Championship contender Oliver Rowland started from fourth in qualifying with a time of 1:13.903 as runaway leader Charles Leclerc claimed his fifth pole in a row. The Monegasque driver was in unstoppable form clocking up a time of 1:13.396 to easily secure pole position ahead of his rivals.
“At the moment it’s quite hard to catch him (Leclerc), especially with his pace in qualifying: we need to address that, and if we can start taking 4 points and the feature race we’re not even halfway in, so there’s no reason why we can’t turn it around. We made a good step here in qualifying and the race again, and we’re finding stuff all the time, so fingers crossed as it’s a home race next time and it’s only 50 points: one bad weekend for him and a good one for us and we’re back in it, but we need to stay focused on our job.”
In the feature race Rowland made an uninspiring start on the option tyres and was chased down by Alexander Albon and Nobuharu Matsushita as well as his DAMS team-mate Latifi.
The 24-year-old attempted to make his strategy work, overtaking prime drivers and working tirelessly to close the gap, but the effort had taken a toll on Rowland’s tyres, allowing his rivals to regain a march on the DAMS driver.
Antonio Fuoco got through the Briton on lap 33, but it was championship leader Charles Leclerc who was too strong and extended his lead with a time of 52m21.629.
Rowland’s late charge through the field managed to secure him a credible 4th spot, recording a time of 52m27.311.
Artem Markelov dominated the morning’s FIA Formula 2 Sprint Race with Rowland securing a worthy podium finish in third behind Thai-British driver Alexander Albon, as championship leader Charles Leclerc crashed out.
Rowland tracked Albon for large parts of the race, eventually being close to a takeover on lap 12 before falling away towards the finish.
Unfortunately Rowland couldn’t pass Albon due to using a different gear in turn 2 to get off the corner, but applied plenty of pressure onto the ART Grand Prix driver, eventually securing solid points, setting a string of personal best laps in the process.
After the weekend, Leclerc extended his lead in the Drivers’ Championship to 151 points ahead of Rowland who now sits in second place on 102.
“Yesterday was pretty good and I finished 4th, but I had a bad start again today and had a problem with the clutch again on the green flag lap, but then I had probably the best start I’ve ever done, so it’s a bit confusing. I’m happy with the finish considering Charles didn’t manage to finish, and generally with the pace at the end I was very strong and generally very happy. It’s nice to get another podium as I haven’t been on since Monaco, now hopefully my home race at Silverstone next week I can push on and get some wins.”