Carlin's Nobuharu Matsushita triumphs in Austria F2 Feature Race
Carlin's Nobuharu Matsushita claimed his first FIA Formula 2 victory of the season in the Austrian Feature Race in a tough race filled with tyre management in the sweltering heat of the Styrian mountains.
The Honda-backed driver was unable to keep up with ART's Nyck De Vries in the early stages of the race as the Dutchman quickly began to gap the field.
Fortunes turned in favour of the Japanese driver in the second half of the race as Matsushita was able to claw back the time lost despite passing other drivers who had yet to stop. As De Vries' tyres fell away, the Japanese driver made his move on lap 35 and never looked back.
UNI-Virtuosi's Luca Ghiotto finished in second as he was able to match Matsushita throughout the race, moving up from his fifth-place starting place. The Italian was also able to pass De Vries on the same lap as Matsushita and swiftly leave the championship leader behind.
De Vries looked to be in full command of the race for the majority of the 40-lap race, but tyre life on the Soft Pirelli rubber became at a premium in the final laps as he became defenceless against Matsushita and Ghiotto.
Third place looked to be under threat in the final laps as BWT Arden's Anthoine Hubert bared down on De Vries but ran out of laps to pass for the final spot on the podium and had to settle for fourth.
In fifth was DAMS' Sergio Sette Camara after having to take a five-second penalty for hitting team-mate Nicholas Latifi despite finishing third on the road ahead of De Vries and Hubert.
Guanyu Zhou clawed his way back to finish in sixth place finish after the Renault-backed driver experienced what appeared to be gearbox issues on lap 9 after his UNI-Virtuosi slowed down on the pit straight, and took advantage of a five-second penalty for Louis Deletraz ahead of him on the road as the Swiss driver sped in the pit lane.
MP Motorsport's Jordan King stormed to an eighth place after he swiftly made his way through the field, moving up to 10th place on the opening lap after starting in 15th. King will now start Sunday's Sprint Race from pole position.
Rounding out the top 10 was Campos Racing's Jack Aitken and Juan Manuel Correa in ninth and 10th respectively.
Two rookies and F2 returnee made their F2 race debut in Austria as Arjun Maini finished in 15th on his F2 return with Campos Racing, Ryan Tveter was further back in 16th and Red Bull-backed IndyCar driver Patricio O'Ward finished 20th in the MP Motorsport.