Charles Leclerc wins in Silverstone despite early race issues

Following the Formula 2 Feature Race at Silverstone, Chris Soulsby looks at Charles Leclerc's fifth win of 2017 for Prema Racing.

After claiming a sixth consecutive pole by almost half a second, Charles Leclerc was looking competitive heading to the Silverstone round of the 2017 Formula 2 Season. With home favourite Oliver Rowland starting alongside him in second however, the Brit was looking to beat Leclerc to revive his championship challenge.

Charles Leclerc wins in Silverstone despite early race issues

The grid formed up waiting for the lights to go out, and instead of five red lights, the field of 20 were greeted with two yellow lights, notifying an aborted start. This was for Nyck de Vries who lost power when pulling into his grid slot while Alexander Albon and Callum Ilott also stalled. After one more formation lap however, the five red lights went on and quickly went out and the field raced into turn 1 headed up by Leclerc and Norman Nato after Rowland had a slow getaway.

Nobuharu Matsushita had the best start of any driver on the grid however, and found himself up to fifth place after starting in eighth. He quickly fell down to six when Artem Markelov passed him in turn 5.

By the third lap, Leclerc had a one second lead from Nato, breaking out of range from DRS when it was activated that lap. One man who failed to do so however, was Sergio Sette Camara, who was overtaken by Luca Ghiotto using DRS for ninth place, later slipping down to tenth when Sean Gelael also overtook.

By lap 5, Leclerc led by five seconds while graining began to plague those who started the race on the soft tyre. This allowed Matsushita to benefit, being the highest placed runner on the slower hard compound tyre, regaining fifth place form Artem Markelov.

Nato then darted into the pits and Rowland followed him in along with Jordan King, Markelov, and Nicholas Latifi, completing their mandatory pit stops as early as possible.

Drama then struck Leclerc who was out in front, with smoke bellowing out the back of his Prema. It looked as if the Monégasque driver’s race was over as he pitted on lap 7. However, when he switched to the harder rubber for his second stint, the issue stopped and he was able to resume his race after rejoining in fifth.

The battle for the net second place in the race then erupted between Nato and Rowland when the DAMS racer began eyeing up a move on the Frenchman. Nato then defended in the only way that he could – by setting the fastest lap. The pair passed Callum Ilott to move into sixth and seventh while Leclerc passed Alexander Albon for fourth place, closing in on Matsushita by over one second per lap.

When Markelov passed King, Leclerc set the fastest lap of the race and began to close on Robert Visoiu while Norman Nato and Oliver Rowland cleared Albon for fifth and sixth.

Leclerc, Nato, and Rowland then cleared Visoiu for third, fourth, and fifth place as the net race leader’s wing mirror fell off while driving down the hangar straight.

Nobuharu Matsushita and Ralph Boschung pitted from first and second on lap 21 and lap 22, allowing Leclerc to once again take the lead.

In the closing stages of the race, Luca Ghiotto started to close in on Jordan King, battling the Brit hard out on track as King defended furiously from the Italian racer. Ghiotto launched an attack into the loop on lap 26 and came out on top to take sixth place.

Leclerc then crossed the line on lap 28 to take the checkered flag and claim his fifth win of 2017. Nato held off Rowland to come home in second place while Rowland rounded out the podium positions in third, disappointed for not getting a better result at his home race.

Artem Markelov headed up the rest of the points paying positions in fourth place, followed by Sergio Canamasas, Luca Ghiotto, Jordan King, Nicholas Latifi, Sean Gelael, and Nobuharu Matsushita.

Results from the British Formula 2 Feature Race:

  1. Charles Leclerc, Prema Racing, 25 points
  2. Norman Nato, Pertamina Arden Racing, 18 points
  3. Oliver Rowland, DAMS, 15 points
  4. Artem Markelov, Russian Time, 12 points
  5. Sergio Canamasas, Rapax, 10 points
  6. Luca Ghiotto, Russian Time, 8 points
  7. Jordan King, MP Motorsport, 6 points
  8. Nicholas Latifi, DAMS, 4 points
  9. Sean Gelael, Pertamina Arden Racing, 2 points
  10. Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix, 1 point
  11. Ralph Boschung, Campos Racing, 0 points
  12. Louis Delétraz, Racing Engineering, 0 points
  13. Sergio Sette Camara, MP Motorsport, 0 points
  14. Gustav Malja, Racing Engineering, 0 points
  15. Nabil Jeffri, Trident, 0 points
  16. Antonio Fuoco, Prema Racing, 0 points
  17. Robert Visoiu, Campos Racing, 0 points
  18. Alexander Albon, ART Grand Prix, 0 points
  19. Callum Ilott, Trident, 0 points
  20. Nyck de Vries, Rapax, Ret

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