Formula 2

Formula 2: Tsunoda wins Spa feature race after Mazepin penalty

Yuki Tsunoda won the Formula 2 feature race at Spa Francorchamps, but only after Nikita Mazepin was handed a five-second time penalty after the chequered flag following a late clash between the pair.

Carlin’s Tsunoda led the early stages of the race from pole position after fending off a challenge from fellow front-row starter Mazepin at the start into La Source.  Mick Schumacher gained three places off the line to run fourth, while Prema team-mate Shwartzman locked up into the first corner, dropping from fourth to sixth.

Mazepin lost second into Eau Rouge to Nobaharu Matsushita on the first lap after the cars went side-by side. But Mazepin regained the spot on the third lap as Matsushita started to suffer on his soft tyres.  Matsushita lost three more spots within the space of a lap to Mick Schumacher, Louis Deletraz and Robert Shwartzman. 

But after coming under pressure from Felipe Drugovich, Matsushita crashed heavily into the barriers at Blanchimont after appearing to move across into his MP Motorsport team-mate. Matsushita emerged unscathed as the virtual safety car was deployed, with Drugovich forced to pit for a new front wing.

Racing resumed shortly afterwards, with Tsunoda pitting from the lead with 15 laps to go. But a slow pitstop resulted in the Red Bull and Honda protege rejoining a couple of seconds behind Mazepin, who had pitted the lap before.

Guanyu Zhou, who had made up places from seventh on the grid on hard tyres, led the race until pitting for soft tyres. But, after rejoining in sixth, the Virtuosi driver locked-up at Les Combes under pressure from Hitech’s Luca Ghiotto, running off track and dropping to tenth behind team-mate Callum Ilott.

Mazepin was promoted to the lead following Zhou’s stop, albeit facing a post-race investigation for an unsafe release from his earlier pitstop, with Tsunoda hunting down in second. Tsunoda tried a move around the outside for the lead at the end of the Kemmel Straight in the closing stages, but was unable to get by.

On the penultimate lap, Tsunoda tried the same move, but appeared to be forced off the road by Mazepin into Les Combes.

Mazepin held on to first place at the finish from an angry Tsunoda, who felt the move had been unfair from Mazepin. But before the cars returned to parc ferme, Mazepin was awarded a 5s penalty for the incident, relegating him to second, with Tsunoda awarded the win.

A furious Mazepin drove into the second position board on returning to parc ferme, and now faces a further post-race investigation from the stewards for his actions.

Tsunoda dedicated his win to the late Anthoine Hubert, who lost his life at Spa one year earlier in a crash in F2, with all drivers sharing an emotional one minute’s silence in his memory before the start.

Mick Schumacher finished in third for Prema, ahead of Louis Deletraz in the Charouz and Shwartzman. Dan Ticktum had a strong run from 14th on the grid to finish sixth for DAMS, having missed Friday’s free practice session due an inconclusive COVID-19 test.

Zhou recovered to seventh by the finish, while a late overtake by Roy Nissany saw the Charouz driver pip Ghiotto to eight place and reversed-grid pole for Sunday’s sprint race.

Championship leader Ilott had a difficult race from 12th on grid, scoring a solitary point for tenth place.

Feature image credit: @fia_f2 official twitter

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