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GP2 - Silverstone, Race 1: Albon sweeps to Feature Race victory

Thai driver secures second victory of the season


7 July 2018 - 17h54, by Olivier Ferret 

Alexander Albon took his second FIA Formula 2 Championship victory in the Feature Race at Silverstone, Great Britain, the DAMS driver capitalising on a slow pitstop for polesitter George Russell to clinch the win by 9.783s. ART Grand Prix’s Russell collected a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pitlane en route to second, as Antonio Fuoco of Charouz Racing System collected third place.

Maintaining his lead at the start, Russell immediately began to build a gap over Albon in the opening stages of the race as he sought to exert control over the pace early on. Behind them, Artem Markelov made an early play for seventh place by passing Arjun Maini into the Maggotts-Becketts complex before closing in on Lando Norris, with Maini remaining in contention.

Russell grasped the early fastest laps to keep Albon outside of DRS range, building a 1.5 second lead by the third lap, while Louis Deletraz battled teammate Fuoco for third place. Maini - having retaken seventh from Markelov - began to challenge Norris, capitalising on a mistake from the British driver at turn 2 to dive down the inside for sixth. The Indian driver then proceeded to go after Sergio Sette Camara in his pursuit of early progress.

At the end of lap 6, the leading pack all pitted to trade their worn soft tyres for the harder compound. Cue pitlane dramatics, as a problem with the right-rear wheel gun prompted a slow stop for Russell, gifting the lead to Albon. Russell’s misery was compounded after receiving a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pitlane, while his ART teammate Jack Aitken was simultaneously handed the same sanctions.

Stopping the lap after, Deletraz ended his brief time in the lead and was followed in by Maini and Norris, who both endured miserable pitstops – Norris stalling in the box – to drop down the order. Tadasuke Makino assumed the lead while running the alternate strategy, finding great pace on his hard-compound tyres to build a gap over Ralph Boschung, who occupied second.

Albon, buoyed by Russell’s penalty, was able to eat into the gap of the drivers yet to stop, clearing Roy Nissany ahead of a mid-race virtual safety car; Nirei Fukuzumi came to a halt on the Hangar Straight, but his stranded car was quickly cleared by the marshals to offer a prompt restart to the race. Losing four seconds from his lead, Makino’s gap to Boschung was slashed – although the Swiss driver was quickly dispatched from second by Albon. Meanwhile, Deletraz was slow to react to the restart, and was under heavy fire from Sergio Sette Camara – whose run on the Charouz driver into Brooklands was impressively batted away.

Sette Camara found his way through two laps later, clearing Deletraz and immediately setting after Fuoco in his pursuit of a second consecutive podium. Makino gave up the lead to Albon at the end of the 20th lap, who set a fastest lap which preceded a second VSC - Sean Gelael coming together with Norris at Brooklands to end the Indonesian’s day. The VSC period was quickly over, and Albon was able to open the lead to 2.5s.

Having caught Fuoco, Sette Camara’s day was over after suffering from engine problems, pulling over at the side of the road with his car on fire. Quickly extinguished, the battle behind him on track stayed alight with Ghiotto clearing Deletraz for fourth on the entrance to Luffield – but Deletraz remained in the frame to take the fight to Ghiotto in the closing stages.

Continuing to open the gap, Albon found almost five seconds in hand over Russell by the end of the race, and the Thai driver crossed the line to grab his second win of 2018. Despite his time penalty, Russell kept a sufficient gap to Fuoco to retain second place.

Frustrated by Ghiotto’s tough defending, Deletraz passed the Italian driver on the final lap to recoup fourth place, as Markelov ended the day just 0.1s behind the Campos Vexatec Racing driver at the line. De Vries ended the day in seventh, ahead of Maximilian Gunther – who will take reverse-grid pole for tomorrow’s race – as Boschung and Norris completed the scorers.



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