ART Grand Prix’s George Russell moved to within just two points of Formula 2 title rival Lando Norris after claiming his fourth win of 2018 at the Red Bull Ring. 

The Mercedes Formula 1 junior converted pole position into victory for the second time in a week, despite not leading most of the race due to an alternative strategy carried out by Russian Time’s Artem Markelov. 

Carlin’s Norris crossed the line five seconds behind his fellow countryman to take his fifth podium of the season, having been forced to battle his way back to second after losing two positions following a Safety Car period, while Antonio Fuoco rose from 11th to claim the final spot on the rostrum with a brilliant charge through the pack. 

In the first race to feature the new rolling start procedure - introduced following a spate of issues relating to the new generation of 2018 F2 car that has caused a multitude of drivers to stall on the grid this year - Russell controlled the pace at the front when the Safety Car peeled into the pitlane to keep Norris at bay. 

An early Safety Car to clear Ralph Boschung’s stricken MP Motorsport car prompted the majority of the field running on Supersofts to take the opportunity to pit and switch onto Softs at the end of Lap 6, including race leaders Russell and Norris, who returned to the circuit in the same formation. 

The Safety Car was deployed for a second time at the half-way stage when Jack Aitken’s ART suddenly developed a mechanical issue that caused him to plummet down the order before he came to a halt at the exit of Turn 1. 

Norris was caught napping by Maximilian Gunther at the restart as the Arden driver dived down the inside at Turn 1 to snatch fifth, before the Briton lost a further position to Roberto Merhi shortly afterwards, all of which provided Russell with some extra breathing space. 

Running a long opening stint on Soft tyres in a bid to make significant progress from his lowly starting position of 18th, Markelov held the race lead having passed Trident’s Arjun Maini, before ultimately relinquishing first place to Russell when he finally stopped with there laps remaining. 

MP Motorsport’s Merhi had to settle with fourth after being pipped by Fuoco on the last lap, while the leading DAMS of Alexander Albon finished fifth, ahead of Sergio Sette Camara and Takasuke Makino. 

Having returned to the circuit in 12th after taking on a fresh set of Supersofts,  Markelov turned in a sublime final three laps, setting the fastest lap of the race as he sythced through the field.

The Renault F1 junior remarkably passed four cars on the final lap alone, snatching eighth place and reverse grid pole for Sunday’s sprint race with a thrilling late lunge on Nirei Fukuzumi at the final corner. Trident's Santino Ferrucci beat Nicholas Latifi to claim the final point in 10th by less than a second. 

F2 Austria Feature Race Results

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