Nyck de Vries was a man with a point to prove. The Dutch youngster had recently been dropped from the McLaren F1 team’s test driver line-up and was determined to prove the error of their decision in the most emphatic fashion.
He started out by claiming pole position in Thursday’s qualifying session, and then went on to claim a lights-to-flag victory in the Feature Race on Friday. It was a bizarre race to say the least, showcasing some impatient and clumsy driving by several of his competitors and a lengthy red flag interruption – the handling of which by race officials has since triggered plenty of criticism.
De Vries’ path to victory was made easier by fellow front-row starter Callum Ilott’s car shutting down as the cars gridded up to take the start. The British rookie, who had earned his best qualifying result of his season, was pushed back to the pit lane while the remaining 19 cars were sent on another formation lap.
That left de Vries with an unchallenged run to Sainte-Dévote at the start, allowing him to slot in ahead of Luca Ghiotto (UNI-Virtuosi) and Sérgio Sette Câmara (DAMS) once the starting lights went out.
Three drivers – Artem Markelov (MP Motorsport), Ralph Boschung (Trident) and Tatiana Calderón (BWT Arden) blatantly cut the Sainte-Dévote corner and used the pit lane exit to get through the right-hander; all three would earn themselves a 10-second pit lane time penalty when they would make their first pit stops.
Further down the order, a number of drivers were trying to work their way forward from poor grid positions. Chief among them was championship leader Nicholas Latifi, who had earned himself a three-place grid penalty for a red flag infringement in practice.
The Canadian was the first of several drivers to learn the hard lesson that success in Monaco is chiefly driven by patience and precision. He had neither of those when he came up to the back of Mick Schumacher’s PREMA, and tried to divebomb the German into the Fairmont Hairpin. There was inevitable contact, with Latifi breaking his front wing and being forced into making an earlier-than-planned pit stop.
The field was evenly split between the Option (Supersoft) / Prime (Soft) and Prime/Option pit strategies. The frontrunners were most running the latter strategy with a long first stint, but leading the charge among those who’d pitted early was Schumacher.
As he came upon the yet-to-pit and much slower Calderón, Schumacher’s lack of patience got the better of him and tried to sneak up on the inside of the Colombian at La Rascasse. The move was never on, and he simply succeeded in tipping the BWT Arden driver into a spin.
With the track completely blocked, the race was red-flagged for a lengthy period of time as each car was pushed one-by-one into the pit lane and repositioned into their actual running order.
As de Vries, Ghiotto and Sette Câmara were chief among the drivers yet to pit, this suspension put their positions at risk with their lead over those who had pitted now gone. The rules also did not allow them to serve their compulsory pit stop under red flag conditions, meaning they would have to put the hammer down after the restart to build enough of a gap to protect their positions.
A major procedural error by race officials put paid to their fears. The reshuffling of cars in the pit lane meant that those who hadn’t stopped technically lapped those who had.
Instead of allowing the lapped runners to un-lap themselves before the restart, the race was green-flagged after just one lap behind the Safety Car. This meant that the top-eight runners – all yet to pit at the time – could not be threatened by those who had made their stops.
With the race back on, de Vries pulled clear from Ghiotto and maintained his lead over the Italian once they had both stopped. Sette Câmara lost third position to Carlin Motorsport’s Nobuhara Matsushita with a slower pit stop than the Japanese driver.
The final stage of the race saw more clumsy driving, with Latifi capping off his disastrous day by turfing a furious Sean Gelael (PREMA Racing) into the barriers at La Rascasse and earning a drive-through penalty for his efforts.
MP Motorsport’s Mahaveer Raghunathan – who was miles off the pace and had been a mobile chicane for much of the race – then hit Jack Aitken’s Campos at Fairmont Hairpin, ending the British driver’s miserable race. Simultaneously, Juan Manuel Correa crashed his Sauber Junior Team car at the exit of the Swimming Pool complex to bring out the Safety Car.
It pulled back into the pits with one lap to go, leaving de Vries to claim a comfortable victory ahead of Ghiotto, Matsushita and Sette Câmara. It was de Vries’ second win of the season, and with championship leader Latifi failing to score any points after his error-ridden race, he closed to within 1 point of the Canadian at the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings.
Ghiotto provisionally sat in third, a further seven points behind thanks to his second place finish, but he was later disqualified when his car failed post-race scrutineering.
His exclusion therefore promoted Matsushita to second and Sette Câmara into third, with the top-ten finishers completed by Dorian Boccolacci (Campos Racing), Guan Yu Zhou (UNI-Virtuosi), Markelov, Louis Delétraz (Carlin Racing), Anthoine Hubert (BWT Arden), Boschung and Nikita Mazepin (ART Grand Prix).
Hubert therefore inherits pole position for Saturday’s reversed-grid Sprint Race, with Delétraz starting alongside him on the front row.
|2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship – Monaco Feature Race Final Classification (41 laps)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result||Pts|
|1.||Nyck de Vries||ART Grand Prix||41||1:30:56.153||29|
|2.||Nobuharu Matsushita||Carlin Motorsport||41||+ 4.046||20|
|3.||Sérgio Sette Câmara||DAMS||41||+ 5.470||15|
|4.||Dorian Boccolacci||Campos Racing||41||+ 9.120||12|
|5.||Guan Yu Zhou||UNI Virtuosi Racing||41||+ 1:02.548||10|
|6.||Artem Markelov||MP Motorsport||40||+ 1 lap||8|
|7.||Louis Delétraz||Carlin Motorsport||40||+ 1 lap||6|
|8.||Anthoine Hubert||BWT Arden||40||+ 1 lap||4|
|9.||Ralph Boschung||Trident Racing||40||+ 1 lap||2|
|10.||Nikita Mazepin||ART Grand Prix||40||+ 1 lap||1|
|11.||Giuliano Alesi||Trident Racing||40||+ 1 lap|
|12.||Nicholas Latifi||DAMS||40||+ 1 lap|
|13.||Mick Schumacher||Prema Racing||40||+ 1 lap|
|14.||Tatiana Calderón||BWT Arden||39||+ 2 laps|
|15.||Mahaveer Raghunathan||MP Motorsport||39||+ 2 laps|
|16.||Juan Manuel Correa||Sauber Junior Team by Charouz||37||Accident|
|17.||Jack Aitken||Campos Racing||36||Collision|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Reason|
|DSQ.||Luca Ghiotto||UNI Virtuosi Racing||41||Excluded|
|DNF.||Sean Gelael||Prema Racing||32||Collision|
|DNS.||Callum Ilott||Sauber Junior Team by Charouz||Electrical|
- 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.
- Nyck de Vries is awarded four bonus championship points for claiming pole position for the Feature Race.
- Nobuhara Matsushita is awarded two bonus championship points for posting the fastest lap of the Feature Race by a top-ten finisher.
- Luca Ghiotto – who provisionally finished in P2 – was disqualified from the Feature Race results when his car failed post-race scrutineering (excessively thick rack stops). He is permitted to start the Monaco Sprint Race from last position on the grid.
- Mahaveer Raghunathan – who provisionally finished P15 – was issued a Drive-Through Penalty (converted to a 20-second post-race time penalty) for causing an avoidable collision with Jack Aitken
Images via FIA Formula 2 Championship