Azerbaijan hosted round 2 of the FIA Formula 2 Championship in Baku. Both Günther and Fukuzumi had never driven around the street circuit before, so had to acclimatise quickly to the track in the sole Free Practice session on Friday morning.
After the one-hour session, Fukuzumi set the 10th fastest time, with teammate Günther setting the 13th fastest time – both on the Medium compound tyres, in preparation for the Feature Race on Saturday.
Qualifying started off dramatically. As Günther came around the first corner, he lost power and had to pull off to the side of the circuit. The session was briefly red flagged, allowing him to be pushed back into the garage and resume Qualifying.
In a disrupted session, with track position being few and far between, the BWT Arden pair were unable to get a clean lap for their second runs – resulting in Günther qualifying 17th, just one spot ahead of Fukuzumi in 18th.
The Feature Race saw Günther make a great start around the outside, avoiding some stalled cars to reach 12th position, before he was hit from behind by Louis Deletraz and picked up a puncture. Honda Junior Fukuzumi made a brilliant start, gaining eight positions to move into the points in 10th.
The Safety Car was soon deployed after Campos Racing’s Luca Ghiotto crashed on the exit of turn 16. Günther came into the pits for a tyre change at the end of the lap.
The race resumed on lap 4, with a huge slipstream into turn 1. Fukuzumi moved into 9th by going around the outside of Ralph Boschung, later moving up to 7th after passing Artem Markelov ad Roy Nissany in successive laps.
Günther sadly came to a halt on the entrance into turn 4, with suspension damage following his turn 1 incident.
Fukuzumi pitted for the Medium compound tyres on lap 8, re-joining the race in a net 7th position after a bold move around the outside of Sergio Sette Camara and Markelov. After lap 17 however, Fukuzumi appeared to be in trouble, dropping back through the field with technical issues.
A second Safety Car occurred when Nissany crashed at turn 4. Fukuzumi was forced to pit to attempt to clear his technical issues. He came back out of the pits in 14th position, however he was unable to make much further progress in the race at the chequered flag, finishing in 13th.
Fukuzumi and Günther would start the Sprint Race from 13th and 18th position respectively. Antonio Fuoco stopped on the Formation Lap, promoting the two BWT Arden’s up a position.
Günther however stalled at the start of the race, with the notoriously difficult new F2/18 Dallara proving very difficult to get off the line cleanly. Teammate Fukuzumi moved up to 12th position at the end of the opening lap, in a fourcar train for 8th position and the final points paying position.
Fukuzumi gained another position up to 11th on lap 12, as Sean Gelael hit the barriers on the exit of turn 1. Günther had re-joined and was running in 15th position after his delayed start.
With 6 laps to go, Günther began to slow – after a plastic bag, which had found it’s way onto the circuit got lodged in his sidepod and forced him to retire from the race.
Fukuzumi finished the race in 13th position, with Günther sadly not finishing.
It was a far from ideal weekend for the team on the streets of Baku, however they are ready to fight back at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, on the 11th-13th May for the third round of the 2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship.