|2018 Baku Feature Race|
The Baku City Circuit for 2018.
|Date||28 April 2018|
|Event||2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix|
|Location||Baku City Circuit Baku, Azerbaijan|
|Lap length||6.003km (3.730mi)|
|Distance||29 laps / 174.087km (108.173mi)|
|Pole Sitter||Alexander Albon|
|Team||Charouz Racing System|
|Time||1:57.409 on lap 23|
|Alexander Albon||Jack Aitken||Antonio Fuoco|
|Bahrain Sprint||Baku Sprint|
Qualifying had seen Albon claim pole position in an equally manic session, as Maximilian Günther and Nicholas Latifi both managed to bring out red flags. Indeed, it was the latter's spin that ultimately secured Albon's pole position, with Latifi managing to block the circuit at turn seven with two minutes to go.
It was George Russell who briefly claimed the lead at the start, just getting around the outside of Albon through turn one, before Albon shot away on the exit. Russell's start had been made by the absence of Lando Norris from the front row, for the Championship leader had stalled on the formation lap.
The first safety car of the afternoon would be called at the end of the opening lap, for Luca Ghiotto had lost control and slammed into the barriers at turn sixteen. After a few slow laps the race restarted on lap five, with Albon under constant pressure from Russell.
It was the aforementioned Russell who then opened the pitwindow, stopping at the end of lap six to try and gain an undercut on Albon. The ploy worked for Albon rejoined from his stop a lap later behind Russell, Nyck de Vries and Roy Nissany, the latter having had the race of his life to climb up the order.
Unfortunately the Israeli racer's day was to be brought to an early conclusion, with Nissany duly putting his Campos into the barriers at turn four while defending from Artem Markelov. The safety car duly reappeared for its second stint, before peeling into the pits at the end of lap 20.
At the restart Russell, de Vries and Albon all ran wide, allowing Antonio Fuoco to dart into the lead through turn one. Russell and de Vries duly went tumbling down the order, while Albon rejoined in second just ahead of Sérgio Sette Câmara.
A late engine failure for Makelov would ultimately decide the race, with Fuoco driving too cautiously through the smoke to defend the lead. Albon duly went charging through to claim victory, while Fuoco ultimately dropped to third on the penultimate lap after an excellent dive by Jack Aitken.
The FIA Formula Two circus rolled into Azerbaijan for the second round of the 2018 tour, rejoining the Formula One paddock after their trip to China. The Baku City Circuit itself was unchanged after F2's last visit with F1 in 2017, with the same mix of wide and narrow sections of track. Historically, the Baku circuit had created carnage when the F2 field came to town, although with more concerns about the reliability of the new Dallara F2 2018 car the issues may well come at the start, rather than during the race.
Indeed, the two races in Bahrain had been plagued by issues with the new Dallara's clutch, with no fewer than seven drivers stalling at the start between both races. Alexander Albon led the criticism of the new clutch, stating that the starts are "like a gamble on the starts," having had his own issues in the second Bahrain race. Championship leader Lando Norris was rather less concerned, stating that he had simply required practice to get used to the clutch, while George Russell remarked that his issues were a result of "driver error".
Elsewhere, Pirelli had picked two vastly different compounds of the weekend in Baku, bringing along their medium and supersoft P-Zero tyres for the two races. Each driver would get three sets of the mediums and two of the supersofts for the weekend, as well as three sets of their Cinturato wet tyres. Both dry tyre compounds were to be used during the Feature race, with drivers allowed to choose on which compound they start with.
Into the Championship and victory in the Bahrain Sprint Race had ensured that Artem Markelov closed the gap to Norris at the head of the field, although the Brit still held a nine point advantage over the Russian. Sérgio Sette Câmara, meanwhile, had dropped to third on 28 points, two behind Markelov, with the rest of the field on sixteen points or fewer arriving in Baku. Maximilian Günther was the first of those after his maiden podium finish in Sakhir, leaving him level on points with Nyck de Vries.
