FORMULA 2

RUSSELL SOARS TO RACE AND CHAMPIONSHIP VICTORY.

Briton slices through hectic feature for win and title
George Russell claimed the 2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship drivers’ title with his seventh victory of the season in an eventful feature race tonight at the Yas Marina Circuit, losing and then regaining the lead while turmoil reigned behind as he sailed to victory by three seconds over Artem Markelov and Luca Ghiotto.
It was the first night start of the season for the grid, bringing with it pressure of starting in the unknown: Russell made a poor getaway from pole, allowing a fast starting Nyck de Vries to grab the lead at turn one from the championship leader and Markelov, but there was chaos behind as DAMS duo Alexander Albon and Nicholas Latifi stalled, along with Sergio Sette Câmara.
FIA Formula 2 Series – Round 12. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Saturday 24 November 2018. George Russell (GBR, ART Grand Prix), celebrates on the podium. Photo: Glenn Dunbar / FIA Formula 2. ref: Digital Image
Arjun Maini was unable to get around the Canadian and the pair had an enormous impact, with Nirei Fukuzumi being tagged as he went around the stricken cars: with 5 vehicles in various states of undress on the front straight there was no choice but to release the safety car, with the remainder of the field coming through the pits each time around, including the restarted Albon and Sette Câmara, for 5 laps as the marshals cleared a path for them.
When the race went live Russell was pushing de Vries all around the circuit, with Markelov in hot pursuit: both drivers ran heavily over the kerbs in their efforts to gain ground on the man ahead until the Briton headed into the pits on lap 9: an incredible out lap allowed him to blow past de Vries as he exited the pits, and a record-equalling victory was on the cards.
Markelov came in next time around, slotting in right behind de Vries on his return, handing the lead on the road to Ghiotto, one of the few to risk the alternate tyre strategy from P16 on the grid. The Italian had a 24 second lead but the rest of the field were closing, cutting 5 seconds in 6 laps before the gap started to reverse, stretch back out to 24 seconds over the next 6 laps and handing Ghiotto an unexpected opportunity at victory.
Unfortunately for the Italian he ran too deep at the marina chicane just before his stop, picking up a 5 second time penalty for gaining an advantage and undoing his good work: he served it before his team swapped tyres on lap 26, and re-emerged in P5 on fresh rubber. He made short work of Lando Norris and was soon storming after de Vries, who had been unable to contain a charging Markelov a few laps earlier.
On the penultimate lap Ghiotto blew past de Vries at the marina, but ran out of time to improve his podium position: Russell cruised to the win, equalling the F1 feeder record of 7 wins held jointly by Stoffel Vandoorne and Charles Leclerc, by 3s ahead of Markelov, who was almost 5s to the good over Ghiotto at the flag. De Vries was disappointed with P4 ahead of Norris, with Louis Deletraz a second ahead of teammate Antonio Fuoco after he mugged Roberto Merhi for 7th on the final lap, and Tadasuke Makino and Jack Aitken rounding out the points in the final feature race of the season.

GP3

PULCINI VICTORIOUS AS HUBERT CROWNED CHAMPION

Italian soars to 2nd win, Frenchman celebrates on podium

Leonardo Pulcini claimed his second victory of the season in fine style in this afternoon’s Race 1 at Yas Marina Circuit, fighting off an early challenge before powering all the way to the flag for a popular win, but most eyes were focussed a little further back as Anthoine Hubert did everything he needed to claim the final GP3 Series drivers’ title before easing off at the end to finish on the podium behind David Beckmann.

GP3 Series – Round 9.Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Saturday 24 November 2018. Leonardo Pulcini (ITA, Campos Racing) Photo: Joe Portlock / GP3 Series Media Service. ref: Digital Image

Temperatures were soaring as the lights went out, with poleman and title challenger Nikita Mazepin unable to match Pulcini’s glorious getaway: the Russian cut straight across to cover the challenge, and although Hubert made a strong start he was in no position to risk a move at turn 1 and fell into line behind the front row starters but ahead of Callum Ilott, who mugged teammate Jake Hughes at the first corner, Beckmann and Ryan Tveter.

Pulcini knew he had an advantage, and he played it almost immediately: the Italian outdragged Mazepin on the long back straight for the lead, with Beckmann copying the move on Hughes for P5. The Russian was not finished though, knowing that he needed victory to keep his title hopes alive, and he pushed Pulcini before outbraking for the lead at the marina on lap 4, but a slightly wide line at the hotel complex on the next lap allowed the Italian back into P1.

GP3 Series – Round 9. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Saturday 24 November 2018. David Beckmann (DEU, Trident), Leonardo Pulcini (ITA, Campos Racing), Anthoine Hubert (FRA, ART Grand Prix) Photo: Zak Mauger / GP3 Series Media Service. ref: Digital Image

Mazepin tried the marina move once again on lap 6, but Pulcini was alert to the danger: the Russian went too deep and ran off, but in his hurry to restart the battle he missed the bollard around which he needed to rejoin the track, and the subsequent 10 second time penalty effectively ended his title run.

If the move meant that the front runners could focus on preserving their cars and tyres, further back there was more action to be had: Beckmann run through Ilott at the marina for P4 on lap 9, while Giuliano Alesi started his progression up the points by claiming Tveter’s scalp behind him, while a lap later Hughes repaid his teammate by outbraking Ilott for P5. Beckmann and Hughes squabbled over P4 for a few laps before the German could finally pull away and focus on the target ahead in the closing laps.

With the title in his pocket Hubert had no reason to fight too hard for P3, particularly as it was coming back to him at the end of the race, and gave way to Beckmann at the marina chicane on the final lap, but up front Pulcini was greeted by the flag some 8.6 seconds ahead of the German and the 2018 GP3 Champion, with Ilott hanging on for 4th and Mazepin, who was 2nd on the road before his penalty, was handed P5 ahead of a charging Alesi, who mugged Hughes on the penultimate lap, with Juan Manuel Correa surviving a late squabble for P8 and tomorrow’s pole with Simo Laaksonen and Tatiana Calderon.