"Duel in the Desert"
A round up of the penultimate round of the Formula 2 2020 Season.
It has been nine weeks since Formula 2 went racing last in Russia but when it returned, Formula 2 did not disappoint. From a relatively clean yet exciting Feature Race to a messy and exhilarating Sprint Race, there was something for all of the Formula 2 fans out there this weekend. Let's take a look at what happened.
Here's everything you need to know about the explosive tenth round of the 2020 Formula 2 Championship.
Saturday - Race I - Triumph for Drugovich and Daravula
Photo Credit: Formula 2 Media Centre
After a couple of Sprint Race victories earlier in the season, Felipe Drugovich finally won a Formula 2 Feature Race. After qualifying in second place on the grid, the Brazilian was able to make his way past Championship contender Callum Illot and take the lead of the race. Further back, Mick Schumacher went from tenth on the grid up to fourth in only a matter of corners, proving what an awesome driver he is and that regardless of qualifying, he should never be counted out of a race.
On lap nine of the race, Schumacher and Illot did battle with one another with the former coming out on top but after the mandatory pit stops, he was behind Illot once again with Illot in second and Schumacher down in sixth. Illot retook the lead briefly but smelling a win, Drugovich retook the race lead going into turn one on lap twenty.
Schumacher made a late charge but was stumped when he came up behind the Carlin of Jehan Daruvala who fended off the Championship leader all the way to the chequered flag. This gave the Indian driver his first podium in Formula 2 - a great achievement. Yuki Tsunoda should also be commended here for his outstanding performance as he came all the way from the back of the grid to finish the race in sixth place!
The top ten looked like this: Drugovich, Illot, Daruvala, Schumacher, Mazepin, Tsunoda, Armstrong, Shawartzman, Ticktum and Aitken.
The junior formula took to the track again for a two day testing session.
Race II - Sunday - A Costly Mistake for Illot.
Photo Credit: Formula 2 Media Centre
Robert Shwartzman was on Pole Position for the twenty three lap Sprint Race and as soon as the lights went out, there was nothing that anybody could do to take the lead away from him. He built up a substantial gap early on, only for it to be reduced to nothing when the safety car came out (more on that below). But when the racing got underway again, he stormed back into a three second lead which he pretty much maintained until the end of the racing, claiming his first race win since Spa.
As mentioned, the safety car came out on lap eight. This was caused by a very quick chain of events. First Mick Schumacher locked up coming into turn ten which caused Championship rival Callum Illot to slam on the breaks behind and take avoiding action so as not to crash into him. Whilst he did manage to avoid Schumacher, Illot did slam into the back of Daruvala (poor sod) and sent him spinning out of the race. Illot received a drive through penalty as a result and finished the race outside the points in seventeenth.
The other main talking point from this race is the impressive performance by both Cherouz Racing drivers of Pedro Piquet and Louis Deletraz. Piquet capitalized on the messiness of the race early on and looked set to take a podium place when disaster struck on the penultimate lap and he was forced to retire from the race. Behind him, Deletraz had been on the alternate strategy and making it work beautifully for him. He then took the final place on the podium instead of Piquet - a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one.
Finally, whilst he still goes into the final round of the Championship in Sakhir with a fourteen point lead, it was a race to forget for Mick Schumacher as he had to settle for seventh place in the end. It wasn't a great race with for Drugovich in eighth or for Tsunoda who got a puncture early on and then had to make do with trundling down round the back of the grid and finishing the race in fourteenth place.
The Renault Sport Academy Trio went for a spin in the desert.
The Driver's Standings look like this going into the Season Finale:
1. Mick Schumacher - 205 Points.
2. Callum Illot - 191 Points.
3. Nikita Mazepin - 162 Points.
4. Robert Shwartzman - 159 Points.
5. Yuki Tsunoda - 157 Points.
Shwartzman and Fuoco will be getting to take part in the test too.
The Constructor's Championship looks like this:
1. PREMA - 364 Points.
2. UNI-Virtuosi - 316.5 Points.
3. Hitech - 266 Points.
4. Carlin - 208 Points.
5. ART - 201 Points.
The pair will get back into a Formula 1 car at the end of the season.
There were two very different race this weekend for Formula 2. The Feature Race had some good close wheel to wheel racing without any retirements at all whereas Sunday's Sprint Race was littered with carnage and a possible Championship defining moment for Callum Illot. But for now, all we know is that it will go down to the wire next weekend on a track that we've never been to before and that many think will bring out some crazy racing - something that is not unusual on Formula 2. The Championship is now to only a handful of drivers - who do you think will win?
Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below.