In the Teams' Championship Carlin had continued to hold sway after the second Bahrain race, with more than double the points of second placed Russian Time. The Pertamina Prema effort were next ahead of BWT Arden, while DAMS completed the top five level on points with compatriots ART Grand Prix. At the bottom of the table, meanwhile, Campos Racing had moved ahead of MP Motorsport, leaving Trident and Charouz as the only teams yet to score upon arrival in Azerbaijan.
The full entry list for the 2018 Baku Feature Race is displayed below:
It was a breezy afternoon in Baku for the second qualifying session of the season, with temperatures on the cooler side. Yet, there were no issues ahead of the session, with no threat of rain throughout the thirty scheduled minutes. Indeed, everyone was expected to run on supersoft Pirelli tyres, using both of their sets to try and grab pole.
The two Haas backed Tridents of Santino Ferrucci and Arjun Maini were the first two drivers to hit the track, leading a queue of cars out onto the circuit. They were followed by Championship leader Lando Norris, Jack Aitken and Sérgio Sette Câmara, with the rest of the field following in short order. Indeed, it was not long before the entire field was out in largely the same piece of circuit, despite having over six kilometres of tarmac to play in.
However, before any effective efforts could be completed, Maximilian Günther caused a red flag to be thrown, the German having rolled to a stop at the pit-exit at the start of his first flying lap. Fortunately for him, his Dallara could be pushed back to his mechanics, which duly got the German back into the fray once the session restarted. The two Tridents duly led the field out once again, this time with Artem Markelov chasing them down.
It was Norris who eventually managed to set the pace in the first completed runs, becoming the first man to record a sub-1:56.000 time in the session. He could not improve on his follow-up run, and duly saw his time beaten by Alexander Albon, whom had sat in the Brit's wake on said lap. Luca Ghiotto then hit the top of the times, just in time to see teammate Roy Nissany bring a close to the first half of the session by disappearing down an escape road.
Norris and Russell led the anti-Ghiotto charge after the tyre swap, with both setting fastest first sectors. They duly went across the line first and second overall, with Norris the faster with a 1:54.694 to Russell's 1:54.842. However, both were about to be flattened by Albon, whom flashed around to record a 1:54.480 to snatch provisional pole.
Whether Norris and Russell could muster a response ultimately became academic a few seconds later, for Nicholas Latifi would cause the second red flag of the session. Indeed, a spin at turn seven left the Canadian, whom had been battling issues since start of the session, stranded in the middle of the circuit, before Antonio Fuoco almost tangled himself with the DAMS. The result was a blocked circuit and the aforementioned second red flag, bringing the session to an end a minute before it was scheduled to conclude.
The final qualifying result for the 2018 Baku Feature Race are outlined below:
|2018 Baku Feature Race Qualifying Result|
|3rd||8||George Russell||ART Grand Prix||1:54.842||+0.362s||3|
|4th||14||Luca Ghiotto||Campos Vexatec Racing||1:54.980||+0.500s||4|
|5th||18||Sérgio Sette Câmara||Carlin||1:55.212||+0.732s||5|
|6th||7||Jack Aitken||ART Grand Prix||1:55.236||+0.756s||6|
|8th||4||Nyck de Vries||Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing||1:55.728||+1.248s||8|
|9th||10||Ralph Boschung||MP Motorsport||1:55.761||+1.281s||9|
|10th*||2||Tadasuke Makino||Russian Time||1:56.139||+1.659s||PL|
|11th||9||Roberto Merhi||MP Motorsport||1:56.532||+2.052s||11|
|12th||21||Antonio Fuoco||Charouz Racing System||1:57.090||+2.610s||12|
|13th||20||Louis Delétraz||Charouz Racing System||1:57.105||+2.625s||13|
|14th||3||Sean Gelael||Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing||1:57.508||+3.028s||14|
|15th||1||Artem Markelov||Russian Time||1:57.604||+3.124s||15|
|16th||15||Roy Nissany||Campos Vexatec Racing||2:01.902||+7.422s||16|
|DSQ†||11||Maximilian Günther||BWT Arden||1:55.970||+1.490s||17|
|DSQ†||12||Nirei Fukuzumi||BWT Arden||1:57.351||+2.871s||18|
|107% Time: 2:02.494|
- * Norris and Makino would start from the pitlane after stalling on the formation lap.
