Prema Racing Charles Leclerc is on fire. After claiming pole position yesterday, he just conquered his second back-to-back Formula 2 victory with an accomplished strategy and faultless driving. Italian Luca Guiotto (Russian Time) wound up second, clear of Oliver Rowland (Dams), who brought excitement to the race.
Most teams put their bets on starting on hard tyres, but a small bunch of drivers –Leclerc and Guiotto among them- chose the soft compound and planned for an early stop in the 37-lap race. Their strategy hit the spot, as the Safety Car was called in in lap 10, after local driver Sergio Canamasas’ car got stranded in the middle of the track with an electric failure amidst his battle to get into the top 10.
The pack bunched up, and the few drivers who had already pitted racked up a substantial advantage. Two distinct groups were created after the restart, both of them on the hard tyre. While the frontrunners were forced to pit, further back the battle for podium was fought between those who had the compulsory tyre change on their backs, i.e., Leclerc, Guiotto, King and Matsushita.
The French upcomer excelled in managing the race, choosing well when it was best attack and when to hold back. Leclerc -reigning GP3 champion and signed up in Ferrari’s Driver Academy- kept a cool head despite his short age and climbed back to contention to conquer the lead with 8 laps to go.
Giotto, Matsushita and Albon sat behind him, while Rowland was at the top of his game and put up some amazing final laps. The Dams Briton disposed of a few rivals and charged through the field to a well-deserved third place.
Russian driver Artem Markelov was also in the pace. He posted the fastest lap and worked his way up to 8th fastest, earning pole position for the second race, scheduled for tomorrow at 10.35 am. The top 8 men today will take the start in reverse order for a thrilling battle.
Local rookie Roberto Merhi (Campos Racing) was unlucky. He retired with a flat tyre after Italian Antonio Fuoco run into him with 18 laps to go, while he was working his way up the field. He will try to come back tomorrow in the 26-lap race.