F2: Ghiotto wins Silverstone Feature Race after epic battle with Latifi

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Uni-Virtuosi driver Luca Ghiotto during the Formula 2 Free Practice session at Silverstone. Image sourced from Formula Scout.

Uni-Virtuosi’s Luca Ghiotto continued his fine form after claiming his first Feature Race victory at Silverstone.

The Italian fended off DAMS’ Nicholas Latifi and Pole-sitter Guanyu Zhou, while championship leader, Nyck de Vries could only manage seventh.

Qualifying Round-Up

Renault Development Driver Guanyu Zhou claimed Pole Position for the Silverstone Feature Race. Image sourced from Formula Rapida.

It was an intense qualifying session with both drivers from Uni-Virtuosi and DAMS battling it out for pole position.

Zhou proved he was the fastest and took his first Pole Position in Formula 2; a first for a Chinese driver. Team-mate Ghiotto was second with the DAMS duo of Sergio Sette Camara and Nicholas Latifi lining up on row two.

Louis Deletraz put in an excellent effort for Carlin to start fifth, with Sauber Junior Callum Illott in sixth and ART’s Nyck de Vries seventh.

Prema’s Sean Gelael received a grid penalty after a collision with Deletraz in Free Practice. The Indonesian driver was supposed to start the race from the back of the grid. However, due to personal reasons, he will not take part in any of the races this weekend.

Ghiotto jumps Zhou

On the race start, Ghiotto was able to draw alongside Zhou into Turn 1, with the Italian muscling out his team-mate to take the lead. Zhou then tussled for the position into Turn 6, but Ghiotto held the line and kept the position.

Behind them, Camara held third place from Latifi, while a brake failure for Antoine Hubert left him stranded on the grid. Hubert would eventually re-join the race, albeit a lap down, while Trident’s Dorian Boccolacci hit the run-off area and retired.

Nobuharu Matsushita was another driver who had a strong first lap and was up to sixth, as did Giuliano Alesi and Nikita Mazepin, gaining several places to run 11th and 12th respectively.

By Lap 5, Ghiotto led Zhou by a second, with Latifi in touching distance. The Italian knew he needed to maintain the lead over his team-mate, to receive preference during the pit stop phase.

As a result, Ghiotto increased his lead 1.7 seconds, as Latifi pressurised Zhou for second place.

Ghiotto goes Toe-to-Toe with Latifi

Nicholas Latifi put up a great fight in the Formula 2 Feature Race. © Dutch Photo Agency

At the end of the following lap, Zhou, Latifi, de Vries, Deletraz all made their mandatory stops.

Interestingly, Ghiotto stayed out for another lap, as Latifi jumped Zhou in the pits. After the Italian re-joined in fifth, he remained ahead of Latifi, but with cold tyres.

Latifi knew this and challenged him for the net lead into turns 6, 7 and 8, with slight contact being made into the Maggotts/Beckects complex as Latifi nudged Ghiotto.

A lock-up for Ghiotto allowed Latifi to get past into turn 4, with the Canadian holding off a susbequent attack into Turn 15.

Back at the front, Mazepin and Tatiana Calderon led the way as they were yet to pit, as Latifi and Ghiotto were separated by less than half a second.

Having tried the manoeuvre the lap before, Ghiotto made the move stick at Turn 15 to pass Latifi. However, fast and consistent lap times from fifth-placed Zhou was pulling the Chinese driver back into contention.

By Lap 14, Ghiotto had passed Calderon for second chased down Mazepin, who had a ten second lead.

Latifi would also overtake Calderon on track, but got held up. Consequently, he’d dropped a few seconds behind Ghiotto, who posted the fastest lap of the race.

De Vries’ Silverstone Struggles Continue

Championship leader Nyck de Vries was off the pace for ART Grand Prix. Image sourced from @FIA_F2 via Twitter.

Elsewhere, De Vries was only seventh ahead of Campos’ Jack Aitken, Deletraz and Illott, who had lost a few positions during the pit-stop phase.

With ten laps remaining, Ghiotto had slashed the gap down four and a half seconds, while stabilizing the gap behind to around three seconds. With Latifi struggling, Uni-Virtousi gave Zhou the hurry-up as Camara was catching him.

At the end of lap 21, Mazepin pitted, handing the lead to Ghiotto, as Camara hounded Zhou for third. With clear air, Ghiotto and Latifi traded fastest lap times, though the gap stayed around three seconds.

De Vries was up to fifth, but had the likes of Aitken, Deletraz, Illott, Matsushita and Jordan King behind him.

In the closing stages, De Vries came under huge pressure from Aitken behind. The Campos driver made the move for into turn 3 and demoted De Vries to sixth. Ghiotto’s gap grew to over 5 seconds over Latifi as the Italian tried to go for the fastest lap which was currently held by 4th place Camara.

Go Go Ghiotto

However, Ghiotto’s lead was unassailable and the Italian went on to win the Feature Race at Silverstone.

Latifi was five seconds adrift in second, with Zhou holding Camara for third place. Aitken claimed an impressive fifth, while De Vries came home in sixth, with Deletraz, Ilott, Matsushita and Kind rounding up the top ten.

 

After finishing in eighth, Illott will start tomorrow’s Sprint Race from Pole Position.

After stalling in the pit lane after his pit-stop, Giuliano Alesi finished in 17th and Hubert finished in 18th – both a lap down. Boccolacci was the only driver not to finish.

There was a strange collision on the final lap between Mazepin and Arjun Maini. Mazepin was nudged by Maini just one corner before the chequered flag, which left the Russian stranded on the grass.

De Vries’ lead Decreases

After the Feature Race, Nyck de Vries still led Formula 2 Driver Standings, but Latifi’s second place has reduced the gap from 37 to 27 points. Ghiotto’s victory has moved him to third, just one point ahead of Camara, with Zhou in fifth on 104 points.

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