- † Günther and Fukuzumi were both disqualified from qualifying as Arden had too many people working on their cars.
- ‡ Ferrucci was disqualified from qualifying after his tyres were below the minimum allowed pressure.
- § Latifi would be allowed start despite failing to set a time under within 107% of the pole time.
|6||Sérgio Sette Câmara|
|Nyck de Vries||______________|
- * Norris and Makino would start from the pitlane after stalling on the formation lap.
- † Delétraz would not start the race after a suspension failure during the formation lap.
Another breezy afternoon would witness the Feature Race for Formula Two in Baku, with overcast conditions also bringing a threat of rain. Yet, as the field assembled on the grid for the start there would be no such concerns, with the entire field starting on supersoft Pirellis. However, it was to be another costly formation lap, with Lando Norris and Tadasuke Makino both stalling.
Norris' absence from the start was to be to the benefit of George Russell, for the ART Grand Prix racer sprinted into the space that Norris' Carlin should have occupied as the lights went out. That allowed him to pull up alongside pole starter Alexander Albon into the first corner, diving up the inside of the DAMS racer on the brakes. Russell duly got ahead on the inside line, but momentum carried him wide at the apex, allowing Albon to blast back ahead on the exit.
It was three abreast coming into turn three a few moments later, with Sérgio Sette Câmara jousting with Arjun Maini and Nyck de Vries out of turn two. de Vries ultimately out-muscled the pair of them to claim fourth, running just behind Luca Ghiotto in third. Out front, meanwhile, Albon was just able to fend off Russell as the Brit attacked, before the race was neutralised towards the end of the opening lap.
Indeed, having hit the throttle out of turn sixteen third placed Ghiotto lost control of his car, spinning across the track to slam into the barriers. His front right corner was obliterated by hitting the wall, with debris ultimately flicking across to the racing line. That prompted the safety car to be called, with Albon leading from Russell, de Vries, Maini and Câmara.
The restart came at the start of lap five, with Albon able to fend off Russell without much issue into the first corner. Indeed, the restart was so undramatic compared to the start that the most significant change came at the end of lap six, with Russell diving into the pits. Albon, meanwhile, would refuse DAMS' offer to bring him in, allowing Russell to try an undercut against the Thai racer on a new set of medium Pirelli tyres. Santino Ferrucci, Norris, Nicholas Latifi, Sean Gelael and Maximilian Günther all followed him in from the back of the pack.
A slick stop for Russell got him back out in a net lead, while Günther caused a brief yellow flag by stopping on the exit of turn four after his stop. Albon, meanwhile, set an excellent in-lap on lap seven, but ultimately got caught out in the pits, his team having to wait until it was safe to release him. That put him behind de Vries too, who squirrelled out his pitbox unhindered, while Russell came charging past pit-exit to claim a net lead.
A huge scrap followed as the final drivers made their stops, with Russell and de Vries fighting hard for the lead, while Albon battled with Roy Nissany. Indeed, having stayed out a lap longer than most, Nissany had been able to avoid any delays in the pits, meaning he had rejoined in a net third after his stop. Albon duly managed to take the Israeli racer as he came out of the pits, leaving the Campos racer to fall back towards the chasing pack.
Elsewhere, Nicholas Latifi was to lose out to Nirei Fukuzumi, who sent his BWT Arden diving inside the second DAMS into turn one. That opened the door for Câmara to try a move on the Canadian, although he found the door well and truly shut into turn three. Artem Markelov then joined the fight and elbowed his way through, while, just ahead, Antonio Fuoco moved past Nissany having just completed his stop.
