Williams reserve driver Nicholas Latifi extended his lead in the FIA Formula 2 Championship standings by claiming his third victory of the 2019 season in the Feature Race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

The DAMS driver was in contention throughout and shadowed early race leader Guan Yu Zhou until he overtook the Renault test driver late in the race to seal victory.

Zhou found himself in the lead at the start thanks to a brilliant getaway, while conversely his UNI-Virtuosi teammate Luca Ghiotto made a terrible getaway from his pole position and lost several places on the run to Turn 1.

2019 Formula 2 Spain Feature Race Start

A fast-starting Zhou swept into the early race lead ahead of Latifi, but ultimately could not fend off the championship leader for victory.

A chaotic opening lap saw Giuliano Alesi’s troubled Formula 2 rookie campaign continue with the French youngster chalking up his third self-induced retirement in a row; the Trident driver spinning off into the gravel at Turn 4.

Also coming to grief at the same corner was fellow second-generation F1 aspirant Mick Schumacher, whose PREMA suffered a right-rear puncture after a hit by Alesi’s teammate Ralph Boschung. The German would pit for new tyres and later punted Juan Manuel Correa out of the race at the same corner.

Further around the lap, Ghiotto’s poor start saw him come under assault by Campos Racing’s Dorian Boccolacci at Turn 10. The Frenchman lost control under braking for the left-hander and hit Ghiotto’s car, breaking the Italian’s front wing and forcing him into the pits.

The Safety Car was called into action so Alesi’s stranded car could be safely retrieved and upon the restart Zhou set about building a gap to Latifi before the pair both opted to make their compulsory pit stops early on and switch to the harder Prime tyre compound for the remainder of the race.

Nyck de Vries and Jack Aitken inherited the lead and briefly swapped positions before they too made their pit stops, rejoining behind Zhou and Latifi.

Running the alternate Prime-Option pit strategy, Boschung led the race but was steadily being reeled in by Anthoine Hubert (BWT Arden) and Jordan King (MP Motorsport). The Swiss driver was ultimately overtaken by both before he finally pitted, with Hubert and King eventually following suit by making their pit stops with four laps to go.

Once the cycle of pit stops was complete, Latifi had reeled in and overtaken Zhou for the effective race lead with a neat DRS-assisted pass. Zhou tried to cover the inside line into Turn 1, but Latifi swept around the outside at the right-hander before pulling away.

Zhou then fell into Baku Feature Race winner Jack Aitken’s clutches. He kept the Campos racing driver at bay with some quite aggressive defence into Turn 1, but Aitken was able to dummy Zhou and dived up the inside to claim second place.

Zhou would go on to claim his first Formula 2 podium, just finishing ahead of Ghiotto who put in a sterling recovery drive to climb to fourth place after his opening-lap hit from Boccolacci.

Ghiotto sealed the position with a late pass on Nyck de Vries (ART Grand Prix), who once again struggled to manage his tyre life on the Prime tyres. Despite their ultra-late pit stops, Hubert and King used their fresh tyres to great effect to finish sixth and seventh – King claimed two bonus points for the fastest lap of the race.

Callum Ilott (Sauber Junior Team by Charouz) was passed by both Hubert and King on the final lap, but hung onto finish eighth and secure the reversed grid pole position for Sunday’s Sprint Race. Sean Gelael (PREMA Racing) and Boschung claimed the final points-paying positions in ninth and tenth.

2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship – Spain Feature Race Final Classification (37 laps)
Driver Team / Entry Laps Result Pts
1. Nicholas Latifi DAMS 37 1:01:10.688 25
2. Jack Aitken Campos Racing 37 + 1.935 18
3. Guan Yu Zhou UNI Virtuosi Racing UNI-Virtuosi Racing 37 + 3.325 15
4. Luca Ghiotto UNI Virtuosi Racing UNI-Virtuosi Racing 37 + 4.361 16
5. Nyck de Vries ART Grand Prix 37 + 9.468 10
6. Anthoine Hubert BWT Arden 37 + 12.489 8
7. Jordan King MP Motorsport 37 + 14.277 8
8. Callum Ilott Sauber Junior Team by Charouz 37 + 17.385 4
9. Sean Gelael Prema Racing 37 + 19.072 2
10. Ralph Boschung Trident Racing 37 + 25.722 1
11. Nobuharu Matsushita Carlin Motorsport 37 + 33.602 4
12. Louis Delétraz Carlin Motorsport 37 + 38.546
13. Tatiana Calderón BWT Arden 37 + 45.789
14. Dorian Boccolacci Campos Racing 37 + 47.649
15. Mick Schumacher de Prema Racing 37 + 1:21.994
16. Mahaveer Raghunathan MP Motorsport 37 + 1:33.773
17. Nikita Mazepin ART Grand Prix 33 + 4 laps
Not Classified Team / Entry Laps Reason
NC. Sérgio Sette Câmara DAMS 28 + 9 laps
DNF. Juan Manuel Correa Sauber Junior Team by Charouz 24 Collision
DNF. Giuliano Alesi Trident Racing 0 Spin

Championship Points:

  • Championship points are awarded on the results of the Feature Race’s top-ten finishers on a 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 sliding scale.
  • Luca Ghiotto is awarded four bonus championship points for claiming pole position for the Feature Race.
  • Jordan King is awarded two bonus championship points for posting the fastest lap of the Feature Race by a top-ten finisher.

Post-Race Penalties:

  • None.

Images via FIA Formula 2 Championship

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Geoff Burke

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