In a race full of overtakes, Nyck de Vries kept a cool head to win the Belgian feature race ahead of Sergio Sette Camara and championship leader George Russell.
The race took place in cloudy but dry conditions after a wet phase in Formula 1’s qualifying, which took place earlier today.
The formation lap was already action-packed as Dorian Boccolacci stalled on his F2 debut and Sergio Sette Camara almost crashed into Nyck de Vries before they approached the Bus Stop chicane.
The Dutch pole-sitter had a perfect start moments later, unlike his closest rivals Sette Camara and Russell. Both drivers suffered from wheelspin; still, the Brazilian attacked the Mercedes protégé at Eau Rouge and took second place into Raidillon.
Behind them, Lando Norris, Alexander Albon and Luca Ghiotto all went side-by-side at the Kemmel straight. Norris kept the inside line, the other two drivers even lost another position to Antonio Fuoco, who used their slipstream wisely.
The order at the front end didn’t change for the following laps, but Albon began to struggle a lot and was obviously annoyed about his setup. He lost P6 at the end of the Kemmel straight to Ghiotto, got caught by Fukuzumi at Bruxelles (in just one lap) and was beaten by Markelov as well, who braked later at the Bus Stop Chicane.
Markelov stayed focused and did the same move two more times. One lap after he passed Albon, last year’s runner-up overtook Fukuzumi before surprising Ghiotto in lap 7 as well.
However, battles didn’t solely happen around P6 as Maximilian Günther passed Louis Deletraz exactly when Roy Nissany was able to take Tadasuke Makino’s position.
De Vries was totally unimpressed by this action and pulled away to have a 5.5 second lead in lap 6, when the first round of pit stops commenced. Arjun Maini was the first to pit for fresh prime tyres, followed by most of the other drivers who had started on soft tyres two laps later. Prema driver de Vries stayed out as his pace still hadn’t dropped.
Things got messy on lap 11, when de Vries decided to change his tyres as well: his pit stop was slightly slower than the others’, hence the McLaren junior driver faced slower, battling cars when emerging from the pits. All of a sudden, the man who started from pole found himself less than a second ahead of Sette Camara, who himself had only a small gap to Russell and Norris.
Two laps later, Lando Norris overtook Ralph Boschung on the outside of Blanchimont after being slightly pushed off the track two corners earlier.
On lap 14 Markelov and Latifi, the two fastest drivers on the alternative strategy, pitted as well. Just one lap later, Fukuzumi’s Arden caught fire, which led both to a VSC and a real Safety Car. Markelov and Latifi suddenly had a chance to win the race as the field was compact again and both had fresh rubber to push until the end.
The Safety Car returned to the pits at the end of lap 18 and once again, de Vries did nothing wrong at the restart to keep first place. Norris tried again to get past Russell, but the ART driver chose the inside line of Les Combes to stay ahead.
The chaos didn’t stop, when Ralph Boschung, who made a wise pit stop under the safety car, crashed into the barriers at the exit of Bruxelles. The Swiss was visibly and audibly frustrated and could only watch the remainder of the race where he could realistically score some points.
Markelov overtook Deletraz at the final stages of the race, but while Albon could pass Ghiotto with DRS, the Russian couldn’t take the Italian’s position although attempting it at the Chicane or twice into Les Combes.
The big showdown took place on the final lap, when Alexander Albon, who suddenly regained his race pace, wanted to take P4 from Lando Norris. The DAMS driver had a good exit out of Raidillon, stayed on the outside of the Kemmel straight, overtook Norris but unfortunately braked to late and missed the following corner. As a result, the Thai had to give back the position.
Half a lap later, de Vries crossed the line to win his second consecutive feature race. However, the eyecatcher in that moment turned out to be Artem Markelov who stole P6 from Ghiotto in the final metres of the race when exiting the Bus Stop Chicane. Ironically, the Russian completed the exact same move one year ago overtaking Oliver Rowland.
Beside Nyck de Vries, Sergio Sette Camara and George Russell could be found on the rostrum, followed by Lando Norris, Alex Albon and Artem Markelov. Luca Ghiotto, Nicholas Latifi, Maximilian Günther and Roy Nissany (for the first time in F2) completed the points-paying positions.
|1||Nyck de Vries||Prema||25 laps||25 + 4 + 2|
|2||Sergio Sette Camara||Carlin||+3.153||18|
|6||Artem Markelov||Russian Time||+13.181||8|
|12||Tadasuke Makino||Russian Time||+24.477|
|15||Dorian Boccolacci||MP Motorsport||+29.612|
|Ret||Ralph Boschung||MP Motorsport||+7 laps|
|Ret||Nirei Fukuzumi||Arden||+12 laps|
|1||Nyck de Vries||Prema||2:00.632||19|
Fastest lap points
|1||Nyck de Vries||Prema||2:00.632||19|
|1||George Russell||United Kingdom||186|
|2||Lando Norris||United Kingdom||171|
|4||Nyck de Vries||Netherlands||145|
|5||Sergio Sette Camara||Brazil||124|
|10||Jack Aitken||United Kingdom||61|
|19||Santino Ferrucci||United States||7|
|8||MP Motorsport||United Kingdom||54|