Leclerc Wins The Formula 2, While Russell Clinches The GP3 Title
The Feature Race winner’s tire strategy: Prema’s Charles Leclerc won the Feature Race at Jerez, marking his eighth victory of the season and overall win of the inaugural Formula 2 championship title for 2017. Leclerc had achieved a lead of over 10 seconds starting from pole position when he stopped to change from Pirelli’s soft tires to the used medium tires he ran in the qualifying session earlier. After his pit stop, Leclerc emerged in the midfield and then set about passing the drivers who had started on the Pirelli medium tire, before having to defend his lead when the safety car emerged close to the end of the race.
Charles Leclerc, Prema’s Formula 2 driver said: “On the soft tires we were very, very quick, but then we were struggling more on the medium. When I saw the safety car come out, I thought ‘OK, it’s going to get a lot harder now!’ but actually we managed to stay in front. In Formula 2, it’s clear that tire management is a big part of the championship.”
The Feature Race alternative tire strategy: Prema driver Antonio Fuoco finished third on the podium after starting 15th on the grid using the Pirelli medium tire compound for his first stint. Following Leclerc’s pit stop, Fuoco took over the lead before moving to the faster soft tire compound for his final stint. His alternative tire strategy nearly worked compared to Leclerc, which was assisted by a late safety car that erased Leclerc’s advantage. In the end, Fuoco finished third, just under a second behind the winner Leclerc.
The Sprint Race winner’s tire strategy: Tire strategy was again a hallmark of the sprint race, with Leclerc and Fuoco opting to pit for Pirelli soft tires at around the halfway point to benefit from this tire compound’s extra speed. For a long time it looked like these innovative tactics might work, before they began to slip out of contention at the very end: finishing seventh and fifth respectively. The Russian driver Artem Markelov took the lead on lap 23 and eventually won the Sprint Race, running Pirelli’s medium tires from start to finish.
The Feature Race winner: The ART GP3 driver Nirei Fukuzumi led a one-two-three podium finish for the ART team from pole position, winning ahead of his fellow team mates George Russell and Jack Aitken. Their intense battle allowed Fukuzumi to pull clear, claiming his second win of the season. The whole field ran on Pirelli hard tires, with very low levels of wear and degradation.
The Sprint Race winner: George Russell finished fifth to clinch the overall GP3 title at the end of the 17-lap Sprint Race, which was won by Jenzer’s Alessio Lorandi in his debut victory, who was in the lead from start to finish. The Pirelli hard tires allowed all drivers to push the maximum performance limit possible, despite the warm temperatures in Spain.
MARIO ISOLA, PIRELLI’S HEAD OF CAR RACING:
“It was an exciting weekend in Jerez with tight races in both Formula 2 and GP3, which crowned two very deserving champions. Both have won many races this year, and it’s no co-incidence that they have already been recruited as juniors by the top two teams in Formula 1. Tire strategy was at the heart of both races in Formula 2 this weekend, with Leclerc and Fuoco opting for a radical strategy in the sprint race. As Leclerc says, managing the tires properly is an essential part of Formula 2. In GP3, the hard tire on the recently-resurfaced Jerez track proved to be extremely durable and require less tire management.”
NEXT RACE WEEKEND Formula 2 and GP3 will resume for the final round in Abu Dhabi from November 24-26, back alongside Formula 1 after the stand-alone race weekend in Jerez.