Silverstone, Race 1: Leclerc flies to five in Silverstone feature
Monegasque grabs fifth win despite dramas
Charles Leclerc has claimed his fifth race of the season at a damp Silverstone in this afternoon’s feature race, making light of a big fluid leak and losing a mirror to fly to victory by almost 9 seconds over a race long battle between Norman Nato and Oliver Rowland.
The Monegasque driver led the grid away when the lights went out, easily holding the lead from pole as his fellow front row starter Rowland was slow off the line, allowing Nato into P2 before the first corner ahead of the Briton and countryman Jordan King, Nobuharu Matsushita, Artem Markelov, Sergio Canamasas, and Nicholas Latifi as the field shook out around the circuit.
The Russian got a good run on Matsushita next time around to grab P5, but the Japanese driver soon came back at him, battling all the way to the stops, with Luca Ghiotto also squeezing by Latifi just before the pitstops started on lap 6. Most of the front runners were straight in but Leclerc stayed out before suffering a huge fluid release from under his engine cover, coming straight into the pits next time through.
If his rivals were hoping for a mechanical gremlin they were to be denied: the Ferrari Academy driver was straight back out on track in the lead of the pitted drivers, behind only Matsushita, Ralph Boschung, Robert Visoiu, Alexander Albon and Callum Ilott, all of who started on the harder compound. With the fight between Nato and Rowland raging behind, Leclerc soon started slicing through the cars ahead of him back towards P1.
As the laps wound down Leclerc was moving up, but on lap 20 his left mirror flew off his car, giving him something else to consider as he tracked down Matsushita for the lead. The Japanese driver finally pitted a lap later and Leclerc was back where he started, and pulling away from his rivals just to twist the knife.
When the chequered flag dropped Leclerc was 9 seconds ahead of Nato, who denied race long pressure from Rowland to hold on for second. Markelov was the next man across the line, fighting his way past Canamasas and others for P6, while teammate Ghiotto mugged King and Latifi in the closing stages for 6th, with Sean Gelael and Matsushita filling the final points positions.
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