Callum Ilott won the season-opening FIA Formula 2 race at the Red Bull Ring after mechanical woes denied Virtuosi team-mate Guanyu Zhou a likely victory.
Ilott won by a comfortable 8.8s margin, with fellow Ferrari academy drivers Marcus Armstrong and Robert Shwarzman finishing second and third after profiting from Zhou’s issue and a late mistake from Mick Schumacher.
After starting from the second pole of his F2 career, Zhou briefly had to concede the lead to Ilott – who made a great start from third on the grid – but retook the place before the end of the opening lap.
Zhou had to pass Ilott again – as well as Schumacher – after losing out to the pair following his pitstop, but his car slowed from the lead shortly afterwards when looking on course for his first F2 win, and eventually finished the race in 17th place.
Prema’s Schumacher, the only driver able to mix it with the two Virtuosi cars early on, lost second place after a trip through the gravel following a safety car period to recover the stricken car of Artem Markelov, and finished down in 11th.
As Ilott cruised to victory, 2019 FIA F3 title rivals Armstrong and Shwarzman had a great scrap for second in the closing stages, with ART’s Armstrong managing to fend off reigning F3 champion Shwarzman in the Prema.
Renault F1 junior Christian Lundgaard – another to graduate from FIA F3 – finished fourth in the second ART, ahead of Williams development driver Dan Ticktum for DAMS.
Guiliano Alesi – who briefly led after being one of the last drivers to make his mandatory pitstop – finished in sixth in BWT Racelab’s first F2 race ahead of Louis Deletraz in the Charouz.
Felipe Drugovich finished eighth, narrowly ahead of MP Motorsport team-mate Nobuharu Matsushita, to secure reverse-grid pole for Sunday’s sprint race, with Roy Nissany rounding out the top-ten for Trident in his first race since 2018.
Carlin had a miserable day after team-mates Jehan Daruvala and Yuki Tsunoda collided on the first lap, the latter handed a 5s time penalty after being deemed at fault for the collision.
It was also a difficult race for F2 debutants Hitech, with Luca Ghiotto’s car stopping on the formation lap and Nikita Mazepin losing a lot of time after an issue during his pitstop.
Race result – 40 laps
|6||Giuliano Alesi||HWA Racelab||+12.828s|
|8||Felipe Drugovich||MP Motorsport||+17.033s|
|9||Nobuharu Matsushita||MP Motorsport||+17.435s|
|14||Nikita Mazepin||Hitech GP||+25.885s|
|17||Guanyu Zhou||Virtuosi||+1 lap|
|18||Yuki Tsunoda||Carlin||+1 lap|
|DNF||Artem Markelov||HWA Racelab|
|DNS||Luca Ghiotto||Hitech GP|
Feature image credit: fiaformula2.com