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October 10, 2017

Challenging FIA F2 weekend for Pertamina Arden at Jerez

Pertamina Arden drivers Norman Nato and Sean Gelael endured a difficult weekend at the Jerez Circuit, where tyre wear played a crucial factor in both the Feature and Sprint Races

Pertamina Arden drivers Norman Nato and Sean Gelael endured a difficult weekend at the Jerez Circuit, where tyre wear played a crucial factor in both the Feature and Sprint Races.

FIA Formula 2 headed to Jerez, Spain for the tenth round of the 2017 Championship - running alongside the GP3 Series and EuroFormula Open Championship in a rare occasion where it was unable to run alongside the Formula One World Championship.

The Jerez Circuit was bathed in hot conditions all weekend, making tyre wear a decisive factor going into the racing - as the abrasive and technical circuit, mixed with hot track conditions would open up the strategies throughout the grid.

Qualifying took place in hot conditions, with the main objective to keep enough life in the Pirelli rubber to last the entire lap without taking too much out of your tyres to compromise the final sector. In a tight session with the best times coming near the end, Norman Nato set the 10th fastest time of the session, with teammate Gelael setting the 19th fastest lap.

Race one, the main feature race was to be a real test of strategy.- with 39 laps on a high tyre wear circuit. Nato got a good getaway to maintain position, before sticking to a tight line around turn two moved him up to 8th position before the drivers descended down the hill and complete the first lap. Gelael maintained 19th at the start, putting the pressure on the drivers ahead.
Nato had to defend hard from Artem Markelov to keep him behind as they all began to settle into the race pace leading into the inevitable pit stop phase, while Gelael had moved up a position.

Nato held 8th position until making his pitstop on lap 8 for the prime tyres to see out the rest of the race. Gelael was elevated to 16th in the process - the Indonesian driver making his pitstop one lap later.
Both drivers were trying to make the most of the fresh rubber to make up some progress by undercutting their rivals - however the DRS was proving to be quite ineffective, making overtaking moves very difficult to move through the traffic.

At half distance, Nato was 7th and Gelael up to 12th - both challenging for points paying finishing positions. Nato continued to make progress up to 6th position, overtaking Honda Junior Nobuhara Matsushita - with Gelael battling with Markelov for 12th.
With ten laps to go, tyre wear began to play a factor, as Gelael began to struggle with his tyres - making him vulnerable from attack from behind. Nato also succumbed to similar tyre issues with seven laps to go. The drivers who stopped much later began to reap the rewards at the end of the race.

A late safety car was deployed after contact between Matsushita and Ferrucci lead for a dramatic finish with six laps to go. Nato's advantage to his rivals was wiped out, leaving him almost powerless to prevent drivers on better rubber from overtaking him - as he crossed the line in 11th position in a dramatic finish which saw Charles Leclerc take the Driver's Championship. Sean Gelael came home in 17th after having to stop again for tyres in the closing stages.

The Sprint race saw Nato make a good launch from 11th before being baulked by the Campos of Ralph Boschung, but the Frenchman still made a good first lap to move up into 9th position. Gelael also made a good opening lap, moving up to 16th position.
Both were soon elevated another position after Jordan King retired with engine issues.

At half distance, Nato has moved up into 6th position and Gelael was running in 18th position. The race then once again became a task of tyre management - with some runners pitting early as a precaution for tyres. Some drivers managed to make it work by using the fresh tyres to set a rapid pace and come back through the field.

Nato held on to 10th at the flag, again just missing out on scoring points for Pertamina Arden. Teammate Gelael came home in 17th position in a difficult and challneging weekend for the team.

The FIA Formula 2 Season concludes at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on the 24-26 November, where the series will once again reunite with the Formula One World Championship - running as the feeder race to the main event and close out the championship season.

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