The squabbling continued throughout the field, with Câmara lunging back past Fukuzumi into turn one for seventh, and only just avoided the barriers on the exit. Elsewhere, Nissany was running well, being caught slowly by Markelov, only to smash his Campos into the barriers at turn four, bring out the safety car on lap eighteen. Distraught, but importantly uninjured, Nissany climbed out of his car, which was quickly dragged out of the firing line.
The restart came at the start of lap 21, with Aitken, Latifi and Norris coming to the line as one at the lower end of the top ten. Out front, meanwhile, de Vries tried a late lunge on Russell into the first corner, forcing the Brit to run wide. de Vries, meanwhile, had a huge lock up and ran wider still, flashing past the nose of the ART, while Albon was caught out by those around him and also ran wide.
That gifted the lead to Fuoco, while Albon scrambled back onto the circuit just ahead of Câmara in second. Russell, meanwhile, was left with a nose full of barrier, while de Vries, and Markelov had to complete a set of pirouettes in the run off area to rejoin. Indeed, the latter had not been involved in the scrap out front at all, but had locked up while trying to lunge past Fuoco.
Into the closing stages and Aitken was all over the back of Câmara for third, and duly slipped inside the Brazilian into turn one on lap 23. Albon, meanwhile, was lining up a move on Fuoco for the lead, and duly sent his DAMS charging past the Italian into turn one two laps later, taking advantage of the fact that Fuoco had eased off through a smoke cloud caused by Markelov's expired engine. A couple more laps passed before Aitken launched a move on the Charouz Racing System, snatching second with a dive into turn three with a lap and a half to go.
With that the race was run, with Albon cruising home to claim victory for the first time in his F2 career. Aitken survived to claim second ahead of Fuoco, while Câmara ran out of time to pass the Ferrari Academy Driver. Latifi was next ahead of formation lap staller Norris, while Ralph Boschung, Roberto Merhi, Tadasuke Makino and Sean Gelael all survived well to claim the final points paying positions.
The final classification of the 2018 Baku Feature Race is displayed below:
|2018 Baku Feature Race Race Result|
|Pos.||No.||Name||Team||Laps||Race Time||Fastest lap||Pts.|
|2nd||7||Jack Aitken||ART Grand Prix||29||+1.992s||1:57.520||18|
|3rd||21||Antonio Fuoco||Charouz Racing System||29||+2.958s||1:57.409||17|
|4th||18||Sérgio Sette Câmara||Carlin||29||+5.846s||1:58.052||12|
|7th||10||Ralph Boschung||MP Motorsport||29||+12.698s||1:58.401||6|
|8th||9||Roberto Merhi||MP Motorsport||29||+14.324s||1:58.684||4|
|9th||2||Tadasuke Makino||Russian Time||29||+15.619s||1:58.820||2|
|10th||3||Sean Gelael||Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing||29||+20.826s||1:58.802||1|
|12th*||8||George Russell||ART Grand Prix||29||+59.009s||1:56.385|
|13th||12||Nirei Fukuzumi||BWT Arden||29||+1:55.517||1:59.015|
|Ret||4||Nyck de Vries||Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing||24||Brakes||1:57.882|
|Ret||1||Artem Markelov||Russian Time||20||Oil leak||1:58.334|
|Ret||15||Roy Nissany||Campos Vexatec Racing||17||Accident||1:58.704|
|Ret||11||Maximilian Günther||BWT Arden||6||Suspension||2:08.420|
|Ret||14||Luca Ghiotto||Campos Vexatec Racing||0||Accident||—|
|DNS†||20||Louis Delétraz||Charouz Racing System|
- Bold indicates a driver started from pole.
- Italics indicate that a driver set fastest lap.
- * Russell set the fastest lap overall but was not in the top ten so was unable to claim the point.
- † Delétraz was unable to start after suffering a suspension failure.
- Maiden pole position for Alexander Albon.
- Albon claimed his first victory in Formula Two.
- First victory for a Thai driver.
