Russian Time driver Artem Markelov was gifted victory in Saturday's Formula 2 Feature Race at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi after Oliver Rowland was disqualified following post-race scrutineering.
Race stewards clarified that the skidblock on the Brits car was below the agreed thickness, which results in an automatic disqualification from the race.
"I am so sad to be disqualified from the Feature Race," Rowland said. "But I'm very proud of the race today. I'm proud of my team and everyone that has helped me this far."
The feature race victory would have been Rowland’s third victory of the year in the final race of the 2017 season, capping off a fine campaign and securing second spot in the drivers’ championship.
Rowland, who started in fourth wasted no time in making his charge, moving to third on the very first lap. Then a superb move on lap 8 allowed the DAMS driver to leapfrog past Markelov at turn 8 placing the Brit at the front of the pack.
Eventually Leclerc and de Vries pitted for their tyre change allowing Rowland to power into first place, meaning the already crowned champion Leclerc was unable to hunt down his former rival as Rowland, relaxed and comfortable out front crossed the line for an outstanding victory.
“It’s always tricky here, I had a couple of wheel spins, and I had say to myself calm down, you’ve passed them all now, do your race and go. Luckily after that I managed to recompose, and everything was fine and I'm very proud of the race today.”
In a close Sprint race that came down to the final lap at Yas Marina, Charles Leclerc finished his championship campaign with a nail-biting final win, securing the Ferrari junior driver a seventh win in 2017.
A remarkable drive from Rowland eventually saw the Brit finishing in seventh place after starting at the back of the pack in 20th following his feature race disqualification.
Driving to 13th on the opening lap, Rowland quickly made his way into the points before finally getting held up behind close rival Artem Markelov, finishing the race in a very respectable 7th spot considering the pre-race circumstances.
The feature race disqualification means Rowland finishes the season in third place with Artem Markelov taking the runner-up spot behind runaway champion Charles Leclerc.
The Renault F1 development driver amassed 191 points over the campaign, 19 points behind Artem Markelov and 6 points clear of Luca Ghiotto in fourth spot to complete a successful Formula 2 season.
“For me I wouldn’t be here without DAMS, and I feel I owe them quite a lot: We’ve pushed the team extremely hard this year and they have delivered with the car, especially in the races. I'm still very proud of the race this weekend. I'm proud of my team and everyone that has helped me this far."