Nyck de Vries wins Formula 2 Sprint Race in Monaco

Formula 2 returned once again this weekend for the second race of Round 3 of the championship. In this article, Chris Soulsby looks at Nyck de Vries' maiden Formula 2 win for Rapax.

Formula 2 returned once again this weekend for the second race of Round 3 of the 2017 Season at the Circuit de Monaco. The Feature Race saw Oliver Rowland secure his maiden Formula 2 win for DAMS while home favorite, Charles Leclerc, retired after starting on pole and suffering from a suspension failure after leading for much of the race. The Sprint Race in Monaco saw the field reversed, with Johnny Cecotto starting from pole position and F2 rookie, Nyck de Vries, starting in second place, marking an all Rapax front row.

Nyck de Vries wins Formula 2 Sprint Race in Monaco

When the illuminated lights flashed out, the field pulled away for the sixth race of the 2017 Formula 2 Season, and there was quickly a lead change as Nyck de Vries got a better start than his team mate, launching himself into first place into turn 1. Gustav Malja followed the pair through in third place while Luca Ghiotto held onto  fourth going into the first corner.

Quickly, de Vries started to pull away from Cecotto, setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 3, extending his lead to 1.6 seconds and breaking the DRS barrier.

At the same time further down the field, championship leader Leclerc proved that overtaking is possible around the streets of Monaco, passing Nicholas Latifi and Louis Deletraz going into the iconic Rascasse corner. Disaster then struck on lap 4 for Leclerc when he attempted to overtake his off-track friend and on-track rival, Norman Nato, clipping the Frenchman’s rear right tyre while trying to perform a similar move like he did on Latifi and Deletraz. This forced Nato out of the race and caused Lecerc to be handed a 10 second time penalty to be added onto his race time.

At the front of the field, the real battle looming out on track was the battle for the fastest lap after de Vries was continuing to extend his lead. The honors of fastest lap went from driver to driver, with Nobuharu Matsushita claiming it on lap 5, Alexander Albon claiming it on lap 7, and Artem Markelov finally settling the dispute on lap 9.

Sergio Canamasas followed in the footsteps of Leclerc, overtaking Antonio Fuoco for tenth place. Further overtakes then followed, with Nabil Jeffri overtaking Sean Geleael for 13th place on lap 12 and Formula 2 newcomer Robert Visoiu overtaking Louis Deletraz on lap 13 into the Fairmont hairpin.

At half race distance, Ralph Boschung retired from the race on lap 15 after having a mechanical failure on his Campos car, making him the the second casualty of the Sprint Race.

At the front of the pack, Nyck de Vries continued to extend his lead, having a 4.3 second gap to Cecotto. This was extended when Cecotto hit difficulty, lapping in the late 1:25s while de Vries was lapping in the 1:23s, putting the Venezuelan driver under pressure from third placed driver, Gustav Malja.

The battle then intensified for fifth place as Artem Markelov began closing in on Alexander Albon, trying to make a move on the Thai driver in turn 1 on lap 20. Markelov thought twice about this however, and kept close to the back of the ART Grand Prix car in front of him, lunging up the inside of Rascasse at the end of lap 20 and moving into fifth place, advancing his way up the field after starting in seventh.

Latifi then got his revenge on Leclerc, passing the Monégasque driver up the inside of Massanet. Leclerc then snatched the position back from the Canadian, holding on to what was left of a disappointing weekend that marked his home race. Latifi then retook Lecerc’s position into the Nouvelle chicane, lunging up the inside late on the brakes after following the Prema driver closely through the tunnel. Leclerc later retired from the race on lap 22 with a points finish looking unlikely, marking a double DNF for the Ferrari Driver Academy member this weekend.

With a train of cars forming up behind Cecotto, the field was tightly bunched up going into the final few laps, putting the remaining podium positions up for grabs to Luca Ghiotto and Artem Markelov with the two Russian Time drivers closing in on Cecotto and Malja at a rate of knots.

In a final attempt to progress up the field, the yellow flags waved for Sergio Canamasas in the final sector after the Trident driver rear ended ninth placed Oliver Rowland with three laps to go after an attempted pass into Rascasse.

On lap 30, Nyck de Vries crossed the line for the final time, securing his first Formula 2 win of 2017 and the first of his career, becoming the fifth different winner of the six races of the 2017 Season so far whilst Johnny Cecotto crossed the line in second place, securing a 1-2 finish for Rapax.

Gustav Malja held onto third place to secure his first podium finish for Racing Engineering and his first podium finish of 2017.

The two Russian Time drivers of Luca Ghiotto and Artem Markelov crossed the line next in fourth and fifth, marking another successful outing for the two drivers and yet another points finish for Ghiotto, with the Italian being only one of two drivers this year to finish in the points in every race so far.

Alexander Albon led his team mate, Nobuharu Matushita, across the line, finishing in sixth place and heading up a double points finish for ART Grand Prix.

Jordan King rounded out the points in eighth place, securing his sixth points finish of the season for MP Motorsport.

Oliver Rowland finished in ninth place after winning Friday’s Feature Race, meaning that he has not taken the championship lead from Leclerc this weekend, leaving a three point gap between the two rivals.

Formula 2 will return to support Formula 1 at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix from June 23rd – June 25th. Last year’s race in Azerbaijan saw Antonio Giovinazzi secure his maiden GP2 win for Prema Racing after showing viewers an overtaking masterclass, launching his championship campaign against his team mate, Pierre Gasly. Will we see something like this again in four weeks? We willfind out when Formula 2 returns for the fourth round of the 2017 Season.

Results from the Monaco Formula 2 Sprint Race:

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

Drivers Standings after Monaco:

  1. Charles Leclerc, Prema Racing, 77 points
  2. Oliver Rowland, DAMS, 74 points
  3. Artem Markelov, Russian Time, 60 points
  4. Luca Ghiotto, Russian Time, 54 points
  5. Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix, 48 points
  6. Alexander Albon, ART Grand Prix, 37 points
  7. Jordan King, MP Motorsport, 29 points
  8. Nicholas Latifi, DAMS, 28 points
  9. Gustav Malja, Racing Engineering, 28 points
  10. Nyck de Vries, Rapax, 27 points
  11. Norman Nato, Pertamina Arden Racing, 18 points
  12. Johnny Cecotto Jr, Rapax, 16 points
  13. Antonio Fuoco, Prema Racing, 2 points
  14. Sergio Canamasas, Trident, 1 point
  15. Louis Deletraz, Racing Engineering, 0 points
  16. Nabil Jeffri, Trident, 0 points
  17. Ralph Boschung, Campos Racing, 0 points
  18. Sean Gelael, Pertamina Arden Racing, 0 points
  19. Roberto Merhi, Campos Racing, 0 points
  20. Sergio Sette Camara, MP Motorsport, 0 points
  21. Stefano Coletti, Campos Racing, 0 points
  22. Robert Visoiu, Campos Racing, 0 points

Team Standings after Monaco:

  1. Russian Time, 116 points
  2. DAMS, 102 points
  3. ART Grand Prix, 85 points
  4. Prema Racing, 79 points
  5. Rapax, 43 points
  6. MP Motorsport, 29 points
  7. Racing Engineering, 28 points
  8. Pertamina Arden Racing, 18 points
  9. Trident, 1 point
  10. Campos Racing, 0 points

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