Nicholas Latifi proves unstoppable to grab his first Feature Race win, while Luca Ghiotto recovered after troubled start.
Early trouble due to a broken clutch left Luca Ghiotto shaking his head getting off the line for the formation lap. This resulted in wheel spin leading to a slow start off the mark at lights out, pushing Ghiotto down to 6th. Louis Delétraz got the lead at Turn 1 with Nyck De Vries going on the defensive. However, it was Nicholas Latifi who nabbed P2 after Turn 1 having started P4. Sette Câmara shuffled from P8 to P13 having lamented engine issues over the radio to his Carlin team.
On Lap 5 a yellow flag was called as Sean Gelael lost the rear of his car into Turn 1. “I don’t know what happened” Geael reported to the PREMA garage. Gelael’s DRS was still open while breaking causing the loss of control. This continues Gelael’s streak of having not won any points since Monaco last year.
The race was no short of overtaking action. A 3-way battle between Jack Aitken, Nobuharu Matsushita and Ghiotto for 4th place. All the while, Louis Delétraz, Latifi and de Vires were shooting it out in the top three. Latifi would get the lead past Delétraz on Lap 8.
On lap 12, Matsushita was the first in the pits, with a rather slow pit stop from his Carlin team. This was due to an issue with the right rear tyre, getting him back on track a lot slower than anticipated.
Despite the poor start, Ghiotto moved up to P2 on Lap 14 in a great come back. Lap 16 saw a slew of pit stops taking place which switched up the grid. Lap 17 saw a nightmare pit stop for Latifi as an issue with the gun locking in the right rear tyre cost him about 4-5 seconds. Latifi emerged P6. This pushed Ghiotto into the lead, however he had yet to pit.
Matsushita again showed tremendous battling on the track in a fight between Calderón and Delétraz. Matsushita won P4 leaving Delétraz P5 and Calerdon P6. Race leader Ghiotto then pitted on Lap 18 to give de Vries the lead. Ghiotto rejoined the pack in P7.
Lap 20 was full over overtakes, as Aitken took P8 from Jordan King and Matsushita clawing to P2 behind de Vries.
Latifi managed to secure P3 from Delétraz moving him into the podium points. The very next lap Latifi managed to take P2 from Matsushita at Turn 1. A tremendous recovery from the botched pit stop by his DAMS team. Soon enough, the Canadian made it a hat trick of overtakes on lap 23, taking the lead from de Vries again at Turn 1.
It was Ghiotto who made the move of the race however, has he overtook both Delétraz and Sette Câmara on Turn 1 to take P4 on Lap 25. He made more efforts to try get him back into the lead which he lost from the start by getting past de Vries well before the breaking zone of Turn 1 on lap 27.
In the end, Latifi was too far ahead in the distance to take the chequered flag, followed by Ghiotto and Sette Camara rounding off the podium. With both DAMS drivers on the podium, it gives them a nice lead in the championship.
Anthoine Hubert finished P4, followed by Delétraz, de Vries, Aitken, Mick Schumacher, Matsushita and Guanyu Zhou. Schumacher grabbed reserve pole position from Matsushita for the Sprint race tomorrow. While Zhou held the fastest lap with 1:47.645 and finished P10, giving him his first points of the year.