Artem Markelov wins Austria Sprint Race as Leclerc retires

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After Charles Leclerc dominated around the Red Bull Ring to win in the Feature Race, Formula 2 returned for the second time this weekend for the Sprint Race. With the field reversed for this shorter 28 lap race, Artem Markelov was starting from pole position after finishing in eighth, while Ralph Boschung started on the front row of the grid for the second Sprint Race in succession.

Artem Markelov wins Austria Sprint Race as Leclerc retires

When the lights went out, the field raced away for the tenth race of 2017. Markelov had the perfect start to lead into turn 1 while Boschung had a good initial getaway before stalling from his grid slot, leaving him stranded on the main straight as those behind him raced past. A sitting duck, the Swiss racer was soon hit by Raffaele Marciello when the Italian slammed into the back of the Campos car, ending the Trident driver’s miserable weekend although Boschung was able to continue.

The safety car was immediately deployed following this accident and the field formed up behind the safety car, with Markelov leading, Alexander Albon in second who gained two positions through Boschung’s slow getaway and Nobuharu Matsushita running wide in turn 1. Oliver Rowland was in third place for DAMS while Antonio Fuoco was in fourth.

The safety car peeled into the pits at the end of lap four and Charles Leclerc was the man on the move as soon as the green flag waved, overtaking Jordan King for fifth place going into turn 1. Three corners later however, Leclerc’s strong restart ended when he tangled with his team mate on the exit of turn 5, causing the virtual safety car to be deployed and him to retire from the race.

As soon as the virtual safety car period ended, the action out on track resumed when Luca Ghiotto made a move on Nyck de Vries. The McLaren junior driver immediately fought back against Ghiotto to reclaim the position. Going into turn 4 running three wide with Gustav Malja, the yellow flags waved again when the trio triggered an accident, punting Malja off the track and into the gravel. In all of this, Ghiotto emerged in eighth place while De Vries slipped down to ninth and Sergio Canamasas moved into the top ten.

Ghiotto then continued on his overtaking masterclass after starting down in 14th place, overtaking Robert Visoiu in turn 5 for seventh place while De Vries followed him through, moving into the points paying positions briefly. Visoiu then fought back, regaining the position from the Rapax driver. While all of this was happening, Nicholas Latifi was handed a five second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane while De Vries was under investigation for overtaking behind the safety car.

Ghiotto then overtook Latifi for sixth place and Jordan King for fifth, beginning his charge for fourth on Antonio Fuoco while Ralph Boschung retired because of the damage he sustained on lap 1. Fuoco slipped down to fifth place on lap 24 when Ghiotto overtook him in turn 4 with the assistance of DRS.

While the battle for eighth place raged on between Robert Visoiu and Nyck de Vries, the yellow flags waved for the pair when they both crashed in turn 4 on lap 25, promoting Sergio Canamasas up into the points. Norman Nato then grabbed an opportunity of a points finish with both hands, overtaking Canamasas for eighth after he started down in 20th and last place.

On lap 28, Artem Markelov crossed the line to win his second race of 2017 while Alexander Albon crossed the line in second to secure his first Formula 2 podium, holding off a hard charging Oliver Rowland who came home in third.

Ghiotto finished in fourth place while Antonio Fuoco finished in fifth. Jordan King crossed the line in sixth followed by Nicholas Latifi and Norman Nato who rounded out the points paying positions. Through Latifi’s penalty, Nato was promoted to seventh while the Canadian remained inside the top eight to still secure points.

Formula 2 will return next weekend at Silverstone for the 11th and 12th races of 2017. With Oliver Rowland closing the gap to Charles Leclerc in the Sprint Race, the British driver will be looking to put on a good show in front of his home crowd and take the fight to the championship leader.

Results from the Austrian Formula 2 Sprint Race:

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

Drivers Standings after Austria:

  1. Charles Leclerc, Prema Racing, 151 points
  2. Oliver Rowland, DAMS, 102 points
  3. Artem Markelov, Russian Time, 99 points
  4. Nicholas Latifi, DAMS, 72 points
  5. Luca Ghiotto, Russian Time, 66 points
  6. Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix, 62 points
  7. Alexander Albon, ART Grand Prix, 59 points
  8. Norman Nato, Pertamina Arden Racing, 45 points
  9. Nyck de Vries, Rapax, 45 points
  10. Jordan King, MP Motorsport, 43 points
  11. Gustav Malja, Racing Engineering, 28 points
  12. Antonio Fuoco, Prema Racing, 23 points
  13. Johnny Cecotto Jr, Rapax, 16 points
  14. Ralph Boschung, Campos Racing, 11 points
  15. Sergey Sirotkin, ART Grand Prix, 7
  16. Sergio Canamasas, Trident, 3 points
  17. Sean Gelael, Pertamina Arden Racing, 1 point
  18. Sergio Sette Camara, MP Motorsport, 0 points
  19. Louis Deletraz, Racing Engineering, 0 points
  20. Robert Visoiu, Campos Racing, 0 points
  21. Nabil Jeffri, Trident, 0 points
  22. Roberto Merhi, Campos Racing, 0 points
  23. Stefano Coletti, Campos Racing, 0 points
  24. Raffaele Marciello, Trident, 0 points

Constructors Standings after Austria:

  1. Prema Racing, 174 points
  2. DAMS, 174 points
  3. Russian Time, 165 points
  4. ART Grand Prix, 130 points
  5. Rapax, 61 points
  6. Pertamina Arden Racing, 46 points
  7. MP Motorsport, 43 points
  8. Racing Engineering, 28 points
  9. Campos Racing, 11 points
  10. Trident, 3 points

*With a number of drivers under investigation after the race, these results are provisional