Robert Shwartzman reignited his FIA Formula 2 championship challenge by taking a commanding victory around the streets of Baku in the first sprint race of the weekend.
The Russian started the race on pole by virtue of qualifying down in tenth yesterday and he perfected the start to be well clear of the chasing pack when the crucial DRS was enabled, two laps after a safety car restart.
With the rest of the grid mere specs in his mirrors, Shwartzman could relax and he calmly brought his PREMA home for his first win of the season.
The only safety car of the race came as expected on lap one as four drivers were eliminated on the opening tour. Most notably Liam Lawson who was squeezed into the wall after Oscar Piastri was given a helping hand by Felipe Drugovich into turn two. Piastri also retired as did both HWA Racelab cars with Jack Aitken spinning and stalling at turn one while Alessio Deledda pulled off at turn two.
Of those who did make it to the end, Dan Ticktum was perhaps the most impressive, making decisive overtakes on his way to second for Carlin while showing very good race pace.
Guanyu Zhou made the most of Lawson and Piastri’s issues coming home third for UNI-Virtuosi and extending his championship lead in the process to 25 points over Théo Pourchaire.
The Frenchman had a solid day in his ART making a late race charge to fifth behind Ticktum’s Carlin teammate Jehan Daruvala who didn’t have the pace of those around him but held on well for a good points haul.
Ralph Boschung scored a fourth top six finish in succession for Campos as he continues to carry the team’s points total on street circuits after a fantastic Monaco weekend.
Marcus Armstrong held on to seventh by just under a tenth of a second as Juri Vips tried to make up the place on the run to the line. Vips had to take to the run off after the flag as Boschung backed off ahead of him.
While neither drive scored points, both David Beckmann and Bent Viscaal will be happy with ninth and tenth as they occupy the front row for the second sprint race later today with Viscaal on pole.
|1||Robert Shwartzman||PREMA||21 Laps|
|8||Juri Vips||Hitech GP||+14.5|
|12||Richard Verschoor||MP Motorsport||+21.0|
|13||Lirim Zendeli||MP Motorsport||+21.8|
|19||Oscar Piastri||PREMA||DNF (Damage)|
|20||Liam Lawson||Hitech GP||DNF (Contact)|
|21||Jack Aitken||HWA Racelab||DNF (Spin)|
|22||Alessio Deledda||HWA Racelab||DNF (Spin)|