On an poignant day for the FIA Formula 2 Championship, Nikita Mazepin produced a stunning defensive drive to keep Yuki Tsunoda at arms length, but the Russian was awarded a penalty on the cool down lap for forcing the Carlin off the track on the penultimate lap, handing the win to the Japanese driver.
The entire paddock, including those involved in Formula One, observed an impeccable minutes silence for the late Anthoine Hubert, who lost his life at this race a year ago, before lights out and they put on a fantastic show in his memory.
Mazepin defended so resolutely to cross the line in first, but his driving was deemed overly forceful and the five-second penalty dropped the Hitech GP car to second. He is also under two investigations post-race; one for an unsafe release during his pit stop and the other being after he hit the number two parc ferme board and nearly hitting Tsunoda in the process as he went over to his Carlin team.
The twenty-five points Tsunoda picked up has closed him to within eleven points of championship leader Callum Ilott making it a three-way title fight going into the second half of the season.
Mazepin was far enough ahead of the rest to take second place with Mick Schumacher some six seconds back. The PREMA was fairly anonymous for much of the race as he did all he could and brought home solid points for the team, as did Robert Shwartzman who finished fifth and closed to within seven points of Ilott in the championship.
Between the two Italian cars was Louis Delétraz who was very consistent on pace with the PREMA’s and will be very satisfied with his fourth placed finish.
Outside the top five though, there was all sorts of battling which eventually saw Dan Ticktum climb to sixth by the chequered flag, a gain of eight places which he will be delighted with after missing practice on Friday.
Guanyu Zhou had looked like the main threat on the alternate strategy but a slow pit stop dropped him into traffic, he was able to fight his way back to seventh ahead of the much improved Roy Nissany who took reverse grid pole in eighth.
Luca Ghiotto was the cause of much of the battling as he tried to hold on to his points with the oldest tyres of anyone. He did collect two for finishing ninth ahead of Ilott who struggled all race and was fortunate to take tenth.
Juri Vips was very impressive in taking eleventh from the back of the grid on his Formula 2 debut.
MP Motorsport won both races in Spain two weeks ago but their race was over on lap four when Felipe Drugovich and Nobuharu Matsushita collided at Blanchimont, sending the latter into the tyre barriers. Drugovich was able to continue but ended the race a lap down.
|1||Yuki Tsunoda||Carlin||25 Laps|
|2||Nikita Mazepin*||Hitech GP||+4.430|
|9||Luca Ghiotto||Hitech GP||+24.222|
|16||Artem Markelov||HWA Racelab||+44.258|
|18||Guiliano Alesi||HWA Racelab||+47.045|
|20||Felipe Drugovich||MP Motorsport||+1 Lap|
|21||Guilherme Samaia||Campos||DNF (Mechanical)|
|22||Nobuharu Matsushita||MP Motorsport||DNF (Crash)|