George Russell rises from 12th to take Baku F2 victory

Mercedes F1 junior George Russell rose from 12th on the grid to claim his maiden F2 victory with a sublime drive in the Sprint Race at the Baku City Circuit.

Russell was on course for victory in Saturday’s Feature Race but a clash with Nyck de Vries sent him tumbling down the order, confirming his lowly grid spot for the second encounter.

Russell rocketed from 12th to fifth on the opening lap, aided by an array of stallers elsewhere, as he picked his way past rivals.

The Briton quickly overhauled Ralph Boschung, benefited when compatriot Lando Norris went wide, before breezing past Nicholas Latifi along the pit straight.

Russell faced a four-second deficit to leader Sergio Sette Camara, who grasped control of the race from Latifi on the second lap, but reeled in the Brazilian.

Russell’s prospects were aided by a mistake into Turn 1 from his Carlin rival, and he caught up with seven of the 21 laps remaining.

Russell grabbed the lead with a late braking move into Turn 1 but Sette Camara hit back into Turn 2 and defended through the next sequence of corners, despite running slightly deep.

However, Russell completed a clean move along the pit straight next time around to capture the lead, which he comfortably preserved across the closing stages.

“We were dominating yesterday, everyone saw what happened,” said Russell.

“We knew we had the pace to win the race from wherever we were starting and that’s what we did.”

Sette Camara took second, losing further time when he encountered the lapped Maximilian Gunther through the full-throttle section, while de Vries bagged third.

De Vries made progress from 14th on the grid and passed Latifi on the penultimate lap to secure a first podium of the season for Prema.

Norris recovered from his Turn 1 error to take fifth spot, and maintain his championship advantage by a single point over Sette Camara, while Trident secured its first points of the year courtesy of both Arjun Maini and Santino Ferrucci, the pair sixth and seventh.

Front-row starters Roberto Merhi and Boschung bogged down at the start and ultimately took eighth and ninth respectively, having battled for much of the race.

Formula 2 returns to action at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya from May 11-13