By The1nsider 2 weeks ago




Let’s count the things that Russell brought back with him from Spielberg: pole position, a win, another podium, 41 points…and the championship lead. Having won here in the GP3 Series last year, Russell came into Austria knowing exactly what to do – and the British driver delivered in every single way. Topping the practice session, the ART Grand Prix ace took pole by 0.2s from title rival Norris, before producing a calm and measured performance in the Feature Race to claim his fourth victory of 2018. His Sprint Race was also impressive, and Russell surged through the pack on the opening laps to climb up to second before opting to consolidate his position – jumping Norris in the drivers’ standings with a 10-point lead. He’ll be heading into his home race at Silverstone with a huge grin on his face.


Having been bottom of last week’s rankings, Markelov looked to be on for more abject disappointment after only managing 18th in qualifying…not that a lowly grid spot has ever stopped him before. Instead, Markelov showed off his exceptional tyre management skills and took advantage of his alternate strategy run to clinch eighth place, picking off a number of cars at the end in a spectacular fashion to secure the reverse grid pole – dispatching Günther, Latifi and Ferrucci in the same corner! From there, the Russian driver dominated the Sprint Race to reignite his title hopes, and climbs up to third in the standings. He just needs to nail qualifying in Silverstone…


Looking at the form book, the last time Fuoco failed to register a points finish was in the second race at Baku. Since then the Italian has displayed great consistency, and has continued his terrific form into the round at Austria. Of course, it didn’t exactly look that way from the start – qualifying 13th, Fuoco picked up damage and had to pit early for a new nosecone, rejoining the race at the back. But then, the Charouz driver displayed great maturity and was patient in his movements through the field, preserving his tyres until the final stages before barging his way into third place to claim his third podium of the year. Fuoco then followed this up with fourth in the sprint race, suggesting that the Ferrari Academy driver is this year’s dark horse.


If the weekend in France was a step forward for Nyck de Vries, then the weekend in Austria was two steps back. The Dutchman secured a long-awaited first win of the season in Le Castellet, and hoped that the pendulum would remain in his favour at the Red Bull Ring. Instead, the PREMA driver had an uncharacteristically poor qualifying to line up in ninth, and elected to trial the alternate strategy by starting on the prime tyres. However, this left him in a predicament when gifted with a puncture early in the race, and de Vries had to call in and retire in order to ensure he had a set of Pirellis left for Sunday’s race. Although he made some progress in the Sprint, de Vries was already compromised and struggled to make any inroads into the points-scoring positions, leaving him to fall down the championship order as his rivals all scored.


Just as things were starting to look up for the Spanish squad, Austria emerged to be a weekend to forget for Campos as they were unable to capitalise on Luca Ghiotto’s double-podium finish in France. Qualifying was tough, with Ghiotto only able to manage 11th as Nissany started the race from last – the Israeli’s Saturday lasting just three laps before pulling in to retire. Ghiotto, meanwhile, was in the pits when his team were caught by Maximilian Gunther’s unsafe release, and the German dragged an air line into the Campos pit which knocked down one their mechanics. Luckily, the mechanic avoided serious injury, but had to endure a trip to the medical centre – on his birthday of all days. The Sprint Race was also forgettable for Campos, who will hope to be back on form in Silverstone.


  Issue 18 F2 Feature
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