of Austria – Feature Race Results (40 laps)
Driver Team / Entry Laps Result Pts
1. George Russell uk ART Grand Prix 40 56:16.865 29
2. Lando Norris uk Carlin Motorsport 40 + 5.131 18
3. Antonio Fuoco Charouz Racing System 40 + 9.633 15
4. Roberto Merhi es MP Motorsport 40 + 11.796 12
5. Alexander Albon DAMS 40 + 14.643 10
6. Sergio Sette Câmara Carlin Motorsport 40 + 16.900 8
7. Tadasuke Makino Russian Time 40 + 18.834 6
8. Artem Markelov Russian Time 40 + 24.690 6
9. Nirei Fukuzumi BWT Arden International 40 + 25.528 2
10. Santino Ferrucci Trident Racing 40 + 26.585 1
11. Nicholas Latifi DAMS 40 + 27.406
12. Luca Ghiotto it Campos Vexatec Racing 40 + 29.485
13. Sean Gelael Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 40 + 37.135
14. Arjun Maini in Trident Racing 40 + 39.355
15. Maximilian Günther de BWT Arden International 40 + 49.153
Not Classified Team / Entry Laps Result
DNF. Louis Delétraz Charouz Racing System 32 Mechanical
DNF. Jack Aitken uk ART Grand Prix 19 Extinguisher
DNF. Nyck de Vries Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 7 Spin
DNF. Ralph Boschung ch MP Motorsport 4 Mechanical
DNF. Roy Nissany Campos Vexatec Racing 3 Engine

Championship Points:

  • Points are awarded to the top 10 classified finishers in the Feature Race on a 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 scale.
  • George Russell is awarded an additional 4 championship points for claiming pole position.
  • Artem Markelov is awarded an additional 2 championship points for posting the fastest lap of the race by a top ten finisher.

Post-Race Penalties:

  • Maximilian Günther – who was provisionally classified in 12th place – was issued a 20-second post-race time penalty for running over pit equipment which led to contact with a mechanic in pit lane.

Image via FIA Formula 2 Championship

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Geoff Burke

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