Anthoine Hubert claimed his first Formula 2 Championship race victory, winning a thrilling photo finish sprint to the chequered flag after a race-long battle with Louis Delétraz.

The Frenchman, starting from the reversed-grid pole position, fended off Delétraz at the start and managed two Safety Car interruptions in the early stages of the race.

In a weekend defined by self-destructive driving by championship leader Nicholas Latifi in the Feature Race, it was the turn of his main championship rival Luca Ghiotto to implode in the Sprint Race. The Italian had already been stripped of his second place finish in Friday’s Feature Race after his UNI-Virtuosi failed scrutineering and was sent to the back of the grid for Saturday’s 30-lap Sprint Race.

On Lap 3 he dived past Hubert’s BWT Arden teammate Tatiana Calderón at Mirabeau, but the Colombian driver shut the door on Ghiotto and was sent into the barriers at the outside of the hairpin. The Safety Car was called out for a lap while her car was craned away, while Calderón was left to nurse an apparently injured wrist.

Four laps later Ghiotto found himself trapped behind the MP Motorsport of Mahaveer Raghunathan, who had already earned a time penalty for blatantly shortcutting Sainte-Dévote at the start. While arguably lacking either the pace or skill to be in the field, Raghunathan did hold track position and was rightfully defending it on a circuit where overtaking is ultra-difficult.

An all-too-desperate Ghiotto tried a do-or-die pass under braking for the Fairmont Hairpin; Raghunathan tried to block him and the pair predictably collided. Out came the Safety Car again.

Hubert again kept Delétraz at bay at the second restart, with the pair being chased by the sole remaining UNI-Virtuosi of Renault test driver Guan Yu Zhou and MP Motorsport stand-in Artem Markelov.

As the final laps wound down it was clear that Hubert was beginning to struggle with his tyres, allowing Delétraz to close in. The Swiss driver was all over the back of Hubert’s car through the tunnel over consecutive laps, forcing Hubert to lock up on approach to the Nouvelle Chicane. To his credit, Hubert didn’t cut the corner, doggedly defending the racing line.

On the final lap, Hubert seemed to have enough in hand, but a tank-slapper exiting La Rascasse brought Delétraz back into contention as they exited the final corner at Anthony Noghes. As Hubert accelerated towards the finish line, the quicker Delétraz drew alongside and came within a whisker of snatching victory – the pair crossed the finish line just 0.059 seconds apart.

Anthoine Hubert (BWT Arden) and Louis Deletraz (Carlin) - 2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship Race of Monaco

Just 0.059 seconds separated race-winner Hubert from Delétraz in their sprint to the finish line.

Less than a second behind the pair, Zhou claimed third position to earn his second podium finish of his F2 career, while the ever flamboyant Markelov was fourth.

Campos Racing’s Dorian Boccolacci couldn’t keep pace with the top-four, but consolidated his career-best fourth place in the Feature Race with a fifth place finish in the Sprint Race.

The French youngster finished ahead of DAMS’ Sérgio Sette Câmara and the ART Grand Prix pairing of Nyck de Vries and Nikita Mazepin.

Feature Race winner De Vries moves to within one point of championship leader Latifi, who scraped just two points from a tough weekend by dint of posting the fastest lap of the race on the final lap.

Joining Calderón, Ghiotto and Raghunathan in retirement were Trident teammates Ralph Boschung and Giuliano Alesi. The former retired after the second Safety Car restart with an apparent engine failure, while Alesi found himself under assault by PREMA’s Sean Gelael.

The Indonesian driver almost tipped Alesi into a spin at the Fairmont Hairpin while they battled for position, but later on in the lap Gelael punted him out of the race when he missed his braking point at the Nouvelle Chicane

The fifth round of the FIA Formula 2 Championship takes place at the Circuit Paul Ricard on 22-23 June in support of the French Formula 1 Grand Prix.

2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship – Monaco Sprint Race Final Classification (30 laps)
Driver Team / Entry Laps Result Pts
1. Anthoine Hubert BWT Arden 30 44:23.388 15
2. Louis Delétraz Carlin Motorsport 30 + 0.059 12
3. Guan Yu Zhou UNI Virtuosi Racing UNI-Virtuosi Racing 30 + 0.922 10
4. Artem Markelov MP Motorsport 30 + 2.459 8
5. Dorian Boccolacci Campos Racing 30 + 13.689 6
6. Sérgio Sette Câmara DAMS 30 + 16.322 4
7. Nyck de Vries ART Grand Prix 30 + 16.952 2
8. Nikita Mazepin ART Grand Prix 30 + 17.337 1
9. Nobuharu Matsushita Carlin Motorsport 30 + 18.770
10. Nicholas Latifi DAMS 30 + 19.335 2
11. Mick Schumacher de Prema Racing 30 + 21.559
12. Juan Manuel Correa Sauber Junior Team by Charouz 30 + 22.639
13. Jack Aitken Campos Racing 30 + 23.284
14. Callum Ilott Sauber Junior Team by Charouz 30 + 27.813
15. Sean Gelael Prema Racing 29 + 1 lap
Not Classified Team / Entry Laps Reason
DNF. Giuliano Alesi Trident Racing 17 Collision
DNF. Ralph Boschung Trident Racing 9 Engine 2
DNF. Mahaveer Raghunathan MP Motorsport 6 Collision
DNF. Luca Ghiotto UNI Virtuosi Racing UNI-Virtuosi Racing 6 Collision
DNF. Tatiana Calderón BWT Arden 2 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.
  • Nicholas Latifi is awarded two bonus championship points for posting the fastest lap of the Sprint Race by a top-ten finisher.

Post-Race Penalties:

  • Luca Ghiotto will serve a three-place grid penalty at the France Feature Race for causing an avoidable collision with Mahaveer Raghunathan.
  • Mahaveer Raghunathan will serve a three-place grid penalty at the France Feature Race for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

Images via FIA Formula 2 Championship

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Geoff Burke

Journalist at MotorsportM8
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