Louis Delétraz took a superb maiden virtual Formula 2 win in Round 3 on the streets of Monte Carlo, Monaco. The Swiss ace, who started from P4 on the grid, defeated Lirim Zendeli thanks to an alternate tyre strategy, whilst local hero Arthur Leclerc was handed the Sprint Race win as Juan Manuel Correa, who crossed the line first, fell victim to time penalties and lost the victory.
Zendeli started strongly from pole position of the 21-lap Feature Race, and following a perfect getaway, the Trident driver kept the lead into Turn 1, while Jack Aitken lost two positions to Leclerc and Delétraz. Thirsty for some champagne on home soil, the Monegasque driver immediately put pressure on Zendeli in the opening lap, but Delétraz was staying close in 3rd.
On the second lap, the Swiss driver of Charouz Racing System went around the outside of Leclerc at the hairpin in a very bold move that allowed him to take P2. Aitken was also able to pass the PREMA racer, who tried to take the position back at La Rascasse, but the Briton defended well.
By Lap 3, Zendeli had a 0.9s lead over Delétraz, but the gap was reduced to 0.3s a lap later as the German was running on the harder compounds. Further down the pack, Théo Pourchaire overtook Leclerc for P4.
On Lap 8, Delétraz, along with Aitken and Leclerc, pitted for the Soft tyres, leaving Zendeli alone at the front to push in order to build a big enough gap to the Swiss driver in preparation to switch for the Supersofts. Meanwhile, a feisty Leclerc attempted to make a move at Turn 1 on Aitken, but the Monegasque driver ended up making contact with the wall, allowing Pourchaire to slip through for P4 on the track.
Zendeli pitted from the lead on Lap 15, allowing Delétraz to pass the German as the latter came out of the pits. Behind the leading pair, Pourchaire and Leclerc passed Aitken for third and fourth respectively. The Frenchman from ART Grand Prix was quickly under huge pressure from Leclerc but kept his cool.
At the front, Zendeli stayed tight to Delétraz, until a small mistake made the German slightly touch the wall which gave the Swiss a bit of room to breathe. With two laps left in the race, Zendeli was under a second behind Delétraz whilst Pourchaire in 3rd was running 10s behind the pair, and still under pressure from Leclerc.
On Lap 20, an unfortunate loss of connection meant Zendeli left the session, thus promoting both Pourchaire and Leclerc to 2nd and 3rd.On the final lap, the PREMA racer took a risk into Mirabeau, but Pourchaire managed to fend off well. A bit too eager to take P2, Leclerc eventually span off the podium at the exit of the tunnel, allowing Aitken to take P3.
Delétraz was under no threat as he crossed the finish line in first – nearly 12s ahead of Pourchaire who lost P2 to Aitken after the time penalties were applied. The Frenchman still classified 3rd and secured a maiden F2 virtual podium.
Enzo Fittipaldi took 4th ahead of a dejected Zendeli; also penalised following exceeding track limits, Leclerc classified 6th ahead of Williams, Correa, Marcus Armstrong and Felipe Drugovich, who made up the top 10.
It was Correa who started on reverse pole and kept the lead of the sprint race whilst Leclerc overtook Williams for P2 into Turn 1. The Monegasque driver was all soon hassling Correa and even tried a move on Lap 2, but to no avail as the American stayed in front.
In the short span of the 5 laps of the race, Correa sustained pressure from Leclerc who tried another move on Lap 4 at Rascasse. The two made small contact but the positions remained the same.
Further down, Delétraz had worked his way up to P4 and looked hungry for more as he closed in on Williams for another podium finish. However, the Jenzer Motorsport driver managed to stay ahead of the more experienced racer.
On the final lap, Correa was on his way to a maiden F2 victory before receiving two 2s time penalties for exceeding track limits. The American crossed the line in first but he knew he couldn’t celebrate, as Leclerc soon crossed the line for the win as Delétraz was promoted to P2 ahead of teammate Correa. Williams finished 4th after time penalties were applied, in front of Callum Ilott, Pourchaire and Aitken.
The fourth and final round of F2 Virtual Racing will take place on Sunday 7th of June on the Baku City Circuit.
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