F2: Latifi wins Bahrain Feature Race after storming drive

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Nicholas taking the chequered flag for DAMS in the Formula 2 Feature Race in Bahrain. Image sourced from @damsracing via Twitter.

DAMS Nicholas Latifi battled back to win the opening race of the 2019 Formula 2 Season with Luca Ghiotto in second and Sergio Sette Camara in third.

After qualifying on Pole Position, Luca Ghiotto had a poor start due to a clutch issue, which had also hampered the Italian getting off the line during the Formation Lap.

Taking advantage of Ghiotto’s poor start, Louis Deletraz led into Turn 1 followed by Nyck de Vries and Nicholas Latifi.

However, after getting a better run off of Turn 4, Latifi was able to pass De Vries after going side-by-side through Turns 5 and 6.

Ghiotto had dropped down to sixth position after the first lap, whilst Camara, was down to 12th.

On Lap 3, Latifi set the fastest lap with a 1:48:870 to keep in touch of race leader Deletraz.

Behind them,  Nikita Mazepin overtook Anthoine Hubert for seventh place with a late lung into Turn 1.

Camara had been able to overtake Mick Schumacher tenth and was chasing Sean Gelael for ninth position.

The top three at this stage consisted of Deletraz, Latifi and De Vries, who were pulling away from the chasing pack led by Jack Aitken.

A scary moment for took place for Gelael occured on Lap 5 as the Prema driver approached Turn 1 and lost the rear of his car, spinning the Indonesian driver and facing backwards as his DRS was stuck open.

The car jumped over the kerb and came to a halt in the run-off area. Fortunately, no contact with any other driver was made but Gelael became first retirement of the new season.

Anthoine Hubert is able to overtake rival Nikita Mazepin, with the help of DRS into turn 1 for seventh place.

Climbing back up the grid, Camara is able to overtake Mazepin for eighth on Lap 7.

Behind the leaders, Nobuharu Matsushita passes Aitken for fourth place with Ghiotto also looking feisty behind the Brit.

Deletraz is starting to struggle as the race heats up. Latfifi then pulls to the outside of Deletraz, who defends the inside to turn 1, but the Canadian driver executes an incredible move by going round the outside of Deleltraz of turn 1 to take the lead.

Ghiotto lunges down the inside of Aitken of turn 8 to take 5th place.

Latifi is able to instantly pull away with Deletraz under a huge amount of pressure from De Vries behind.

Ghiotto continues his fightback and overtakes Matsushita for fourth eventually at turn 13 where the pair went side-by-side for three corners.

Mazepin is starting to fall back and is now overtaken by Schumacher for ninth place.

On Lap 12, Aitken is able to overtake Matsushita for 5th with a lunge into turn 4 as Latifi’s lead has extended to 4 seconds.

 

After the pit stop phase, De Vries led proceedings ahead of Matsushita, Deletraz and Latifi, with the top 6 covered by just 8 seconds.

Latifi had a slow pit stop and set about making up for lost time. On the approach to Turn 1, the Canadian took advantage of his new tyres to pass  Deletraz and Matsushita in quick succession to move into second place.

With 10 laps to go, Latifi eventually took the lead from De Vries and went on to win the first race on the 2019 Formula 2 season.

Further back, Ghiotto pulled off an excellent manoeuvre at Turn 1, passing both Deletraz and Camara to finish second.

Camara claimed third for Carlin, whilst Anthonie Hubert put in an impressive performance on his F2 debut to finish fourth.

Deletraz and De Vries both dropped back to fifth and sixth respectively with tyre wear issues, with Jack Aitken seventh ahead of Formula Three European Champion, Mick Schumacher.

Nobuharu Matsushita and Guanyu Zhou rounded up the top ten.

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