Red Bull-Honda protege Yuki Tsunoda took victory in the Formula 2 feature race at Spa-Francorchamps after Nikita Mazepin was awarded a time penalty.
Hitech GP driver Mazepin fended off Tsunoda in the closing stages to take the chequered flag, but was then given a five-second penalty during the cool-down lap for forcing his rival off track in his defence.
In the race that was preceded by a minute’s silence in memory of Anthoine Hubert, Tsunoda started on pole and rebuffed Mazepin at the start. Mazepin then slipped into the clutches of MP Motorsport’s Nobuharu Matsushita.
Tsunoda immediately opened up a sizeable gap, while Matsushita’s tyres dropped off almost immediately. He was passed by Mazepin, Prema’s Mick Schumacher and Charouz driver Louis Deletraz to name a few.
Matsushita then clipped team-mate Felipe Drugovich going into Blanchimont, crashing heavily and bringing out the Virtual Safety Car.
Mazepin was able to close up slightly on Tsunoda at the restart, and jumped ahead of his rival after pitting for medium tyres one lap beforehand.
Tsunoda suffered a slow pitstop, but Mazepin’s was not without trouble either. He got a lot of wheelspin on the exit, and opted to straight-line through the Trident pit box, forcing several mechanics to take evasive action. That was quickly placed under investigation for after the race.
Mazepin held track position, but Tsunoda opted to try and make the move on-track. Twice, Mazepin made Tsunoda take the outside line at Les Combes, and on both occasions, he had to take to the run-off.
At the end, Mazepin held off an irritated Tsunoda by half a second at the end, before the stewards switched their positions by handing Mazepin a penalty. Mazepin copped another investigation post-race when he clattered into the second-placed marker in parc ferme, and it narrowly avoided hitting the celebrating Tsunoda.
Schumacher had a relatively quiet run to third place, with Deletraz in fourth ahead of Shwartzman, who took crucial points for the championship in fifth.
Despite missing free practice due to an inconclusive COVID test, DAMS’ Dan Ticktum took his best feature race result yet with sixth, just holding off Guanyu Zhou.
Trident’s Roy Nissany stole eighth place and reversed-grid pole for Sunday’s sprint race with a bold pass on Luca Ghiotto towards the end.
Championship leader Callum Ilott had a difficult race, coming home in 10th, just ahead of debutant Juri Vips who had a strong drive from the back row of the grid.
In addition to the pre-race tribute, Hubert’s memory was marked one year on by applause from those in the pits and Formula 1 garages on lap 19 of the race.
Race results (25 laps)
|2||Nikita Mazepin||Hitech GP||+4.430|
|4||Louis Delétraz||Charouz Racing System||+10.381|
|5||Robert Shwartzman||Prema Racing||+13.595|
|9||Luca Ghiotto||Hitech GP||+24.222|
|10||Callum Ilott||Virtuosi Racing||+25.808|
|12||Pedro Piquet||Charouz Racing System||+29.776|
|13||Marcus Armstrong||ART Grand Prix||+36.414|
|14||Jack Aitken||Campos Racing||+36.613|
|17||Christian Lundgaard||ART Grand Prix||+46.051|
|20||Felipe Drugovich||MP Motorsport||+2m10.717|
|21||Nobuharu Matsushita||MP Motorsport|
|22||Guilherme Samaia||Campos Racing|
|Fastest lap: Shwartzman, 2m01.092s