ART Grand Prix’s Nyck de Vries took his first win of 2019 FIA Formula 2 (F2) Championship season after a solid drive from UNI-Virtuosi Racing’s Luca Ghiotto.

It was a solid start by Renault junior and BWT Arden’s Anthoine Hubert from row two to take the lead of the F2 sprint race at Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, with ART Grand Prix’s Nyck de Vries slotting in second from reverse grid pole-sitter Callum Ilott dropping to third.

The Sauber Junior Team by Charouz had a slight slow getaway which allowed Hubert and de Vries to sneak through. The race was neutralised though after a massive fire on the rear of Carlin’s Nobuharu Matsuhita, requiring a safety car.

The re-start worked well for Hubert as he led de Vries and Ilott but it wasn’t for long as de Vries eventually got through Hubert, who lost another place to Ilott later on. Behind them, UNI-Virtuosi Racing’s Luca Ghiotto was the driver on charge.

He cleared his teammate Guanyu Zhou along with Campos Racing’s Jack Aitken and MP Motorsport’s Jordan King to move up to fourth. Zhou was climbing up as well as he moved to fifth, as King and Aitken lost out to DAMS’ Nicholas Latifi.

Aitken tried a move on King at Turn 1 but the British-Korean racer ran out of the track and lost out to Latifi, who then passed King to be sixth. Behind the pack, Prema’s Mick Schumacher got himself on the tail of points finish in ninth.

As de Vries continued to lead, Ilott’s focus shifted to defend from Ghiotto, who passed Hubert for third with the Frenchman under pressure from Zhou in the end stages. There was no trouble for de Vries though to take the win in Barcelona F2 sprint race.

It is the Dutchman’s first win of 2019 and fifth career victory. The fight for second went down to the wire though as Ferrari junior Ilott couldn’t hold on after Ghiotto passed the British driver around the outside on the final lap to take second.

Meanwhile, Ilott had to settle for third to score his first F2 podium as Zhou passed Hubert to take fourth with Latifi finishing sixth ahead of King – the Canadian also took extra points for fastest lap. There was drama behind though for the final point.

Ferrari junior Schumacher passed Aitken on the final lap but the German did not respect the bollard and was handed a five-second time penalty which dropped him outside the points to 12th as Aitken took the final point in eighth.

The Top 10 was then sealed by Prema’s Sean Gelael and Trident’s Ralph Boschung with Carlin’s Louis Deletraz right on his tail in the end. It was a clean race in the end with no major incidents apart from Matsushita’s fire.

Position 11-19: Deletraz, Schumacher, Tatiana Calderon, Nikita Mazepin, Juan Manuel Correa, Giuliano Alesi, Sergio Sette Camara, Dorian Boccolacci and Mahaveer Raghunathan.

F2: Latifi eases to third win of 2019 at Barcelona from Aitken