Following on from their maiden FIA Formula 2 victory in Baku, Azerbaijan - Norman Nato put his Pertamina Arden machine 10th on the grid in a super close qualifying session which favoured those who were last across the line, avoiding traffic and getting a slipstream up the hill into turn 3. Teammate Sean Gelael was less fortunate and set the 16th fastest time of the session.
The start was hectic but saw Nato make good progress up to vault himself up to 8th position, battling with title contender Oliver Rowland for 6th throughout the opening two laps. Gelael made up four positions to cross the line 12th at the end of the lap. Nato continued to make progress by taken 7th position just two laps later. Disaster however struck just two laps later, as a technical gremlin for Nato saw his charge blunted on the exit of the final corner, causing him to retire from the race.
Gelael continued on and was challenging for the points positions in the forty lap Feature Race. He made his pitstop onto the Soft tyres early on and was challenged with having to make them last for the duration of the race. Nevertheless, the Indonesian driver stuck to the task - setting an impressive pace. Whilst his rivals around him were struggling under traction - Gelael made full use of his tyre management to gain three position in the closing stages of the race, sending it up the inside into turn three each time to get himself into 10th position.
He managed to hold onto this position at the end of the race to bag his first points of the season in FIA Formula 2.
The sprint race saw Gelael start from 10th position and Nato from 20th after his unfortunate retirement in the Feature Race. The Pertamina Arden duo both made great launches and narrowly missed the slow starting Ralph Boschung. Gelael had a great run on the outside of turn tree but was sent into a spin - dropping him to the rear of the field just before a safety car was deployed due contact on the start/finish straight. Nato had managed to elevate himself to 15th position from his starting berth.
The race was restarted on lap 5, both drivers managed to take advantage and gain a further two positions each to 13th and 16th respectively for Nato and Gelael, before the virtual safety car period was issued after championship leader Charles Leclerc was span out of contention. Contact up ahead on the restart further aided the Arden recovery as Nyck de Vries and Gustav Malija collided into turn four.
The order remained stagnated for the next dozen laps, but both Pertamina Arden drivers had good pace and began to fight their way forward as tyre wear became a factor. With three laps to go, the duo made up a further two positions up to 9th and 11th in the closing stages of the race. Nato overtook Canamasas on the penultimate lap to get himself into the points and complete a brilliant comeback from the back of the grid.
At the chequered flag, Nato crossed the line in 8th position - but was elevated to 7th after Nicholas Latifi was handed a 5-second penalty for speeding in the pitlane during the early safety car period. Gelael finished in 11th position, also recovering well after being turned around at turn three on the opening tour of the circuit.
At the half way point of the FIA Formula 2 season, Nato is currently 8th overall in the Driver's Championship, with teammate Gelael 17th after getting his maiden points score of the season. Pertamina Arden are 6th overall in the Team's Championship.
The FIA Formula 2 Championship quickly heads over to the home race for the team at Silverstone in just one weeks time on the 13-16 July, with the aim of a strong result on home soil the main focus.