Baku F2: Albon survives chaos to take maiden win

Baku F2: Albon survives chaos to take maiden win
David Gruz
By: David Gruz
Apr 28, 2018, 9:26 AM

Alexander Albon survived two safety car periods and a poor pitstop to take his maiden Formula 2 victory in a chaotic Baku feature race.

Starting from pole, Albon lost out to a fast-starting George Russell, but the DAMS driver was more comfortable on the brakes at Turn 3 and reclaimed the lead.

The safety car then soon made an appearance due to a chaotic opening lap, which included Jack Aitken and Roberto Merhi stalling and Sean Gelael nudging Louis Deletraz into Maximilian Gunther at the first corner.

Deletraz retired on the spot and Gelael and Gunther both pitted, the German then stopping on track a few laps later. Luca Ghiotto also crashed out of third place after losing control of his car after running over the kerbs too hard.

The race was restarted on Lap 5 and Albon kept Russell at bay before the Mercedes junior pitted.

Albon followed suit a lap later, but the Anglo-Thai driver had a sluggish stop and rejoined some 10 seconds behind Russell and Nyck de Vries in third.

After a few strong laps following his stop, Russell's lead was up to over four seconds, a gap he managed for 10 laps before the safety car was deployed again as Roy Nissany hit the barriers.

On the restart, both Russell and De Vries ran off-track at Turn 1 and Charouz driver Antonio Fuoco found his way past Albon to take the lead.

However Fuoco was never able to pull away from Albon and when an engine failure for Artem Markelov left smoke on the track, Albon closed in on Fuoco and passed him at Turn 1.

That proved to be the winning move as Albon quickly extended his advantage to over a second and Fuoco switched his attention to the charging Aitken.

Albon eventually won by 1.9s and ART driver Aitken passed Fuoco to complete a heroic recovery from stalling and pitting at the start to take his maiden F2 podium in second.

Fuoco completed the podium ahead of Carlin's Sergio Sette Camara.

Albon's DAMS teammate Nicholas Latifi took an impressive fifth after starting from 20th and last place, followed by Lando Norris (Carlin), who recovered from stalling on the formation lap.

MP Motorsport teammates Ralph Boschung and Merhi took seventh and eighth and will start Sunday's reverse-grid race from the front row. Russian Time's Tadasuke Makino and Gelael (Prema) completed the top 10.

Russell managed to rejoin the track after his incident to take 12th, while De Vries, was forced to retire in the pits.

Arjun Maini was another retirement, having run as high as fifth before suffering mechanical problems.

Race results:

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About this article

Series FIA F2
Event Baku
Sub-event Saturday race
Location Baku City Circuit
Drivers Alexander Albon
Teams DAMS
Author David Gruz
Article type Race report