Tatiana Calderon ends maiden F2 season with P14 in Abu Dhabi race 2
Colombian Tatiana Calderon concluded a tough F2 season with a good drive from P16 on the grid to 14th in Abu Dhabi sprint race.
The 2019 FIA Formula 2 came to a close after Sunday's sprint race at Yas Marina Circuit, won by Italian racer Luca Ghiotto.
Colombian Tatiana Calderon finished P16 in Saturday's feature race and thus took the start to her last seasonal race from the 8th row of the grid, alongside Sauber Junior Marevos Isaakyan. Reverse grid poleman Giuliano Alesi had a clean start and held the race lead after the first corner, while other front row starter Nicholas Latifi suffered too much wheelspin and lost out second to Luca Ghiotto.
Calderon, starting the last Arden Motorsport race in the second tier, had a good start and advanced to 15th place, while teammate Artem Markelov gained five positions after starting from the back.
Alesi immediately tried to open up a gap on the chasing group: the Frenchman early push will later reveal a vital mistake in race strategy for the Trident driver.
Ghiotto and Latifi battled for second, just as the Carlin drivers Matsushita and Deletraz started a race-long intra-team fight.
Already-crowned champion Nyck De Vries had another struggling race and dropped down to 16th, one place behind Calderon. He managed to pass the BWT Arden #18 car at lap 3, with Calderon trying to manage her tyres in another heavily tyre-saving race.
Most of the field, in fact, spent the whole first half of the race on degradation-management mode.
Matsushita moved past Deletraz on the fifth lap, while yesterday's race winner Sergio Sette Camara started to move up the standings on lap 7, when he completed a good pass on Schumacher at turn 11.
Ahead, Ghiotto and Latifi made every point count in the battle for vice-champion title: the Canadian stripped the UNI Virtuosi driver of the fastest lap point, before Ghiotto closed in on Alesi, whose performances started to go off the cliff. Soon after, Ghiotto made a move stick on Alesi at turn 11 and went into the lead.
Sette Camara kept charging through the top-10 and replicated the same move on Deletraz, who came under pressure from Schumacher.
Latifi overtook an increasingly slowing Alesi, with Ghiotto comfortably in the lead.
Markelov pitted with the same gearbox issues that forced him to retire from both the Sochi round and Abu Dhabi's feature race. Not a great end of the season for the Russian, who will be back in 2020 in F2 with HWA after one year in the Japanese SuperFormula.
Alesi dropped to 4th as Callum Ilott took away the podium spot from the Trident driver, who definitely asked too much from his tyres in the opening laps.
With 10 laps to go, Setta Camara passed Matsushita for fifth and Alesi for fourth, while Matsushita resumed his fight with Carlin teammate Deletraz, now more comfortable with the state of his tyres.
In the closing stages, Gelael parked his Prema car at the end of the support series pitlane, triggering the first Virtual Safety Car: a second VSC will be deployed after a contact between Isaakyan and Mazepin. Both the Russian drivers will be forced to retire as a result of the incident.
It was good news for Ghiotto, who could manage a 3.7 gap from Latifi with few laps to go.
At the restart, Callum Ilott almost lost it under braking at turn 8, in a desperate attempt to defend P3 from the quicker Sette Camara, who ultimately went by.
On the last lap Jack Aitken passed King and Schumacher - the first move being investigated after the race for a potential track cut.
Luca Ghiotto, undisturbed, crossed the line and took home the last 2019 victory for Formula 2, in what it may also be his last single-seater race. The Italian has in fact announced that he will be joining Aston Martin for a GT program in 2020.
Latifi, already signed by Williams for a F1 seat next year, was second and claimed the runner-up spot in the final standings. Sette Camara completed a near-perfect weekend with another podium, ahead of Ilott, Alesi, Deletraz, Matsushita and Aitken.
Tatiana Calderon, after a clean race, completed her season with a good drive in P14, moving up two places from her race start. It was a tough maiden season in the highest feeder series for the Colombian ace, who will now try to secure a second year in Formula 2.
It was a hard season her team as well, obviously marked by the passing of Anthoine Hubert at Spa Francorchamps.
With Arden Motorsport discontinuing their F2 program, Calderon will now evaluate every option before revealing her 2020 racing schedule.
Ph credits: F2 Media