Formula 2 headed to Monza this weekend for the ninth round of the 2017 season. After Artem Markelov set the pace in practice, it looked to be an untypical difficult weekend for Prema Racing. This was proved in qualifying when Nobuharu Matsushita claimed pole position for ART Grand Prix, with Charles Leclerc only managing seventh on the grid for the Feature Race.
Luca Ghiotto leads Italian 1-2 to win Monza Feature Race
With it raining all day in Monza on Saturday, it was going to be a wet Feature Race. The race started under the safety car, however, once the FIA found the conditions to be good enough to race in, the field lined up for a standing start in the wet. A stall for Santonio Ferrucci saw another formation lap, but once the field formed back up, the race was quickly under way.
Nyck de Vries led into Turn 1 while Matsushita had a slow getaway from pole. This meant that he got shuffled back a few positions. When Markelov missed his braking point, he ran into the side of De Vries which meant that he broke his front wing. The Dutch driver held onto the lead despite behind hit from behind. Amidst all of this carnage, Leclerc had a strong start and put himself into third place.This quickly became second when the Monegasque driver passed Matsushita at the end of the first lap.
Outside of the top three positions, Louis Deletraz was struggling for pace and was passed by Roberto Merhi for fourth while Oliver Rowland also overtook to move into fifth after starting in 13th. A mammoth battle then happened out on track as Rowland tried to pass Merhi in front of him. This went on for some laps but the Briton managed to clear the Spaniard on lap 6, and with clear air in front of him, closed up on and passed Matsushita to move onto the podium.
Luca Ghiotto then also began to make his way through the pack, passing Merhi and Matsushita to tuck up behind Rowland in fourth place.
With clean air, Rowland began to set fastest lap after fastest lap to close up to the leaders. The pit window was open and the field began to come in to make a switch to a new set of wet tyres. Leclerc pitted on lap 18 from second to try and perform the undercut on De Vries, and to cover the Monegasque driver off, Racing Engineering pitted the leader one lap later. Rowland also followed him in.
After the pit stops, De Vries emerged as the leader and Leclerc failed to gain a position. Rowland rejoined in third however, the yellow flags waved when the driver ground to a halt in the second sector during his out lap, with his left rear tyre not being fitted correctly.
The safety car was deployed on lap 19 so the marshals could clear up Rowland’s stricken DAMS car, and when it was confirmed that the race would be resumed with two laps to go, the field formed up for the re-start.
When the green flag waved there was a two lap sprint to the finish and Leclerc sat in the slipsteam of De Vries to close in and try and pass the Dutch driver into Turn 1. On the outside of the corner, Leclerc locked up and took to the escape road, handing back the lead after the illegal overtake. This allowed Ghiotto to move into second place and later first when the Italian driver launched a successful attack on De Vries into Turn 3.
With one lap to go, De Vries again closed up to Ghiotto and it was drag race down to Turn 1. Like Leclerc one lap earlier, Ghiotto also went off into the first corner which allowed De Vries to regain the lead and Leclerc regain second. Going into Turn 2, the De Vries and Leclerc collided however, and the latter slapped the wall hard. De Vries picked up a puncture and Ghiotto, who looked like he had thrown the win away, regained first.
Ghiotto held off Antonio Fuoco to win his home race, heading up an Italian 1-2 finish. Nobuharu Matsushita recovered to stand on the final step of the podium after starting from pole.
Behind the podium positions, the points finishers were Nicholas Latifi, Alexander Albon, Sean Gelael, Sergio Sette Camara, Deletraz, Gustav Malja and Marelov. By finishing in eighth, Deletraz secured reverse grid pole for Sunday’s Sprint Race, meaning that he will start from the front row of the grid for Rapax.
Results from the Italian Formula 2 Feature Race:
- Luca Ghiotto, Russian Time, 25 points
- Antonio Fuoco, Prema Racing, 18 points
- Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix, 15 points
- Nicholas Latifi, DAMS, 12 points
- Alexander Albon, ART Grand Prix, 10 points
- Sean Gelael, Pertamina Arden Racing, 8 ponts
- Sergio Sette Camara, MP Motorsport, 6 points
- Louis Deletraz, Rapax, 4 points
- Gustav Malja, Racing Engineering, 2 points
- Artem Markelov, Russian Time, 1 point
- Jordan King, MP Motorsport, 0 points
- Roberto Merhi, Rapax, 0 points
- Nabil Jeffri, Trident, 0 points
- Norman Nato, Pertamina Arden Racing, 0 points
- Ralph Boschung, Campos Racing, 0 points
- Robert Visoiu, Campos Racing, 0 points
- Charles Leclerc, Prema Racing, 0 points
- Nyck de Vries, Racing Engineering, 0 points
- Oliver Rowland, DAMS, Ret
- Santino Ferrucci, Trident, Ret