Stephen Camp  |    |   0  |  30 March 2019

Nicholas Latifi overcomes pit drama to claim Bahrain victory

Nicholas Latifi romped to victory in the opening race of the 2019 FIA Formula 2 season in the Bahrain feature race despite suffering a slow pitstop in the race.

Latifi got a superb start and climbed his way to the lead by lap 9 and quickly built a gap to the chasing pack behind. His rivals seemingly having no answer to his rapid pace.

The Canadian made his mandatory pitstop on lap 17 to switch to the soft tyres, however, a problem on the right rear meant his stop was delayed. After dropping to fourth once the field had shaken out after everyone had stopped, the DAMS driver pushed hard and passed his rivals to clinch the win.

UNI-Virtuosi's Luca Ghiotto started from pole position but after clutch trouble on the formation lap where he bogged down and nearly stalled the car, he had a troubled getaway when the race got underway and dropped to as low as sixth.

His pace was evident as he made his way back through the field, the Italian also made a stunning double pass into Turn 1 on Deletraz and DAMS' Sergio Sette Camara on lap 25 and eventually finished second.

Camara led a largely quiet but solid race to claim the final spot on the podium having started from eighth on the grid.

GP3 champion Anthoine Hubert performed well on his F2 debut for BWT Arden. A tough qualifying saw him start 11th, but strong race pace saw him cross the line in fourth place.

Deletraz stopped earlier than most of his rivals and lost out in the latter stages of the race after running with the leaders, he had to settle for fifth ahead of ART's Nyck De Vries who also suffered from fading tyres in the final laps.

Campos' Jack Aitken lost out in the opening laps having started from fifth and was unable to keep up with the pacesetters around him, the British driver ended the race in seventh.

Mick Schumacher improved from his starting position of 10th and will start Sunday's sprint race from pole after he finished eighth on his F2 debut with PremaPower Racing, passing Honda-backed Nobuhara Matsushita on the final lap after the Japanese driver fell off the cliff with his tyres.

China's Guanyu Zhou finished in tenth after starting from a lowly 17th place and picks up two extra points for the fastest lap.

The first female to race in F2 for over 20 years saw Tatiana Calderon finish in 13th place on her debut after running long into the race, she is one of the last drivers to make their stop, passing the Charouz of Callum Ilott on the final lap, despite being over 20 seconds behind when she made her stop.

The only retirement came from Sean Gelael who spun out of the race at Turn 1 after his DRS flap failed to close, leading him to pitch his Prema around and narrowly avoid hitting anyone else.

Sunday's sprint race will start at 15:10 local time.

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