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Zhou wins, Piastri spins and car issue ends Armstrong race under lights

by Alejandro Alonso Lopez

Photo: Formula Motorsport Limited

Guanyu Zhou took a comfortable win in Formula 2’s Abu Dhabi night race, after Marcus Armstrong retired from the lead due to a mechanical issue.

Virtuosi Racing driver Zhou claimed his fourth win of the season ahead of Prema’s Robert Shwartzman and Campos Racing’s Ralph Boschung.

The race start was a hectic one, with lots of drivers going side-by-side out of the reprofiled turn five. A very aggressive and newly crowned Oscar Piastri went deep in the brakes into the corner, forcing Hitech GP’s Liam Lawson to go off.

Piastri was handed a five-second time penalty, but it was without effect when another incident happened later in the race.

On lap four, the safety car had to be deployed to recover Alessio Deledda, who at the back of the field had been spun around by a diving Olli Caldwell at turn nine. The race resumed at the end of lap six with DAMS’ Armstrong leading from Zhou, who had overtaken front-row starter Boschung on lap three.

Green flag conditions didn’t last long as DAMS’ Roy Nissany went very deep into turn nine in an attempt to regain the places lost at the chicane that splits the back straight, and ended up colliding with Piastri who then hit Hitech’s Juri Vips. Both Piastri and Vips retired as a consequence, and the incident was investigated post-race.

The safety car came in at the end of lap 10, and Armstrong began the next lap by pulling to one side due to a mechanical issue. This left Zhou as the new race leader just before the VSC was deployed as Armstrong’s car was recovered.

Shwartzman passed Boschung for second place as racing resumed on lap 12, but Zhou had already escaped and was on course for victory. With his win, Zhou is now 17 points behind Shwartzman in the fight to be title runner-up.

On lap 16 of 23, Zhou’s team-mate Felipe Drugovich pulled a brilliant move on race one winner Jehan Daruvala around the outside of turn nine. Drugovich had stronger pace in the closing stages, tracking down Daruvala’s Carlin team-mate Dan Ticktum in the last two laps but not being able to pass as the Briton went elbows out to held on to fourth.

Race results (23 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Guanyu Zhou Virtuosi 43m27.096s
2 Robert Shwartzman Prema +3.413s
3 Ralph Boschung Campos Racing +9.772s
4 Dan Ticktum Carlin +14.296s
5 Felipe Drugovich Virtuosi +14.501s
6 Liam Lawson Hitech GP +17.088s
7 Jehan Daruvala Carlin +19.839s
8 Jack Doohan MP Motorsport +21.086s
9 Theo Pourchaire ART Grand Prix +21.942s
10 Bent Viscaal Trident +22.722s
11 Richard Verschoor Charouz Racing System +25.881s
12 Guilherme Samaia Charouz Racing System +30.899s
13 Jake Hughes HWA Racelab +31.463s
14 Clement Novalak MP Motorsport +31.867s
15 Olli Caldwell Campos Racing +32.236s
16 Marino Sato Trident +37.022s
17 Roy Nissany DAMS +1m06.754s
18 Christian Lundgaard ART Grand Prix +1 lap
Ret Marcus Armstrong DAMS
Ret Juri Vips Hitech GP
Ret Oscar Piastri Prema
Ret Alessio Deledda HWA Racelab
Fastest lap: Nissany, 1m37.445s

Championship standings
1 Piastri 227.5   2 Shwartzman 182   3 Zhou 165   Ticktum 151.5   5 Pourchaire 126   6 Vips 116   Daruvala 113   8 Lawson 103   9 Drugovich 90   10 Boschung 57.5