- DAMS claimed their fourth victory as an entrant in F2.
- Also their 29th win at GP2/F2 level.
- Maiden podium finish for Jack Aitken.
- Tadasuke Makino earned his first points finish.
Pole and victory had shot Alexander Albon to the sharp end of the Drivers Championship, the Thai driver ending the afternoon just six points shy of Lando Norris. Sérgio Sette Câmara was next ahead of Artem Markelov, with the Russian now seventeen points behind the F2 rookie out front. Jack Aitken was another driver to make a huge leap up the table, up to fifth, with Antonio Fuoco up in sixth after his podium finish.
Carlin continued to extend their lead at the top of the Teams Championship after another strong afternoon, their advantage over the rest of the field standing at 36 points. DAMS, meanwhile, were leading the chase against the British new boys courtesy of Albon's victory, overhauling Russian Time in the process. ART Grand Prix were now fourth, two behind the Russian team, with Pertamina Prema next up having dropped to fifth.
Only point scoring drivers and teams are shown.
Images and Videos:
- ↑ 'FIA Formula 2 Championship 2018 Season Calendar Unveiled', fiaformula2.com, (FIA Formula 2, 06/11/2017), http://www.fiaformula2.com/News-Room/News/2017/11_November/FIA-Formula-2-Championship-2018-season-calendar-unveiled/, (Accessed 13/06/2018)
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 'ALBON VICTORIOUS IN THRILLING BAKU FEATURE RACE', fiaformula2.com, (FIA Formula 2, 28/04/2018), http://www.fiaformula2.com/News-Room/News/2018/04_April/Albon-victorious-in-thrilling-Baku-feature-race/, (Accessed 16/06/2018)
- ↑ 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 'ALBON GRABS FIRST F2 POLE IN BAKU QUALIFYING', fiaformula2.com, (FIA Formula 2, 27/04/2018), http://www.fiaformula2.com/News-Room/News/2018/04_April/Albon-grabs-first-F2-pole-in-Baku-qualifying/, (Accessed 16/06/2018)
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 'BAKU WELCOMES MEDIUM AND SUPERSOFT P ZERO TYRES', fiaformula2.com, (FIA Formula 2, 25/04/2018), http://www.fiaformula2.com/News-Room/News/2018/04_April/Baku-welcomes-medium-and-supersoft-P-Zero-tyres/, (Accessed 16/06/2018)
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 Jack Benyon, 'Race starts "like a gamble" with new F2 car', motorsport.com, (Motorsport Network, 11/04/2018), https://www.motorsport.com/fia-f2/news/formula-2-drivers-gamble-starts-bahrain-1024871/?s=1, (Accessed 15/06/2018)
- ↑ 'Teams and Drivers', fiaformula2.com, (FIA Formula 2, 2018), http://www.webcitation.org/6ySMzYNSv, (Accessed 14/06/2018)
- ↑ 'Formula 2 2018 Results: Baku Qualifying', fiaformula2.com, (FIA Formula 2, 2018), http://www.fiaformula2.com/Results/?raceid=984&seasonid=175, (Accessed 16/06/2018)
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 'BAKU POST-QUALIFYING PENALTIES', fiaformula2.com, (FIA Formula 2, 27/04/2018), http://www.fiaformula2.com/News-Room/News/2018/04_April/Baku-post-qualifying-penalties/, (Accessed 16/06/2018)
- ↑ 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11 9.12 9.13 9.14 9.15 9.16 9.17 9.18 9.19 9.20 9.21 9.22 9.23 9.24 9.25 9.26 9.27 'F2 Race 1: Highlights', skysports.com, (Sky plc., 2018), http://www.skysports.com/watch/video/sports/f1/11349699/f2-race-1-highlights, (Accessed 16/06/2018)
- ↑ 'Formula 2 2018 Results: Baku Race 1', fiaformula2.com, (FIA Formula 2, 2018), http://www.fiaformula2.com/Results/?raceid=984&seasonid=175, (Accessed 16/06/2018)