Artem Markelov wins Austria F2 sprint race, Charles Leclerc crashes

Russian Time's Artem Markelov won an incident-filled Formula 2 sprint race in Austria ahead of Alexander Albon and Oliver Rowland, as championship leader Charles Leclerc crashed out

Artem Markelov wins Austria F2 sprint race, Charles Leclerc crashes

At the start of the 28-lap event, polesitter Markelov maintained his advantage while his fellow front-row starter Ralph Boschung got away very slowly from second.

Most of the pack darted past the Campos Racing racer - Leclerc barely avoiding a collision from eighth on the grid - but an unsighted Raffaele Marciello crashed into the back of the Swiss driver's car.

That incident brought out the safety car but it was not deployed until after the pack arrived in close formation at the tight Turn 3, where Sean Gelael spun his Arden machine after a close clash with Nicholas Latifi.

When the race resumed at the start of lap five of 28, Markelov dropped Alexander Albon - who was up to second from third for ART Grand Prix after Boschung's slow start - and the Thai driver was put under pressure from Rowland.

But when Rowland dropped back on the exit of Turn 3 later in the lap he fell into the clutches of Antonio Fuoco.

The Italian driver attacked at the downhill right-hander of Turn 4 but could not pull off a move.

As he then backed off on the outside he was hit from behind by his Prema Racing team-mate - and race one winner - Leclerc, who spun off into retirement as a result.

The recovery of Leclerc's machine prompted the virtual safety car and after it ended Markelov set about establishing a lead over Albon that was never threatened.

Rowland stalked Albon for the rest of the race, getting close to a move on lap 12 before falling away slightly again.

The Briton - who is now 49 points behind Leclerc after his rival's retirement - set a string of personal best laps in the closing stages but could not get close enough to pull off a pass.

Markelov therefore claimed his second F2 win of 2017 by 1.4-seconds at the finish, with Albon securing his first ever podium finish in the series.

Luca Ghiotto pulled off a series of aggressive passes to rise from 14th on the grid to fourth by the end, dispatching Fuoco down the inside of Turn 4 with four laps remaining.

Jordan King made an excellent start to rocket up to fifth in the early laps and he came home sixth for MP Motorsport ahead of Norman Nato and Latifi.

Sergio Canamasas and Sergio Sette Camara rounded out the top 10.

Boschung continued after the start collision but approaching half-distance he retired, as did Robert Visoiu and McLaren F1 junior Nyck de Vries after they collided in the closing stages at the apex of Turn 4 in an incident that will be investigated after the race.

De Vries will also be investigated for a making possible overtaking manoeuvre just as the safety car was deployed on lap one.

RESULTS - 28 LAPS

Pos Driver Team Gap
1 Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 40m32.190s
2 Alexander Albon ART Grand Prix 1.458s
3 Oliver Rowland DAMS 2.055s
4 Luca Ghiotto RUSSIAN TIME 5.840s
5 Antonio Fuoco Prema Racing 6.629s
6 Jordan King MP Motorsport 10.515s
7 Norman Nato Pertamina Arden 13.656s
8 Nicholas Latifi DAMS 15.922s
9 Sergio Canamasas Rapax 15.979s
10 Sergio Sette Camara MP Motorsport 16.282s
11 Sean Gelael Pertamina Arden 18.849s
12 Nabil Jeffri Trident 20.948s
13 Louis Deletraz Racing Engineering 21.301s
14 Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix 22.443s
15 Gustav Malja Racing Engineering 1m07.922s
16 Nyck de Vries Rapax 2 Laps
17 Robert Visoiu Campos Racing 3 Laps
- Ralph Boschung Campos Racing Retirement
- Charles Leclerc Prema Racing Retirement
- Raffaele Marciello Trident Retirement

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

Pos Driver Points
1 Charles Leclerc 151
2 Oliver Rowland 102
3 Artem Markelov 99
4 Nicholas Latifi 72
5 Luca Ghiotto 66
6 Nobuharu Matsushita 62
7 Alexander Albon 59
8 Norman Nato 45
9 Nyck de Vries 45
10 Jordan King 43
11 Gustav Malja 28
12 Antonio Fuoco 23
13 Johnny Cecotto Jr. 16
14 Ralph Boschung 11
15 Sergey Sirotkin 9
16 Sergio Canamasas 3
17 Sean Gelael 1
18 Sergio Sette Camara 0
19 Robert Visoiu 0
20 Louis Deletraz 0
21 Nabil Jeffri 0
22 Roberto Merhi 0
23 Stefano Coletti 0
24 Raffaele Marciello 0

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