After the thrill of Formula One qualifying, there was no time to relax as FIA Formula 2 put on a stunning spectacle under the Sakhir lights which saw Oscar Piastri leave it until the last moment to earn victory.
A late safety car for contact between Felipe Drugovich and Liam Lawson, which saw the latter go no further, saw many drivers take to pit lane for a new set of soft tyres. Piastri was one of them and it looked like his charge would be curtailed by Juri Vips who led the stoppers after the restart.
But the Estonian suffered car problems causing him to slow out of corners which opened the door for Piastri to chase down race leader Guanyu Zhou – who took his soft tyres the entire twenty-three lap distance.
Into turn one on the final lap, Piastri finally got ahead of Zhou and held off a lunging Christian Lundgaard at the same time to take his first Formula 2 win in just his second race.
Zhou crossed the line third but Lundgaard had a ten second time penalty which cost him not only a podium, but points in total as he dropped to ninth after the penalty was applied.
That meant Jehan Daruvala was promoted to the podium in third after he too pitted under the safety car and made some good moves under the radar as the attentions of everyone was on the battle at the front.
Other impressive performances came from Richard Verschoor who took fourth from stone dead last on the grid with Théo Pourchaire also gaining lots of places in fifth.
David Beckmann came home sixth ahead of two surprise points scorers in Marino Sato of Trident and Matteo Nannini of HWA Racelab, both benefitting from the chaos in front of them and the well-timed safety car.
Easily forgettable with so much going on was the turn one incident that saw title favourites Robert Shwartzman and Dan Ticktum out on the opening lap of the race. Ticktum went for a wide cutback going into turn two but Shwartzman’s PREMA was up the inside of Lundgaard and the Carlin was spun around, with Shwartzman having too much damage to continue.
The opening races of the season leaves Daruvala as the championship leader with 22 points thanks to his two podiums but Piastri is just one point further back thanks to his victory. Just DAMS and Campos haven’t scored points yet with only two races completed.
|1||Oscar Piastri||PREMA||23 Laps|
|4||Richard Verschoor||MP Motorsport||+2.966|
|8||Matteo Nannini||HWA Racelab||+9.733|
|16||Juri Vips||Hitech GP||+36.980|
|18||Alessio Deledda||HWA Racelab||DNF (Mechanical)|
|19||Liam Lawson||Hitech GP||DNF (Damage)|
|20||Lirim Zendeli||MP Motorsport||DNF (Damage)|
|21||Robert Shwartzman||PREMA||DNF (Damage)|
|22||Dan Ticktum||Carlin||DNF (Damage)|