Ferrari Academy driver Antonio Fuoco claimed a dominant lights to flag victory in the final Formula 2 race of the 2018 season in Abu Dhabi.
Fuoco started second for the reverse grid sprint race but instantly launched ahead of polesitter Roberto Merhi off the line.
The Charouz Racing System driver commanded a consistent two-second margin over second-placed Merhi throughout the race to take victory.
Ex-Formula 1 driver Merhi ended up third, after losing out to Carlin’s Lando Norris on the final lap of the race.
Merhi’s defence of second had been aided by the fact that a field-wide DRS failure occurred at mid-distance, meaning that no driver had access to the overtaking tool for the remainder of the race.
Norris, who had passed Prema Racing’s Nyck de Vries in the opening stages, managed to close in on Merhi in the closing laps.
McLaren F1-bound Norris dived to the inside of Merhi at the hairpin Turn 7 on the final lap. Compromising Merhi’s corner exit, the two ran side-by-side into the Turn 8 braking zone. Merhi locked up, running deep into the corner and Norris seized second place.
Norris’ sprint race result makes him the 2018 vice-champion, as he jumped Alexander Albon in the points’ battle. Albon ended the final race in eighth place.
Crowned champion with Saturday’s feature race win, George Russell was not close enough to Merhi to capitalise on his last lap mistake, as the ART Grand Prix racer finished a further five seconds back in fourth place.
Russell had dropped to sixth place early on, as he was passed by Louis Deletraz at a virtual safety car restart on lap three. The champion quickly recovered and later dispatched de Vries, who finished fifth.
Deletraz ensured that Charouz ended it’s first season in F2 with two cars in the top six for the final race.
He held off Artem Markelov in the Russian’s final F2 race. Markelov passed Dorian Boccolacci and Luca Ghiotto early on, but was unable to clear Deletraz with the DRS offline.
Markelov ran off-track five times during the race while attempting to pass for sixth place, missing chicanes on three occasions.
Albon was one of the few drivers to make an overtake after the DRS issues. He demoted Luca Ghiotto to ninth place on the final lap, muscling his way through at the tight Turns 12 and 13 chicane.
The lap one virtual safety car was triggered by Sean Gelael. The Prema driver dived to the inside of Jack Aitken at Turn 14, tagging Niko Kari into a spin.
Both drivers retired, along with Russian Time’s Tadasuke Makino who was collaterally caught up in the tangle.