After claiming a seventh consecutive pole position for Prema Racing, Charles Leclerc was looking quick and competitive around the Hungaroring, set for another victory. A breach in regulations however, meant that Leclerc’s lap did not stand in the final result, meaning that Oliver Rowland was promoted to pole to start alongside Artem Markelov while Leclerc would line up in 19th place.
Oliver Rowland wins dramatic F2 Feature Race in Hungary for DAMS
Before the formation lap, Norman Nato’s race fell apart early on. An engine issue meant that he was unable to pull away from his grid slot, which meant that he would have to start from the pit lane once the issue was cleared. After the formation lap, the drivers formed up on the grid ready for the race. Instead of being greeted with the five red lights, the start was aborted for Nabil Jeffri who was out of place on the grid.
After a second formation lap, the race finally got underway and Artem Markelov immediately took the lead from Rowland in turn 1 after getting a better start than the Brit. Jordan King held onto third into the first corner while Nicholas Latifi jumped Antonio Fuoco to move into fourth place. An impressive first lap from Leclerc saw the Monegasque driver put himself into 11th place after starting in 19th.
From the outset, it was clear that Latifi was quick behind the wheel of his DAMS car, attempting to pass King for third around the outside of turn 1 on the second lap. He then set the fastest of the race while shaping up a move on King, performing the overtake on lap 8 to move himself into the podium positions while Nyck de Vries followed the Canadian through to move into fourth.
After following Markelov consistently with a gap of half a second, Rowland pitted on lap 10 with the aim of performing the undercut strategy on the Russian, rejoining in 12th place. Markelov then pitted one lap later onto the medium tyres. When emerging from the pit lane, it became apparent that the strategy that DAMS employed had worked, with Rowland gaining the net lead from Markelov.
At the front of the field, a mammoth battle was emerging between Charles Leclerc and his old GP3 team mate, Alexander Albon, with Leclerc frantically switching to the inside and outside of turns 2, 3, and 4 to try and find a way past the Thai driver. After realising that it would be near impossible to keep Leclerc behind him for much longer, Albon opened the door on lap 15 to hand the championship leader first place in the race.
Oliver Rowland then began to slice his way through the field, passing Louis Deletraz, Sergio Sette Camara, and Albon to move into second place. Markelov then followed Rowland through followed by Latifi.
When Sette Camara overtook Albon, the Brazilian became the man that Markelov and Latifi had to clear to take the fight to Rowland for the net lead of the race. A diving move from Markelov was followed by a more aggressive move from Latifi, with the Canadian punching Camara out of the way, leading to an investigation being held although no further action was taken.
When Rowland was close to Leclerc, the Prema driver pitted on lap 22 for the first time in the race, fitting the faster soft tyres for the closing stages. This handed Rowland the lead.
Leclerc rejoined in 11th place behind Robert Visoiu and Sergio Canamasas, and as he had been stuck behind Visoiu for much of the race, Canamasas’ patience was wearing thin. A diving move into turn 1 with DRS saw the pair collide and crash out of the race, causing the safety car to be deployed on lap 25.
The safety car pitted on lap 27 and the green flag waved. Immediately, Leclerc made his move to try and charge to the podium positions with fresher rubber. The cars concertinaed in turn 1 on the restart, and Leclerc picked up the pieces, passing Luca Ghiotto, Jordan King, and Gustav Malja to move up into sixth.
With the laps winding down, Markelov was running out of time to pass Rowland for the win, and after shaping up the move for a number of laps, finally went for it. Taking to the inside aggressively, Rowland defended the line as hard as he could. With no where to go, Markelov dipped his tyres onto the grass with DRS open, spinning across the race track to smash into the outside wall of turn 1. The action was not over however, and Latifi, who was now second, attempted to pass his team mate in turn 2 for the win. This failed however, and the safety car was deployed followed by the medical car.
After a couple of minutes, Markelov got out of his wrecked Russian Time car and was fine. Rowland crossed the line to score his second win of 2017 while Nicholas Latifi completed a DAMS 1-2 finish. In all of the drama at the end of the race, Nyck de Vries put his Rapax on the final step of the podium.
After starting in 19th place, Charles Leclerc finished in fourth after passing Nobuharu Matsushita in the dying moments of the race. Matsushita came home in fifth followed by Luca Ghiotto in sixth, Norman Nato in seventh, Alexander Albon in eighth, Sean Gelael in ninth, and Santino Ferrucci finishing in tenth on his F2 debut.
At the end of the race, the incident between Rowland and Markelov was under investigation by the stewards, meaning that the Brit may not hold onto his win in the event of him being handed a penalty.
Results from the Hungarian Formula 2 Feature Race:
- Oliver Rowland, DAMS, 25 points
- Nicholas Latifi, DAMS, 18 points
- Nyck de Vries, Rapax, 15 points
- Charles Leclerc, Prema Racing, 12 points
- Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix, 10 points
- Luca Ghiotto, Russian Time, 8 points
- Norman Nato, Pertamina Arden Racing, 6 points
- Alexander Albon, ART Grand Prix, 4 points
- Sean Gelael, Pertamina Arden Racing, 2 points
- Santino Ferrucci, Trident, 1 point
- Jordan King, MP Motorsport, 0 points
- Louis Deletraz, Racing Engineering, 0 points
- Ralph Boschung, Campos Racing, 0 points
- Nabil Jeffri, Trident, 0 points
- Sergio Sette Camara, MP Motorsport, 0 points
- Gustav Malja, Racing Engineering, 0 points
- Artem Markelov, Russian Time, Ret
- Robert Visoiu, Campos Racing, Ret
- Sergio Canamasas, Rapax, Ret
- Antonio Fuoco, Prema Racing, Ret