The Le Castellet, Paul Ricard Circuit hosted Rounds 9 & 10 of the 2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship on the 22-24 June.
Qualifying saw the BWT Arden pair of Maximilian Günther and Nirei Fukuzumi set the 11th and 18th fastest times of the session respectively.
The Feature Race saw light rain fall as the cars gathered on the grid, prompted a mixture of cars on dry and wet tyres. Günther and Fukuzumi both made up ground at the start, avoiding the two stalled cars. The opening laps were treacherous, with the majority of the field on slicks – but negotiating wet ‘run-off’ areas and kerbs in the process. Günther moved himself into the points paying positions early on as the rain intensified – prompted some drivers to gamble on changing to wet tyres from the seventh lap onwards. Fukuzumi was up to 11th and in the hunt for points. Günther pitted for wet tyres on the ninth lap, just as a Virtual Safety Car (VSC) was deployed for a stranded car on track. As the VSC finished, the rain began to ease – disadvantaging all drivers who had pitted for wet tyres. This forced Günther to pit to change to the ‘Medium’ compound tyres on Lap 15, just before another VSC was deployed due to another car stopped on circuit.
Fukuzumi pitted from 10th position after 23 laps, swapping his ‘Medium’ tyres for ‘Super Soft’ tyres to finish the race. The Honda Junior driver re-join in 10th position, which he held to the chequered flag. Günther finished the race in 13th after his tyre gamble didn’t pay off. Post-race, both BWT Arden drivers were promoted a position in the final classification to 9th and 12th respectively – which is where they would start for the Sprint Race.
Drama unfolded at the start of the Sprint Race, with Fukuzumi being forced to start from the pitlane. Günther had to negotiate two cars stalled on the grid, crossing the line in 8th at the end of the opening lap. Fukuzumi began to come through the field and moved up to 15th early on despite the pitlane start.
Günther was holding the final points paying position for the majority of the race in 8th position, until Lap 11, where he was forced wide at the ‘Signes’ corner and dropped him out of the points paying position. Fukuzumi meanwhile had moved up into 12th position as he continued his battle back through the field. At the end of the race, Günther brought his BWT Arden home in 11th position, just ahead of teammate Fukuzumi.
The next round of the FIA F2 Championship takes place next weekend on the 29th June – 1st July at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. This will be the second race in a ‘triple header’ of race weekends in consecutive weeks for the championship.