Lewis Hamilton produced yet another new flawless lap to record his 99th pole position at…
MEDIA RELEASE/FIA Formula 2 – Photo: f1.com
Reigning Formula 3 champion Oscar Piastri became the second rookie winner in as many races this season, completing a superb last-lap overtake on UNI-Virtuosi’s Guanyu Zhou, to win a frenetic Sprint Race 2 in Sakhir. The Chinese driver also fell foul to a last gasp move from Christian Lundgaard, dropping to third on an all-Alpine Academy podium.
It initially looked as though Zhou was set to pull off his second win in Formula 2, after boldly starting on softs, before two late Safety Cars turned the race on its head and allowed a number of the field to switch to soft Pirellis themselves. Zhou was then left to struggle to the line on heavily degraded tyres, just about holding on to third.
Piastri and Lundgaard were amongst those to change rubber, taking advantage of a late problem for Jüri Vips, who dropped out of contention, having previously looked to be Zhou’s biggest threat. Meanwhile, Red Bull junior Jehan Daruvala just missed out on a second podium of Round 1, taking fourth.
The superb late battle took away from some incredible performances in behind as Richard Verschoor finished fifth, having started 22nd, and Théo Pourchaire sealed sixth, having started 19th.
Marino Sato and Matteo Nannini both started out of the top ten but finished in eight and ninth, behind David Beckmann.
AS IT HAPPENED
After his Qualifying disqualification, Vips said he just wanted to keep things clean in the second race of the day. Starting from reverse grid pole, the Hitech racer managed to do that at the start, darting into the distance with Lirim Zendeli in tow, as those behind them got tangled up.
Robert Shwartzman and Dan Ticktum were the unlucky pairing. The duo came to blows in their attempts to rise up the order and were both out of the race by the end of Turn 1.
All of the excitement brought out a Safety Car, meaning that Vips needed to nail a second getaway. The Hitech racer shrugged off the challenge and scrambled back off into the distance. Zendeli’s restart wasn’t quite as strong and it cost him P2, as Zhou launched down the side of him and into second.
The Virtuosi racer was on a mission, homing in on Vips and coolly dispatching of the Hitech racer in the same lap to steal first. Meanwhile, things went from bad to worse for Zendeli, as he was clipped by Lundgaard and suffered a puncture. The ART racer was handed a 10s-time penalty for the offence, which he served in the pits in the latter stages of the race.
Having lost the lead, Vips then found himself in a battle with his race-winning teammate Liam Lawson, who had climbed an incredible seven places to third. Keeping an eye on their battle was Felipe Drugovich, who’d put on a brilliant recovery himself, rising 12 places to fourth.
Rivalling the Brazilian for most positions gained were Marcus Armstrong and Pourchaire, the Kiwi climbing 13 places to P7 and the Frenchman up to ninth from 19th.
Lundgaard began to gain on Drugovich in fourth, which prompted the Virtuosi man to step up his chase of Lawson, sparking a three-way brawl that ended with Lawson facing the wrong way and out of the race. The Safety Car returned to clear up the mess, triggering a mass exodus of the track as a handful of drivers all dived into the pits to swap the hard Pirellis for a set of softs.
Zhou wasn’t amongst those to pit and still held the lead when the Safety Car headed back in, followed by Drugovich, Armstrong and Bent Viscaal, with the latter trio still on the hards. All four had Vips breathing down their necks from P5 on fresh soft.
All four went on the defensive at the restart and Viscaal very briefly snuck into second, but the Dutchman was too early on the breaks at Turn 1 and fell back down to P5. Vips dove into P2 at the exit and was followed through by Piastri, another who had swapped boots.
Things didn’t calm down, as a third Safety Car was required when Alessio Deledda stopped on track and retired. Nursing heavily degraded hards, Zhou’s chances of holding onto first seemed slim, yet he just about clung on at the restart, as Vips was too busy defending from Piastri.
The Australian was handed a straight shot of Zhou when Vips slowed and plummeted out of the top 10 – or so he thought. Lundgaard appeared and threw himself into the all-Alpine junior battle for P1.
The Alpine trio went three wide on the final lap and Piastri just about edged ahead, before Lundgaard daringly launched down the outside, though the move wouldn’t stick, as ART man over pushed and ran wide.
Lundgaard recovered and held onto second on track, although he didn’t appear on the podium. He had served his time penalty in the latter stages of the race, and with much happening in the pitlane and on the track, the FIA needed time to confirm whether the Dane had taken his time penalty in a proper manner. The confirmation came after the podium ceremony, and since the ART driver served it correctly, his P2 result was reinstated.
