A chaotic rain-interrupted FIA Formula 2 Championship feature race at Paul Ricard saw ART’s George Russell win from Carlin’s Sergio Sette Camara and MP Motorsport’s Roberto Merhi.
It was mayhem at the start of the race with the rain starting to fall on the formation lap. Russell got off the line fine from pole with DAMS’ Alexander Albon and Camara behind – the Top 3 staying out of trouble with drivers struggling behind to hold on.
It was once again multiple stalls with Carlin’s Lando Norris, Russian Time’s Artem Markelov and Trident’s Santino Ferrucci the victims. To add, Charouz Racing’s Antonio Fuoco was handed a stop and go penalty for an extra personnel on the grid.
The slippery circuit caught out a lot of drivers especially DAMS’ Nicholas Latifi who bogged down as a result. Campos’ Roy Nissany had a 360 spin whereas many had to take the escape route as an evasive action in their battles.
Few of the drivers then took a gamble to stop for wet tyres – it included ART’s Jack Aitken, Norris and Nissany but to their bad luck it stopped raining with the conditions changing quickly. They were forced to pit again, thereby limiting their chances of any points.
Meanwhile, Russell survived multiple VSC’s to get a clear run at the front. A late stop meant he was ahead, but soon Camara started to claw into the British driver’s lead. The returning Carlin driver was all over the Mercedes junior in the last few laps.
However, Russell kept his cool to win a thrilling race from the Brazilian with Merhi putting in another solid drive to take his second podium of the season. The Spaniard made 11 places from 14th to third after some hefty fights in treacherous conditions.
Some way off was Campos’ Luca Ghiotto in fourth, while Ferrari junior Fuoco had an absolute belter finishing fifth despite having to do the two stops. The Italian managed to even overtake late-stopper Prema’s Nyck de Vries.
The Dutchman left it late for his pit stop which perhaps cost him some crucial time in the end. Charouz Racing’s merry run continued with Louis Deletraz in seventh ahead of Latifi, who fought back well from an early spin.
The Force India driver managed to overtake Russian Time’s Tadasuke Makino in the end for eighth place, while the second Japanese driver Arden’s Nirei Fukuzumi completed the Top 10. Just outside the points scoring position was Trident’s Arjun Maini.
The Indian also stopped late and cleared Aitken but was quite a way off from Fukuzumi so as to try a move. Championship leader Norris could only managed 17th, finishing a lap down while Albon had another disappointing result due to mechanical issues.
Positions 11-17: Maini, Aitken, Maximilian Gunther, Ferrucci, Markelov, Nissany and Norris. DNF: Albon, Ralph Boschung and Sean Gelael.
UPDATE: Following post-race investigation, Merhi has been disqualified from the race due to tyre pressure infringement. It ‘failed to comply with the tyre pressure specifications’ as per the technical report.
It further added that ‘all four tyres were below the minimum tyre pressures specified by the tyre manufacturer’. As a result, Ghiotto was promoted to third, followed by Fuoco, de Vries, Deletraz, Latifi, Makino, Fukuzumi and Maini completing the Top 10.