Nicholas Latifi extended his lead in the Formula 2 Drivers’ Championship standings with victory in a crash-marred Sprint Race that had three Safety Car interruptions.

The Williams reserve driver vaulted to third place at the start behind Prema’s Sean Gelael and Sauber Junior rookie Juan Manuel Correa as pole-sitter Nikita Mazepin bogged down off the line.

The race was almost immediately suspended behind the Safety Car when BWT Arden’s Tatiana Calderón took out the Swiss duo of Ralph Boschung (Trident) and Louis Delétraz (Carlin) after locking up down the inside of Turn 2, shunting all three drivers into the barriers.

Gelael pulled away at the race restart, while Latifi quickly got ahead of Correa to move into second place before commencing his pursuit of the race leader.

The Indonesian driver was struggling with rear brake locking and was swiftly closed in by Latifi, who breezed by to take the lead and quickly built a margin of almost four seconds over the rest of the field.

His gap was eroded with a second appearance by the Safety Car. This time it was brought out by Trident rookie Giuliano Alesi, who capped off a nightmare weekend for himself and the team by crashing into the barriers at Turn 3 with a poorly executed overtaking attempt on Guan Yu Chou’s UNI-Virtuosi.

Latifi managed the restart while Correa almost lost second place to Feature Race winner Jack Aitken with a heavy lock-up at Turn 1. Aitken tried to pass the American around the outside at Turn 2 but found his path blocked and lost the position to ART’s Nyck de Vries.

The action caught out the chasing Luca Ghiotto. The UNI-Virtuosi driver clipped the rear of Aitken’s Campos and slid into the Turn 2 wall, taking Jordan King (MP Motorsport) and Nikita Mazepin (ART Grand Prix) with him to give the race its second three-car accident at the left-hander.

The track marshals took an inordinately long time to recover all three stranded cars, and by now the race would run to a 45-minute time limit. It eventually restarted with enough time for two laps to run.

Latifi claimed victory and became the season’s first two-time winner, with Correa claiming his first F2 podium ahead of Aitken who managed to overtake de Vries on the last lap of the race.

Prema’s Mick Schumacher put in a charging drive from 19th on the grid to finish fifth, putting an aggressive move on teammate Gelael on the last lap to claim the position. The Indonesian driver lost two further place on the final tour to Latifi’s teammate Sérgio Sette Câmara and Dorian Boccolacci (Campos Racing) in the following corners, and survived a sprint to the finish line to Calum Ilott (Sauber Junior) to finish eighth and claim the final point of the race.

2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship – Azerbaijan Sprint Race Final Classification (23 laps)
Driver Team / Entry Laps Result Pts
1. Nicholas Latifi DAMS 19 48:43.284 15
2. Juan Manuel Correa Sauber Junior Team by Charouz 19 + 0.961 12
3. Jack Aitken Campos Racing 19 + 1.521 10
4. Nyck de Vries ART Grand Prix 19 + 2.602 8
5. Mick Schumacher de Prema Racing 19 + 3.247 6
6. Sérgio Sette Câmara DAMS 19 + 4.060 6
7. Dorian Boccolacci Campos Racing 19 + 6.503 2
8. Sean Gelael Prema Racing 19 + 7.724 1
9. Calum Ilott Sauber Junior Team by Charouz 19 + 7.729
10. Guan Yu Zhou UNI Virtuosi Racing UNI-Virtuosi Racing 19 + 9.293
11. Anthoine Hubert BWT Arden 19 + 11.074
12. Nobuharu Matsushita Carlin Motorsport 19 + 11.235
13. Mahaveer Raghunathan MP Motorsport 19 + 17.584
Not Classified Team / Entry Laps Reason
DNF. Nikita Mazepin ART Grand Prix 12 Collision
DNF. Luca Ghiotto UNI Virtuosi Racing UNI-Virtuosi Racing 12 Collision
DNF. Jordan King MP Motorsport 12 Collision
DNF. Giuliano Alesi Trident Racing 8 Accident
DNF. Tatiana Calderón BWT Arden 0 Collision
DNF. Ralph Boschung Trident Racing 0 Collision
DNF. Louis Delétraz Carlin Motorsport 0 Collision

Championship Points:

  • Championship points are awarded on the results of the Sprint Race’s top-eight finishers on a 15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 sliding scale.
  • Sérgio Sette Câmara is awarded two bonus championship points for posting the fastest lap of the Sprint Race by a top-eight finisher.

Post-Race Penalties:

  • Mahaveer Raghunathan – who was provisionally classified in 13th position – was issued a 5-second time penalty for overtaking Guan Yu Zhou before the control line at a Safety Car restart.
  • Tatiania Calderón – who failed to finish the race – was issued a three-place grid penalty for the Spain Feature Race for causing an avoidable collision with Ralph Boschung and Louis Delétraz.

Images via FIA Formula 2 Championship

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Geoff Burke

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