Russell takes P1 in the early stages and defends against his opponents throughout the race interrupted by multiple Virtual Saftey Cars.
While the teams were concerned about rain disturbing the race just before the session started, Santino Ferrucci’s car broke down before the action had even begun. Hence, the American, who finished last in yesterday’s qualifying couldn’t start the race at all.
At the start itself, Prema’s Nyck de Vries had a decent getaway unlike his front row partner and pole setter Alexander Albon, who immediately lost three positions. Albon’s teammate Nicholas Latifi had an even worse start and completely stalled at the beginning.
Two turns into the race, Maximilian Günther was pushed out, spun and therefore had to bury his feature race ambitions in the sand. A first Virtual Safety Car (VSC) had been deployed, which forces the drivers to slow down in order to reach a delta time which is shown on the drivers’ displays. After the first lap, de Vries led George Russell, Luca Ghiotto and Albon, who had a close battle with championship leader Lando Norris on the first lap.
The VSC ended in lap 4, Albon took the inside line to overtake Ghiotto at the start of lap 5 to take P3. Some rain appeared in certain corners, which remained light enough not to distract the drivers.
In lap 6, Russell used DRS to beat de Vries easily on the start finish line to take the lead.
Moments later, the MP Motorsport drivers had a tight battle. Ralph Boschung tried to overtake Roberto Merhi; because of a contact, Boschung went into the tyres while Merhi had a puncture and therefore had to do a pit stop, which had been delayed due to another VSC
When the racing action resumed, Albon got P2 by using DRS against de Vries just before turn 1. Moments later, Russell had a solid 1.7 second lead to the Thai and another second to de Vries
A third VSC arrived, when Arjun Maini crashed into the wall at the exit of turn 5. Around lap 15, the first drivers who started on the softer compound came into the pits, which led to interesting position changes like Jack Aitken’s undercut against Lando Norris.
Albon pushed harder to close the gap to race leader Russell, which turned out not to be the best idea, as the Thai struggled with his tyres just a couple of laps later. Nyck de Vries made use of this issue and took P2 at the end of the back straight in lap 21.
Two laps later, the DAMS ace already felt the pressure from Ghiotto, so his French squad called him to pit at the end of that lap. Albon however ignored this call and lost P3 against the Italian just moments later. When he pitted a lap later, he even came out behind Norris and Aitken, who just had a tight battle as well.
Net leader Russell and rival de Vries pitted simultaneously in lap 26, but the Briton remained in front. At this moment, Artem Markelov, who started last, led the race thanks to an alternative strategy, bold moves and without having completed his mandatory pitstop.
A final VSC had been deployed with around ten laps to as Louis Deletraz misjudged his battle against Sean Gelael: The pair collided just before turn 1, with the Indonesian being immediately out of the race. The Swiss Charouz driver followed him some corners later. As a result, until lap 31, the drivers had to slow down again and wait.
At the end of the race, de Vries tried a final move on Russell on the inside of turn 5, but as the Dutchman couldn’t keep his position, he had to stay behind the ART driver and even had to defend against Norris some laps later.
The session ended after just over an hour with George Russell winning thanks to a very mature driving style, followed by de Vries and his fellow McLaren teammate Norris. Ghiotto finished in P4, ahead of Albon, Aitken and Sette Camara. Artem Markelov’s recovery drive got rewarded with P8 and a reverse grid pole tomorrow. His teammate Makino and Fuoco snatched the final points this afternoon.
Update: Deletraz has been penalised for causing the collision with Gelael. He was handed a five grid place position penalty for tomorrow’s sprint race.
|1||George Russell||ART||36 laps||25|
|2||Nyck de Vries||Prema||+1.036||18|
|5||Alexander Albon||DAMS||+6.098||10 + 4|
|7||Sergio Sette Camara||Carlin||+9.830||6|
|8||Artem Markelov||Russian Time||+20.857||4 + 2|
|9||Tadasuke Makino||Russian Time||+23.950||2|
|13||Roberto Merhi||MP Motorsport||+58.771|
|14||Nicholas Latifi||DAMS||+1 lap|
|Ret||Sean Gelael||Prema||+9 laps|
|Ret||Louis Deletraz||Charouz||+9 laps|
|Ret||Arjun Maini||Trident||+26 laps|
|Ret||Ralph Boschung||MP Motorsport||+31 laps|
|Ret||Maximilian Günther||Arden||+36 laps|
Fastest lap points
|8||Artem Markelov||Russian Time||1:30.550||36|
|1||Lando Norris||United Kingdom||70|
|3||George Russell||United Kingdom||52|
|4||Nyck de Vries||Netherlands||46|
|5||Sergio Sette Camara||Brazil||46|
|7||Jack Aitken||United Kingdom||28|
|16||Santino Ferrucci||United States||4|
|9||MP Motorsport||United Kingdom||16|