Charles Leclerc has taken another win on a Saturday race. This time, some drivers running an alternative strategy, smoke coming from his engine and a broken mirror haven’t been enough to stop him. His gap on the standings is now of 63 points. Nato and Rowland complete the podium.
The start got aborted due to problems for Nyck De Vries, Callum Ilott and Alex Albon. The Thai and the British driver would start from Pit Lane, but the Dutch didn’t even take part in the race.
Race started with one more warm-up lap and one less race lap. Poleman Charles Leclerc kept his lead, with Norman Nato improving to second place, Oliver Rowland third and Jordan King fourth. Behind them there was a group fighting for 5th place with Artem Markelov, Nobuharu Matsushita (who started with hard tyres) and Sergio Canamasas.
Leclerc did like every other Saturday and opened a gap with a dominant pace. Nato was driving at ‘no man’s land’ and Rowland was being quite slow, which caused that King and Matsushita got close to him. On lap 6, Nato, Rowland, King and Markelov were the first drivers from top places to pit.
At the same time, Leclerc‘s car started to spread smoke, it seemed an engine problem, but the Monaco driver wasn’t losing speed. He pitted on lap 7 and returned to track without any problem. After the pit stops, positions didn’t change, but Leclerc was fifth since the first four, with Matsushita on the lead, hadn’t stopped.
On lap 13, Leclerc, who didn’t have any problem, overtook the last of the drivers that hadn’t pitted, Albon. On lap 15, Markelov passed King for 8th place (4th when everyone pitted). Nato and Rowland also overtook Albon. The hard-soft strategy was shown to be a disaster and Albon finally pitted on lap 18.
Leclerc wouldn’t take long to overtake Robert Visoiu, who was on the same strategy as Albon. Ralph Boschung, who was second, pitted on lap 20, and Matsushita did it on the next lap and Leclerc returned to the lead. On lap 23, Canamasas overtook King for fifth place.
First five places seemed consolidated, despite of Canamasas getting close to Markelov, but, behind them, Luca Ghiotto caught and passed King for sixth position. The British was having a very slow pace and Nicholas Latifi and Sean Gelael were getting close to him.
Race finished like that and Leclerc took his fifth win of the season. Once more, he has had no rival after starting on Pole and has been very dominating. Nato, who is becoming more and more regular, finished second with Rowland third. Markelov, Canamasas (who gets his best result this year), Ghiotto, King, Latifi, Gelael and Matsushita complete the Top 10.
With these results, Leclerc is still leading the championship, now with 180 points. Second and third, and very likely to be the second place contenders, are Rowland and Markelov, with 117 and 111 points, respectively. Latifi is fourth with 76 points and Ghiotto is fifth with 74. Next race will be held tomorrow, with Latifi starting from first place.