Charles Leclerc showed just why he is the 2017 Formula 2 champion when he produced a scintillating come-from-behind performance to win the final race of the series at Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday.
Starting the 22-lap sprint seventh on the grid, Leclerc picked his way through the field to claim third place after 14 laps and second after 18.
But it was a thrilling last-lap surge that carried him past race leader Alex Albon and on to his second sprint race victory of the season to add to the five he has taken in the longer feature races.
The two cars had touched through Turns 6 and 7, then Leclerc produced a copy-book move into Turn 8 at the end of Yas Marina’s 1.2-km main straight to take the lead at just the right time.
When feature race podium finishers Ollie Rowland and Antonio Fuoco were both disqualified from those results for technical infringements, Artem Markelov claimed Saturday’s victory.
That decision took some of the sting out of the chase for the teams’ title, which started the weekend with Prema two points clear of Dams with Russian Time just four points further adrift.
In the end Markelov’s Saturday win, then his sixth-place Sunday finish with teammate Luca Ghiotto fifth secured the crown for Russia Time on 395 points to Prema’s 380.
— FIA Formula 2 (@FIA_F2) November 26, 2017
With the top eight from Saturday’s race reversed on the grid for Sunday’s it was it MP Motorsport’s Jordan King who started from pole, but the 23-year-old Englishman was swamped at the start by Alex Albon and Nobuharu Matsushita, with Nicholas Latifi forcing his DAMS entry between those two on the opening lap.
King had a dismal afternoon, dropping down the order, picking up a puncture and eventually retiring as 17 of the 20 cars made it to the finish.
But he had the small consolation of setting fastest race lap of 1:51.315, an average of 179.619, on lap 6.
Elsewhere, Dorian Boccolacci posted his first victory of 2017 in the final GP3 race as Trident Racing completed a 1-2 finish.
With ART Grand Prix’s George Russell already champion, the main focus in the 14-lap sprint race was on who would finish runner-up to the English driver.
With the top eight from Saturday’s feature race in reverse order on the grid, and with ART Grand Prix’s fourth driver Anthoine Hubert penalised five seconds for failing to slow down under the Virtual Safety Car in that race, it was American Ryan Tveter who started from pole for Trident.
But 19-year-old Frenchman Boccolacci was past his team-mate within two laps and stayed ahead of him to win by 5.5 seconds, adding a sprint-race victory to his two Sunday podiums in Catalunya at the start of the year and Jerez last time out.
Third in an eventful race was Daniel Ticktum, who had his #14 DAMS up into second place at one stage but was penalized five seconds for leaving the track and gaining an advantage when he passed Arden’s Steijn Schothorst on lap 8.
Russell survived an early off-track moment to pounce for fourth place when feature race winner Nico Kari of Arden and Schothorst tangled near the finish claim fourth ahead of the fast-finishing Hubert and the recovering Kari.
Hubert finished fourth overall on 123 points to make it a clean sweep for ART Grand Prix, whose final margin of victory in the teams’ standings was a stunning 306 points ahead of Trident.
— FIA Formula 2 (@FIA_F2) October 7, 2017
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