Barcelona F2: Ferrari junior Leclerc wins first feature race

Ferrari Formula 1 junior driver Charles Leclerc claimed his first Formula 2 feature race win after a safety car disrupted event at Barcelona

Barcelona F2: Ferrari junior Leclerc wins first feature race

Leclerc beat Luca Ghiotto and Oliver Rowland to extend his championship points lead for Prema Racing.

At the start, Leclerc defended hard against Ghiotto but held the lead on the run down to the first corner.

Ghiotto dived down the inside of Leclerc at Turn 4 and briefly took the lead but he locked up and slid wide, allowing the Monegasque driver to reclaim first place.

Leclerc then built up a slender 0.9 second advantage over Ghiotto, who lost second to Alexander Albon when the Thai racer dived up the inside at Turn 1 at the start of the fourth lap.

The battle at the front settled down as Leclerc extended his lead up to 2.1s, before he switched to the hard tyres at the end of the seventh tour of the 37-lap race.

Ghiotto followed him in two laps later, which left Albon, DAMS' Oliver Rowland and Rapax driver Nyck De Vries at the front when Sergio Canamasas triggered the virtual safety car when he stopped on track at the approach to Turn 7.

That became a full safety car as the marshals who attended the Trident driver needed to tow his car to safety.

The field had bunched up when the race resumed on lap 14, where Albon and Rowland - who were both yet to stop after starting on the hard rubber - leapt clear.

Leclerc was fighting down in 12th place but began quickly cutting through the field - starting with a sweeping move on Campos driver Ralph Boschung at Turn 1 on lap 17.

Back at the front, Rowland pressured Albon before moving into the lead on lap 21 after getting better run out of Turn 5.

Rowland quickly established a gap over Albon but was only 13.5s clear of Leclerc - now up to fifth - by the time he finally came into take the soft tyres on lap 28, which dropped him to seventh.

As the final hard-shod runners came into make their stops, Leclerc eased back into the lead and went on to win by 3.7s over Ghiotto - who had shadowed the championship leader after dropping away while they battled back through the pack after the safety car.

Rowland - who at times was two-seconds a lap faster than Leclerc on his new tyres - charged back to third but was a distant 11.1s behind at the flag.

Nobuharu Matsushita finished fourth after mirroring Leclerc and Ghiotto's tyre strategies but was passed by Rowland late on.

Albon came home fifth ahead of Nicholas Latifi, Gustav Malja, Artem Markelov and Jordan King, as Boschung rounded out the top ten.

Former F1 driver Roberto Merhi was the only driver to fail to finish when he stopped in the pits late on.

The Spaniard had earlier picked up a puncture from Prema's Antonio Fuoco - who also made contact with Markelov and eventually finished in P14.

RESULT - 37 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Gap
1 Charles Leclerc Prema Racing 1h02m33.684s
2 Luca Ghiotto RUSSIAN TIME 3.730s
3 Oliver Rowland DAMS 11.146s
4 Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix 14.103s
5 Alexander Albon ART Grand Prix 17.319s
6 Nicholas Latifi DAMS 23.879s
7 Gustav Malja Racing Engineering 24.779s
8 Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 25.403s
9 Jordan King MP Motorsport 30.967s
10 Nyck de Vries Rapax 43.832s
11 Louis Deletraz Racing Engineering 50.283s
12 Ralph Boschung Campos Racing 58.201s
13 Antonio Fuoco Prema Racing 1m05.970s
14 Sergio Sette Camara MP Motorsport 1m05.973s
15 Sean Gelael Pertamina Arden 1m08.333s
16 Norman Nato Pertamina Arden 1m09.241s
17 Johnny Cecotto Jr. Rapax 1m27.784s
18 Nabil Jeffri Trident 1m29.521s
19 Roberto Merhi Campos Racing 4 Laps
- Sergio Canamasas Trident Retirement


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Barcelona F2: Ferrari F1 junior Charles Leclerc takes pole position
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