Norman Nato wins Baku Feature Race as late race penalty costs Leclerc victory

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After Charles Leclerc won from pole position in the Formula 2 Feature Race in Baku, the field was reversed for the Sprint Race and Ralph Boschung was starting from pole position for Campos Racing after finishing in eighth place in the first race of the weekend.

Norman Nato wins Baku Feature Race as late race penalty costs Leclerc victory

When the field of 20 charged into the first corner once the lights went out, Boschung held onto his lead, squeezing Oliver Rowland on the inside of the first corner. Going into turn 2 however, Rowland quickly extracted his revenge and launched an attack up the inside of the Swiss racer, moving into first place and extending his lead to 0.8 seconds.

Two laps later, Norman Nato then made his move, launching an attack up the inside of Boschung, clipping the driver and losing some of the elements of his front wing in the process. Nicholas Latifi then followed Nato through with a diving move on the same lap, moving up into third place while Boschung quickly dropped out of the podium positions to fourth as Rowland extended his lead to 2.1 seconds.

Nyck de Vries then cleared Boschung and moved up into fourth, finding clear air and setting the fastest lap immediately on lap 5, allowing him to close up and pass Latifi for the final podium position on lap 7.

There was then a lead change on lap 8 when Oliver Rowland ground to a halt with a gearbox issue, allowing Nato to move into first place. Further drama followed when the now second placed De Vries ran off the circuit from second place after out braking himself, forcing the F2 rookie into retirement for the second time this season. This allowed Latifi to move into second place and Jordan King to advance to third.

While a flurry of retirements at the front of the field distracted the eyes of many, Charles Leclerc had slowly but surely made his way through the field after starting the race in eighth place and dropping to ninth in the first lap, overtaking Artem Markelov, Sergey Sirotkin, and Ralph Boschung to move into fourth, just behind Jordan King.

A fastest lap saw Leclerc pass King to move into third, while yet another fastest lap saw the Monégasque driver overtake Latifi for second place, leaving only Norman Nato standing between him and a double race victory – an achievement that few drivers have achieved.

A further flurry of fastest laps from Leclerc from lap 13 to lap 17 saw the Prema driver on the tail of Nato, looking to pass the Frenchman for the lead and for the win. Leclerc soon found himself under investigation for failing to slow for yellow flags however, and he was slapped with a 10 second time penalty, making a second victory in Baku unlikely.

Despite having a penalty, Leclerc didn’t stop and soon overtook Nato using DRS on lap 18 and held onto first until he took the checkered flag on lap 21, followed by Nato and Nicholas Latifi.

Through the time penalty that he received, Leclerc was dropped to second place, handing Nato his first race victory of 2017, while Latifi finished on the podium for the second time this weekend and the third time in 2017.

Jordan King continued his points scoring streak for MP Motorsport to finish in fourth place, making him the only driver to finish in the points in every race so far in this season. Sergey Sirotkin finished in fifth place for ART Grand Prix, followed by Artem Markelov in sixth, Nobuharu Matsushita in seventh, and Luca Ghiotto in eighth, rounding out the podium positions.

Formula 2 will return in Austria for the fifth round of the 2017 Season. After having only secured six points in the last three races, Oliver Rowland will be looking to secure a strong result in Spielberg to keep his championship hopes alive and within reaching distance of Leclerc with the Monégasque driver now having an advantage of 42 points in the Drivers’ Championship.

Results from the Azerbaijan Formula 2 Sprint Race:

  1. Norman Nato, Pertamina Arden Racing, 15 points
  2. Charles Leclerc, Prema Racing, 12 points
  3. Nicholas Latifi, DAMS, 10 points
  4. Jordan King, MP Motorsport, 8 points
  5. Sergey Sirotkin, ART Grand Prix, 6 points
  6. Artem Markelov, Russian Time, 4 points
  7. Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix, 2 points
  8. Luca Ghiotto, Russian Time, 1 point
  9. Ralph Boschung, Campos Racing, 0 points
  10. Sergio Sette Camara, MP Motorsport, 0 points
  11. Sean Gelael, Pertamina Arden Racing, 0 points
  12. Robert Visoiu, Campos Racing, 0 points
  13. Antonio Fuoco, Prema Racing, 0 points
  14. Gustav Malja, Racing Engineering, 0 points
  15. Johnny Cecotto Jr, Rapax, 0 points
  16. Sergio Canamasas, Trident, 0 points
  17. Louis Deletraz, Racing Engineering, 0 points
  18. Nabil Jeffri, Trident, 0 points
  19. Nyck de Vries, Rapax, Ret
  20. Oliver Rowland, DAMS, Ret

Drivers Standings after Azerbaijan:

  1. Charles Leclerc, Prema Racing, 122 points
  2. Oliver Rowland, DAMS, 80 points
  3. Artem Markelov, Russian Time, 76 points
  4. Luca Ghiotto, Russian Time, 57 points
  5. Nicholas Latifi, DAMS, 53 points
  6. Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix, 50 points
  7. Nyck de Vries, Rapax, 45 points
  8. Jordan King, MP Motorsport, 45 points
  9. Norman Nato, Pertamina Arden Racing, 43 points
  10. Alexander Albon, ART Grand Prix, 37 points
  11. Gustav Malja, Racing Engineering, 28 points
  12. Johnny Cecotto Jr, Rapax, 16 points
  13. Sergey Sirotkin, ART Grand Prix, 7
  14. Ralph Boschung, Campos Racing, 4 points
  15. Sergio Canamasas, Trident, 3 point
  16. Antonio Fuoco, Prema Racing, 2 points
  17. Sergio Sette Camara, MP Motorsport, 0 points
  18. Sean Gelael, Pertamina Arden Racing, 0 points
  19. Louis Deletraz, Racing Engineering, 0 points
  20. Nabil Jeffri, Trident, 0 points
  21. Robert Visoiu, Campos Racing, 0 points
  22. Roberto Merhi, Campos Racing, 0 points
  23. Stefano Coletti, Campos Racing, 0 points

Constructors Standings after Azerbaijan:

  1. Russian Time, 133 points
  2. DAMS, 133 points
  3. Prema Racing, 124 points
  4. ART Grand Prix, 94 points
  5. Rapax, 61 points
  6. MP Motorsport, 45 points
  7. Pertamina Arden Racing, 43 points
  8. Racing Engineering, 28 points
  9. Campos Racing, 4 points
  10. Trident, 3 points