In total there were 10 different race winners during the 2017 FIA Formula 2 Championship. In his remarkable debut season, Charles Leclerc achieved the most wins with seven, two more than Artem Markelov, and five of the Monegasque’s wins were in feature races.
But it was one of his two sprint race wins that stands out in particular from a tyre perspective. To take his maiden F2 win in Bahrain, he unusually made a pit-stop in the middle of the sprint race. From position six on the grid, starting on the P Zero White medium tyre, he worked his way into the lead and opened up an advantage of 9.4 seconds.
Then, on lap 14, he headed for the pit-lane, with his PREMA team switching his medium tyres for P Zero Yellow softs. Over the remaining nine laps, he passed 13 cars to win by 1.569 seconds.
The result gave Leclerc the championship lead, which he would hold for 224 days consecutively until the final race in Abu Dhabi on November 26. He guaranteed himself the championship 50 days earlier, when he won the feature race in Jerez by just 0.23 seconds over rival Oliver Rowland after a close battle on the medium and soft tyres.
As well as impressive race performances, Leclerc shone in qualifying, claiming pole position eight times out of a possible 11. He was actually fastest in nine qualifying sessions, but was excluded at the Hungaroring for a technical infringement. This created the smallest pole position margin of the season, with Rowland beating Markelov by 0.075 seconds.
Among Leclerc’s stand-out qualifying performances was the one time this season that the wet tyre was used to set pole position: at Spa-Francorchamps (unsurprisingly). His pole-winning margin of 0.668s in Belgium was the biggest of the year as he demonstrated his skill in the difficult conditions.
Underlining the competitiveness of F2, seven of the 10 teams won races, with eight of them achieving podium finishes. There were seven drivers who won one race: Luca Ghiotto, Nicholas Latifi, Nobuharu Matsushita, Nyck de Vries, Antonio Fuoco, Norman Nato and Sergio Sette Camara.
Fuoco took his win in the season’s one wet race at Monza. Three other drivers – Leclerc, de Vries and Ghiotto – battled for the victory in the final laps, and when Leclerc and de Vries collided on the last lap, Ghiotto was free to take the chequered flag, only to later be penalised.
Ghiotto did strike back the next day with a sprint race victory on the medium tyre in dry conditions. It was an important contribution to RUSSIAN TIME’s teams’ championship success, as was the fact that Ghiotto scored points in all but two races. Team-mate Markelov claimed the two points for fastest lap more times than anybody else, in six races, demonstrating his ability to extract the best from the tyres.