L&T Motorsport

Leclerc claims Formula 2 victory in Barcelona

Championship leader Charles Leclerc picked up where he left off in Bahrain, taking an assured victory in Barcelona’s Formula 2 feature race. In a thrilling opening lap, Leclerc instantly came under attack from Luca Ghiotto in the Russian Time as the pair exchanged overtaking manoeuvres several times before the Monegasque driver settled into the lead. Leclerc’s Prema teammate, Antonio Fuoco tried a move around the outside of Artem Markelov in the early stages, but found his front wing chopped as the Russian drifted out forcing a second lap pit-stop. Fuoco wasn’t alone in losing bodywork early on as Johnny Cecotto got on the brakes too late and took a spin in the opening laps. Alexander Albon ghosted past Ghiotto down the long start-finish straight and he and race-leader Leclerc began to pull away from the field. The soft tyre runners began ditching their rubber for the harder compound as early as the seventh lap but shortly afterwards, the Trident of home driver Sergio Canamasas came to a grinding halt in the middle of the track signalling the arrival of the safety car. That played into the hands of Leclerc who had already made his pit stop. At the restart, the runners on the newer hard tyres began urgently slicing through those who had been on the compound since the start and there were some dicey moments for Leclerc and Ghiotto as they tried to weave their way through the field without contact. Although compromised by the safety car, on lap 22, Oliver Rowland eventually forced his way past Albon as the leading pair on track, still on their original hard-compound tyres, battled for the position as Leclerc and Ghiotto continued to slice their way through the midfield. The true order of the race started to become clear around lap 26 as the out of position drivers began to make their stops, taking on fresh soft-compound tyres for the final stages. It signalled a charge from those who had started on the harder compound and resisted the change for the longest, Oliver Rowland and Albon leading the challenge. Rowland managed to work his way up to finish in third place, edging out Nobuharu Matsushita on the penultimate lap. Albon had to settle for fifth, ahead of Nicholas Latifi and Gustav Malja, with Artem Markelov wrestling reverse pole from Jordan King on the final lap, leaving Ralph Boshcung to collect the final point.

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