FIA Formula 2 provided yet another superb race in Bahrain as Guanyu Zhou convert pole position to victory for UNI-Virtuosi, but it wasn’t quite that simple.
The Alpine academy driver lost the lead off the line as Christian Lundgaard made the most of his tyre compound advantage early on as did Oscar Piastri and Felipe Drugovich who all started on the soft tyres compared to Zhou’s hard set.
A mid-race safety car for Gianluca Petecof’s Campos (which had emptied its fire extinguisher into the face of the Brazilian) saw Marcus Armstrong, Richard Verschoor and Matteo Nannini earn effectively a free pit stop of Armstrong led the field back to green.
Piastri quickly retook that lead before Verschoor passed them both and had clear track ahead. But Zhou managed his tyres well and he was able to push late on to overtake the Dutchman and claim victory in the first feature race of the season.
He was pressured in the final few corners by a charging Dan Ticktum of Carlin who bounced back from contact in his first two races but he wasn’t without more today. He passed Piastri into turn one but as the Australian tried to stay alongside, he ran out of road and the contact between the two caused the PREMA to spin and stall, ending Piastri’s race.
The final step on the podium was resolved on the last lap as Liam Lawson overtook Verschoor to claim his second podium of the weekend having won the opening round of the year yesterday. Verschoor was unfortunate to see his tyres fall off the cliff at the end of the race but he held on to fourth position in an all-round positive weekend for him and MP Motorsport.
Armstrong managed to come home in fifth having lost time at the restart and he also defended well from Jehan Daruvala in the closing laps before the Indian started to lose pace, just managing to beat Robert Shwartzman over the line who had to serve an early drive-through penalty for taking out Roy Nissany on the first lap.
A great drive from Shwartzman, who also gained two points for fastest lap, in the circumstances as he beat Théo Pourchaire to seventh with the Frenchman eighth.
A penalty for Drugovich meant he dropped to ninth and Lundgaard’s own penalty – both for a safety car infringement – meant Matteo Nannini was promoted into the points, as he was in yesterday’s second sprint race before Lundgaard’s penalty in that race was rescinded. No such rescinding this time though to give the Italian his first F2 points.
Nannini’s point means that only Campos are yet to have a driver score a point this season with just three races ran, proving the strength of the whole F2 field. Zhou leads the drivers’ championship by eleven points heading out of the opening round of the year with two months to wait until the next when the circus heads to Monaco for more thrilling action.
|1||Guanyu Zhou||UNI-Virtuosi||32 Laps|
|3||Liam Lawson||Hitech GP||+2.950|
|4||Richard Verschoor||MP Motorsport||+4.095|
|10||Matteo Nannini||HWA Racelab||+19.852|
|13||Juri Vips||Hitech GP||+27.385|
|18||Lirim Zendeli||MP Motorsport||+61.952|
|19||Oscar Piastri||PREMA||DNF (Damage)|
|20||Gianluca Petecof||Campos||DNF (Mechanical)|
|21||Alessio Deledda||HWA Racelab||DNF (Damage)|
|22||Roy Nissany||DAMS||DNF (Damage)|