Abu Dhabi F2: F1-bound Russell seals title with win, Albon stalls

Williams Formula 1 signing George Russell sealed the Formula 2 title in his rookie season with victory in the Abu Dhabi feature race, as rival Alex Albon stalled

Abu Dhabi F2: F1-bound Russell seals title with win, Albon stalls

ART Grand Prix driver Russell was immediately on the front foot thanks to drama for Albon, as the British-born Thai driver made it only inches out of his starting box.

His third-place starting DAMS team-mate Nicholas Latifi also stalled and was hit from behind by Arjun Maini in a violent crash, which left the FIA's Charlie Whiting ducking to avoid debris in the race director's box at the start finish line.

Albon was able to restart, but he was two laps down, and even if he had won the race and taken the two bonus points for fastest lap, Russell still would have only had to finish eighth to seal the title. He ended up 14th.

The six-lap safety car for the startline crash affected the race dramatically, as it meant drivers could run a shorter stint on the rapidly-degrading supersoft tyre.

Russell had dropped behind Prema Racing's Nyck de Vries at the start, but pitted one lap earlier to engage the undercut - a decision he made himself.

When de Vries pitted the pair came out side by side but Russell dived down the inside into the tight complex leading onto the long back straight, with de Vries yet to warm his cold Pirellis.

The pair had duelled before the stops, even making contact when Russell clipped de Vries' rear at the Turn 8 hairpin.

Russell came under pressure in the closing stages, as Artem Markelov made a late move on de Vries for second on lap 23 of 29.

But a lap later, Russell went 0.8 seconds quicker and managed his gap to 3.3s at the end of the race to take a seventh win of the season, following last year's GP3 Series title in his rookie year, with the F2 title at the first time of asking.

Remarkably, Luca Ghiotto took third from 16th on the grid. He led most of the race having started on the soft tyres and run long before pitting, and his pace was searing even late in his stint.

Without a five-second penalty for a track limits infringement he could have had second too, after slicing past Lando Norris and de Vries in the closing laps having pitted for supersofts with just three laps left.

De Vries took fourth ahead of Norris, who was racey early in his stint on the mediums and even headed Markelov. But as soon as the 2019 McLaren driver had made his move on Markelov his pace appeared to disappear and he had to settle for fifth after Ghiotto's late charge.

Louis Deletraz gave Charouz a sixth-place finish, matching his starting position, while his team-mate Antonio Fuoco earned seventh with a charge from 12th on the grid.

Roberto Merhi ran sixth from 11th in the early stages after a demon start, and after the stops he fell back to eighth - giving him reverse-grid pole position for Sunday.

Tadasuke Makino took ninth for Russian Time, ahead of Russell's team-mate Jack Aitken, who struggled with his front tyres and fell five positions from his starting spot.

Feature race result

Pos Driver Team Laps Gap
1 George Russell ART Grand Prix 29 1h03m33.863s
2 Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 29 3.301s
3 Luca Ghiotto Campos Vexatec Racing 29 8.283s
4 Nyck de Vries Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 29 12.046s
5 Lando Norris Carlin 29 19.050s
6 Louis Deletraz Charouz Racing System 29 21.964s
7 Antonio Fuoco Charouz Racing System 29 23.633s
8 Roberto Merhi Campos Vexatec Racing 29 27.375s
9 Tadasuke Makino RUSSIAN TIME 29 27.840s
10 Jack Aitken ART Grand Prix 29 32.786s
11 Dan Ticktum BWT Arden 29 42.485s
12 Dorian Boccolacci MP Motorsport 29 46.303s
13 Alessio Lorandi Trident 29 47.809s
14 Alexander Albon DAMS 29 55.571s
15 Niko Kari MP Motorsport 29 1m10.190s
16 Sergio Sette Camara Carlin 29 1m10.766s
17 Sean Gelael Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 29 1m29.971s
- Nicholas Latifi DAMS 0 Retirement
- Nirei Fukuzumi BWT Arden 0 Retirement
- Arjun Maini Trident 0 Retirement

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F2 Abu Dhabi: Tyre warm-up issue led to low grid spot, says Albon
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