Piastri now leads the Drivers’ Championship on 21 points, with Daruvala one point behind in second. Lundgaard and Zhou are tied in third on 16 points, with Lawson in fifth. PREMA lead the Teams’ standings on 29 points, ahead of Carlin on 21 and ART on 20. Virtuosi are fourth with 16 and Hitech fifth with 15.
KEY QUOTE – OSCAR PIASTRI (PREMA RACING)
“The second race in Bahrain and it was a crazy one. We came out on top, so I want to give a massive thanks to PREMA. It was the right strategy call from the team to go onto softs.
“I am just riding the high at the minute, second race, first win. We struggled a bit at the beginning, but I couldn’t be happier with the result and we will go again tomorrow.”
FIA F2 Race One – LAWSON HOLDS OFF DARUVALA TO WIN ON HIS F2 DEBUT IN SAKHIR
Hitech Grand Prix’s Liam Lawson drove like a seasoned pro on his Formula 2 debut, brushing off a stern challenge from second year Jehan Daruvala to take the opening win of season in Sprint Race 1 at Sakhir. Charouz Racing System rookie David Beckmann hung onto third to complete a youthful podium.
Scampering ahead of Théo Pourchaire at the start, Lawson spent the majority of the race in a to-and-fro with his former Formula 3 rival, before seeing the ART Grand Prix driver retire. This handed the Kiwi a more experienced challenger, as Daruvala – up from fifth – lined up behind him. However, the Carlin driver had no answer to his Red Bull academy teammates’ defensive masterclass and was forced to settle for second.
Impressively leaping from 11th to fifth at the start, Robert Shwarztman had a podium in his sights when Pourchaire retired and handed him fourth, but the PREMA’s attack was stalled by his teammate, Oscar Piastri. The reigning F3 champion had jumped ahead of Christian Lundgaard and kept Shwartzman occupied in the closing laps, before eventually settling for fifth.
UNI-Virtuosi’s Guanyu Zhou – who will begin Sunday’s Feature Race on pole – got his weekend off to a solid start, rising to seventh, ahead of Dan Ticktum. MP Motorsport’s Lirim Zendeli and Lawson’s Hitech teammate, Jüri Vips, completed the top 10.
AS IT HAPPENED
Lawson nailed his first race start in F2, launching from third to first off the line and making the most of a sluggish getaway from Pourchaire. The reverse polesitter briefly dropped down to third at the first corner, but managed to claw his way back ahead of Beckmann and into P2.
Title-favourite Shwarztman endured a difficult return to the track on Friday, as mechanical troubles left him unable to set a laptime in the second run of Qualifying and had him starting back in 11th. Determined to make amends, the Russian gallantly flung his PREMA up to fifth inside of the opening lap.
A daring move from Ticktum failed to come off in the opening lap as the Carlin driver attempted a double overtake down the inside of Felipe Drugovich and Richard Verschoor, but clipped the back of the MP Motorsport and spun it backwards.
Ticktum somehow got away unscathed, but Drugovich was caught up in the collision and suffered damage. The Brazilian was forced into the pits for repairs and plummeted to last. Ticktum was later handed a 5s penalty for his troubles and fell to P8.
Two further retirements in the opening five laps decreased the field to 19, as Marcus Armstrong and Ralph Boschung both pulled over onto the gravel with mechanical issues.
Pourchaire was keeping up with Lawson at the front, remaining within 2s of the Hitech driver, but Beckmann was struggling to hold on to third behind him. He locked up and momentarily went skidding off track, flinging dirt into the pathway of those immediately behind him.
The Charouz managed to return to the track, but the mistake cost him precious grip and handed an opportunity to Daruvala behind him. The Carlin took a hit of DRS and passed the German around the outside of Turn 4.
The Red Bull junior was then handed another position as Pourchaire lost power and fell out of the points. The Frenchman attempted to keep his ART going, but eventually conceded his race was run and pulled over.
Daruvala’s experience was beginning to show. The Carlin racer’s tyres were in better shape than Lawson’s and he had eaten into the gap between the two of them. With two laps to go, Lawson was just about clinging on. Their battle continued into the final lap, but Daruvala just couldn’t find any way past and crossed the line in second.
There was little change behind them, though Piastri had managed to tussle ahead of Lundgaard for fifth place, directly behind his teammate Shwartzman. The Australian started to harry the back of the PREMA and chanced his arm with a brave move down the left, but was forced to back off as he ran out of space, allowing Shwartzman to hold onto fourth. The duo’s battle allowed Beckmann to retain the final podium spot.
THE KEY QUOTE – LIAM LAWSON (HITECH GRAND PRIX)
“That was pretty awesome. Starting third, I had a pretty good start and led from that moment onwards. I had massive pressure from Jehan (Daruvala) towards the end of the race and learned a lot. I’m excited to get into the night race later today.”
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