Baku F2: Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc wins red-flagged race

Ferrari Formula 1 junior driver Charles Leclerc won a hectic Formula 2 feature race in Baku that ended under red flags in the pitlane

Baku F2: Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc wins red-flagged race

A late pile up caused by Arden's Sean Gelael crashing at the much maligned Turn 8 caused the suspension and confirmed Leclerc's victory over Rapax driver Nyck de Vries.

Nicholas Latifi completed the podium ahead of his DAMS team-mate Oliver Rowland.

At the start of the 29-lap race, Leclerc made a perfect getaway from pole while his fellow front row starter Nobuharu Matsushita dropped to fifth.

Leclerc eased away from Latifi and de Vries but the race was disrupted by the safety car after Johnny Cecotto - who had stalled from his seventh-place grid spot - slid into the wall at the left Turn 2 after finally getting going from the pitlane.

Leclerc led the field safely back to racing speeds as he dropped Latifi at the restart, where the DAMS driver was passed by de Vries for second place.

Leclerc pulled away from de Vries - who in turn quickly gapped Latifi - as the pack largely held station for the rest of the first stint.

Antonio Fuoco became the first of the lead runners to pit on lap six but got involved in a battle with Sergio Canamasas that ended when he climbed over the back of the Trident driver's rear wheels and shot into retirement down the Turn 4 escape road.

Leclerc pitted on lap seven but had to brake quickly as he left the pitbox due to the fast arrival of Matsushita.

That delay handed de Vries some time and he was closer to Leclerc when he rejoined after his own stop.

The race was briefly interrupted for a second time when Nabil Jeffri crashed out at the right hand Turn 7 but his car was swiftly recovered under the virtual safety car.

A second full safety car - called into action when Louis Deletraz smashed into the wall at Turn 2 - again reduced Leclerc's advantage but did allow him to close right up to Luca Ghiotto, who was yet to pit and led despite starting last.

When the race restarted, Leclerc did not risk an aggressive pass, which allowed de Vries to make it a tight three-car scrap for the lead.

But Ghiotto eventually pulled into the pits and it looked as if the race would conclude without further drama.

While the leaders had no more issues, a big fight between Gelael, Sergey Sirotkin, Gustav Malja and Matsushita - who had dropped down the order after a botched move on Ralph Boschung - ended when the Arden driver hit the wall and left the cars behind him nowhere to go.

The wreckage blocked the track and while a third safety car was initially deployed, the red flags were eventually shown.

With the result taken on lap 24 - lap before the pile-up - Artem Markelov finished fifth ahead of Norman Nato, Jordan King and Boschung, who had retired down the Turn 2 escape road moments before Gelael's crash.

Canamasas was classified in ninth, with Sirotkin rounding out the top 10.

FEATURE RACE - 24 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1 Charles Leclerc Prema Racing 52m33.196s -
2 Nyck de Vries Rapax 52m36.665s 3.469s
3 Nicholas Latifi DAMS 52m39.586s 6.390s
4 Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 52m44.890s 11.694s
5 Norman Nato Pertamina Arden 52m50.270s 17.074s
6 Jordan King MP Motorsport 52m51.766s 18.570s
7 Oliver Rowland DAMS 52m52.286s 19.090s
8 Ralph Boschung Campos Racing 52m54.544s 21.348s
9 Sergio Canamasas Trident 52m56.066s 22.870s
10 Sergey Sirotkin ART Grand Prix 52m57.238s 24.042s
11 Gustav Malja Racing Engineering 52m58.024s 24.828s
12 Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix 52m58.892s 25.696s
13 Sergio Sette Camara MP Motorsport 53m02.871s 29.675s
14 Sean Gelael Pertamina Arden 53m06.297s 33.101s
15 Robert Visoiu Campos Racing 53m06.516s 33.320s
16 Luca Ghiotto RUSSIAN TIME 53m22.403s 49.207s
- Louis Deletraz Racing Engineering 25m04.273s Retirement
- Nabil Jeffri Trident 20m03.787s Retirement
- Antonio Fuoco Prema Racing 14m00.436s Retirement
- Johnny Cecotto Jr. Rapax - Retirement


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