The Japanese racer started fifth on the grid but soon powered to the lead of the race pulling a strong gap to his competitors along the way. Crossing the line to take victory Matsushita, and his fellow podium finishers, went on to touchingly dedicate the race result to their friend and fellow racer Anthoine Hubert who tragically lost his life in Spa as the French national anthem poignantly played on the podium.
Following a 45-minute practice session on Friday the Carlin duo had high hopes for qualifying later that day with Louis Delétraz having set the third quickest time and Honda-backed Matsushita the fourth. However qualifying was a tense affair and as the flag fell to mark the end of the session Matsushita had secured fifth place on the grid despite spinning into the gravel mid-way through the session, with Delétraz ninth following the disqualification of Championship leader Nyck de Vries.
When the lights extinguished on Saturday, Matsushita powered his way up to second place behind Callum Ilott. However, it was opposite fortunes for Delétraz who found himself in a spin and stranded on the side of the Italian circuit after contact with Jordan King; bringing his Feature Race to a disappointing and early end.
At the front the battle for the lead was hotting up as Matsushita closed the gap to Ilott; using the DRS zone to his advantage, the Carlin driver was able to run wheel to wheel with Ilott and, in a well calculated moved, stole the lead. Soon after this the leaders pulled into the pit lane for their mandatory pit stop and following a fantastic pit stop from the Carlin crew Matsushita was released on track to wait for the those ahead on the alternate strategy to pit later in the race.
One by one the field came in and Matsushita, the de facto leader, once again led the pack in the final laps. Having pulled a fantastic gap over those behind Matsushita brilliantly took the chequered flag to claim his second Feature Race victory of the 2019 season; dedicating the win to Hubert.
Matsushita said of the Feature Race victory, “First of all I’ve had a really good car this weekend. Unfortunately, I made a mistake yesterday but still qualified fifth in the end. I had a good start and I think I was third so I didn’t push too much but Guanyu [Zhou] made a mistake in turn one so I was second after that. Then I was able to make the move for the lead on Callum [Ilott].
“I came under a bit of pressure but I just concerned myself with looking after my tyres. At the end of the day it was a good strategy.”
Sunday’s Sprint Race was equally exciting and although Matsushita had moved his way up to a brilliant third position, having started eighth, he was handed a five second penalty which left him in fifth. Demonstrating his pace, Delétraz was able to recover well from his starting position at the back of the field to brilliantly take the final point on offer as he ended the weekend in eighth.
The Carlin duo now look ahead to the next round of the championship which will take place at the end of the month in Sochi, Russia.