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Shwartzman wins as title rivals get into trouble in Bahrain sprint race

by Craig Woollard

Photo: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Robert Shwartzman won the Formula 2 sprint race at Bahrain to stay in title contention as rivals Callum Ilott and Yuki Tsunoda had nightmare races.

Prema driver Shwartzman started on reversed grid pole, but Carlin’s Tsunoda made the best launch from third and challenged him into Turn 1.

Shwartzman held on, as Tsunoda had light contact with ART Grand Prix’s Marcus Armstrong. This gave Tsunoda a puncture, and he dropped down the order before pitting.

A safety car was brought out early in the race as HWA Racelab debutant Theo Pourchaire came to a stop after his in-car fire extinguisher went off at Turn 1.

Several drivers used this opportunity to pit, including Hitech GP’s Luca Ghiotto, Campos’s Jack Aitken and Charouz Racing System’s Louis Deletraz.

On the restart, Virtuosi Racing’s Ilott was following points leader Mick Schumacher for fourth. The Prema driver locked up going into the tricky Turn 9-10 complex, Ilott lost control, and clattered into Tsunoda’s team-mate Daruvala who was just ahead. Daruvala’s race was ended by the clash, while Ilott was handed a drive-through penalty.

Schumacher evaded contact but lost out to Charouz’s Pedro Piquet as he tried to regain momentum.

This brought out the virtual safety car for a period. Once green flag conditions resumed, Shwartzman was able to command the race at the front from Hitech’s Nikita Mazepin.

Mazepin started fourth but had a poor getaway, having briefly stalled on the formation lap. He dropped to the lower reaches of the points but was able to rise all the way back up the order after lengthy battle with Schumacher.

Piquet held third for a long time but was denied a first podium when he came to a halt on the penultimate lap with a technical issue. This promoted Deletraz to third – the highest of the alternative strategy runners.

Armstrong eventually took fourth to round out a fairly strong weekend. Guanyu Zhou (Virtuosi) made up some nine spots to take fifth, and Christian Lundgaard (ART) was similarly effective from 19th on the grid.

Schumacher eventually took seventh to extend his points lead going into the final round, ahead of feature race winner Felipe Drugovich.

HWA’s Artem Markelov rounded out the top 10 having started last, benefitting from a last-lap puncture for Aitken. Tsunoda and Ilott recovered to 15th and 16th.

Race results (23 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Robert Shwartzman Prema 43m15.992s
2 Nikita Mazepin Hitech GP +5.283s
3 Louis Deletraz Charouz Racing System +6.472s
4 Marcus Armstrong ART Grand Prix +10.655s
5 Guanyu Zhou Virtuosi Racing +15.133s
6 Christian Lundgaard ART Grand Prix +18.564s
7 Mick Schumacher Prema +20.741s
8 Felipe Drugovich MP Motorsport +23.510s
9 Roy Nissany Trident +25.352s
10 Artem Markelov HWA Racelab +31.150s
11 Marino Sato Trident +31.838s
12 Dan Ticktum DAMS +39.824s
13 Giuliano Alesi MP Motorsport +43.904s
14 Sean Gelael DAMS +44.427s
15 Yuki Tsunoda Carlin +49.148s
16 Callum Ilott Virtuosi Racing +1m03.463s
17 Jack Aitken Campos Racing +1 lap
18 Guilherme Samaia Campos Racing +1 lap
19 Pedro Piquet Charouz Racing System +2 laps
Ret Luca Ghiotto Hitech GP
Ret Jehan Daruvala Carlin
Ret Theo Pourchaire HWA Racelab
Fastest lap: Deletraz, 1m45.114s

Championship standings
1 Schumacher 205   2 Ilott 191   3 Mazepin 162   4 Shwartzman 159   5 Tsunoda 157   6 Lundgaard 149   7 Deletraz 134   8 Zhou 125.5   9 Drugovich 105  10 Ghiotto 104