Alexander Albon clings on to Azerbaijan victory in chaotic race
Alexander Albon claimed his maiden Formula 2 victory in difficult conditions as a chaotic Azerbaijan feature race played out around him.
The DAMS driver started from pole and immediately dropped to second behind George Russell, but was able to recapture the lead at Turn 3 as he slipstreamed the ART racer and was then better on the brakes.
The race was neutralised after that as the Safety Car made its first of two appearances due to two separate opening-lap incidents.
Sean Gelael, Louis Deletraz and Maximilian Gunther made contact at Turn 1, with Deletraz retiring with damage, before Luca Ghiotto crashed heavily exiting Turn 16, losing third place.
Albon was able to keep Russell at bay until the Mercedes-backed driver pitted; Albon did the same a lap later but a sloppy stop cost him dearly, dropping him to third with a 10-second gap to leader Russell.
Nyck de Vries found himself in second but struggled to keep pace with Russell, who opened up a four-second lead in just a few laps, but that was short-lived as the Safety Car made its second appearance for Campos Racing's Roy Nissany, who found the barriers.
The restart was a dramatic one as at Turn 1 leaders Russell and de Vries struggled with cold brakes and ran wide. Albon, running third, also went deep, and while he was able to recover to the track, lost out to Antonio Fuoco.
Fuoco was unable to shake off Albon and the Anglo-Thai driver made his move when an engine failure for Artem Markelov blanketed the middle sector in smoke, allowing Albon to pounce for the lead, where he'd remain until the chequered flag.
A charging Jack Aitken picked rivals off one-by-one and moved up to third before he too found a way past Fuoco to claim second place.
Aitken had taken the first restart from 17th place, having stalled at the start, but worked his way forwards throughout the race, profiting from his own passes and trouble elsewhere.
Ferrari-backed Fuoco completed the podium, the first in Formula 2 for Charouz.
Sergio Sette Camara was fourth for Carlin ahead of Nicholas Latifi, who enjoyed a great drive to finish fifth despite starting last.
Sette Camara's team-mate Lando Norris was sixth after recovering from a formation lap stall, with MP Motorsport team-mates Ralph Boschung and Roberto Merhi in seventh and eighth.
Russell recovered to finish 12th after his off at Turn 1 whilst de Vries failed to finish, one of seven retirements.