ROAD TO F1: Russell and Ilott shine in second leg of triple header
Austria marked the halfway stage of a thoroughly-exciting Formula 2 season, and it was yet another incident-packed race. It wasn’t the only action either, with the GP3 talents taking to the Red Bull Ring for their third round of the season. The second part of this triple header was great for some, while others will be desperate to bounce back at Silverstone…
F2 FEATURE RACE
George Russell wins – that’s been a regular phrase in Road to F1 in 2018. And we’ve had to use it again this week, after the ART Grand Prix driver triumphed for the fourth time this season in what is proving to be a tight Formula 2 championship.
And again, it was another demonstration of his raw talent. The Mercedes junior, starting on pole, was forced to defend his position early on when attacked by Lando Norris, and soon after, he had to fight his way through the field to retake the lead after coming in for the mandatory stop on Lap 6, earlier than most of his rivals.
Mission accomplished, though. He turned his pole to victory, with fellow Briton Norris overtaking Roberto Merhi in the closing stages of the race to secure second place, while Antonio Fuoco replicated Norris’ move on the final lap to claim the final place on the podium.
Away from the top three, Artem Markelov produced another remarkable display of overtaking, including passing three cars in one corner (as shown below). Maximilian Gunther, Nicholas Latifi and Santino Ferrucci were those three casualties, with the Russian ultimately finishing eighth to secure reverse-grid pole for the Sprint Race.
The race may have got off to a slow opening, having started behind the Safety Car for a single-file rolling start – but it soon got exciting. And Russell won’t forget it in a hurry...
F2 SPRINT RACE
Fresh from his overtaking exploits on Saturday, Markelov had an even better result a day later by completing a routine victory in Austria’s Sprint Race. And while it was a good day for one British driver, it was one to forget for a close rival…
Similar to the Formula 1 teams in Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix, the Russian Time driver had to look after his Pirelli tyres in the hot conditions. He did so in impressive fashion to claim a dominant victory, leading every lap to take home his third victory of the year.
Behind him, Russell followed up on his Feature Race win by finishing second in this second race. It was yet another fine drive from the Briton, who climbed from eighth on the grid to third after just three laps.
Sergio Sette Camara completed the podium but his Carlin team mate Norris, who had been leading the championship ahead of this Austria showdown, had a tough weekend. Starting seventh, the highly-rated teenager struggled for grip in the latter stages to finish down in 11th – only the second time this season he has finished in the top ten.
He’ll be pleased to know he won’t have to wait long to bounce back – the next edition is this weekend, and it’s his home race…
GP3 FEATURE RACE
There’s a reason Callum Ilott is rated highly by Ferrari, and the Briton displayed his undoubted potential in the GP3 opener at the Red Bull Ring by taking a lights-to-flag win. In what was his second win of this season, the Art Grand Prix driver came home 4.5s ahead of Campos’ Leonardo Pulcini with Trident's Alessio Lorandi making up the podium.
GP3 SPRINT RACE
Austria was certainly a weekend to remember for British drivers, with Jake Hughes earning his first win of the GP3 season ahead of Pedro Piquet and third-placed Leonardo Pulcini. As shown below, the race got off to a chaotic start when the top three starters - David Beckmann, Ryan Tveter and Giuliano Alesi - were wiped out on the first lap. It was by no means a straightforward triumph as Piquet pushed Hughes all the way, but the Briton held on to register a well-deserved win.
DRIVER OF THE WEEKEND - Callum Ilott
It was a close call between Russell and Ilott, but we think the latter deserves our award this week for his exploits in GP3. The young Briton gave us a glimpse of his racing prowess in France, where he was made to work hard for the win. This time in Austria, he secured pole in a fiercely-contested qualifying session, before leading every lap in the race and ultimately cruising to a win. We’re certainly excited to see how he develops this season.
THE KEY QUOTE
“No, it wasn’t at all (an easy win) – the degradation of the supersoft tyres at the start was absolutely enormous and after about the first lap and a half I was sliding all over the place. I thought I was really struggling, and I looked in my mirrors and Lando was really struggling as well, so the first half of the race was really tricky.” – George Russell, pictured below leading the F2 Feature Race.
Norris had led the championship since the opening round in Bahrain, but after six rounds of a 12-race season, it is Russell who leads the way heading to the next edition. Markelov’s win in the sprint race moves him up to third while Albon and Sette Camara make up the top five.
The top five in F2
|3||Artem Markelov||Russian Time||94|
|5||Sergio Sette Camara||Carlin||86|
We have a new leader in GP3 too, with driver of the weekend Ilott jumping above Anthoine Hubert in the standings. It’s certainly close at the top, with just eight points splitting Ilott and third-placed Pulcini.
The top five in GP3
|3||Leonardo Pulcini||Campos Racing||61|
You’ll also be pleased to know that you don’t have to wait long for the next round of action… Formula 2 and GP3 are back at the British Grand Prix this weekend in support of Formula 1 from July 6-8.
For more information on the FIA Formula 2 Championship, click here.