Home Featured Russell cuts gap to Norris to two points with Red Bull Ring F2 feature race win

Russell cuts gap to Norris to two points with Red Bull Ring F2 feature race win

by Peter Allen

Photo: Zak Mauger / FIA Formula 2

George Russell turned pole position into Formula 2 feature race victory for the second time in a week at the Red Bull Ring to close the gap to series leader Lando Norris to two points.

Mercedes junior Russell kept the lead at the start of the race over Norris from the new rolling start procedure, before the majority of the field headed for the pits under safety car conditions at the end of lap six to switch their supersoft tyres for softs.

Russell appeared to be managing his pace after the restart as he allowed the soft-starting Arjun Maini, Artem Markelov and Sean Gelael to head up the road, but he was not really challenged by Norris behind.

After the safety car came out again at the mid-way point, Norris seemed to struggle for pace, with the impressive pair of Maximilian Gunther and Roberto Merhi both coming past him within a few laps.

Russell, having already passed Gelael before the restart, overtook Maini when the Trident driver ran wide with 10 laps remaining and then took the lead back when Markelov pitted with just four to go to win by 5.1 seconds.

Norris finished up back in second place to retain the championship lead, coming back past Gunther and then Merhi in the closing stages, despite ex-Formula 1 driver Merhi?s valliant attempts to hold on.

Merhi, who started 12th, would be denied a third trip to the feature race podium in as many rounds by Antonio Fuoco, who came around the outside of Merhi at Turn 4 on the last lap to complete a stunning late charge after starting 13th.

Austro-German driver Gunther was denied a strong ?home? result by severe tyre wear which dropped him to 12th by the finish.

He had a particularly entertaining scrap with Jack Aitken and Louis Deletraz over a net third during the first half of the race, exchanging positions several times.

Aitken?s car then ground to a halt in Turn 1 halfway through the race to cause the second safety car period, with Deletraz slowing and pitting as he entered the final quarter of the race while running just behind Norris.

Alex Albon took fifth at the finish in front of Sergio Sette Camara, who had been third and keeping pace with Russell and Norris in the opening stint, but lost out in a chaotic pit-stop phase, where he was hampered by Norris being slow away from his stop before he could enter the pits.

On his fresh supersoft tyres, Markelov stole eighth and reversed-grid pole for the sprint race at the very last corner from Nirei Fukuzumi, having gone past three other struggling drivers on the inside of Turn 3 earlier in the final tour.

Markelov, who had a new chassis and engine for the race, is set to start the sprint race alongside his Russian Time team-mate Tadasuke Makino.