F2 Baku: Vips wins feature race as Piastri slashes championship lead

Juri Vips took his second Formula 2 victory in a row in the Baku feature race, while Oscar Piastri finished second to close in on championship leader Guanyu Zhou.

Vips started from second place alongside Hitech teammate Liam Lawson, but a quicker launch saw the Estonian take the lead into the first corner. Lawson then dropped behind Piastri as well, and only held third place over Theo Pourchaire with an aggressive move that pushed Pourchaire onto the pit exit and almost into the wall.

Liam Lawson, Hitech (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)

Pourchaire’s challenge then unravelled further at Turn 3 as he was caught between Dan Ticktum on the inside and Marcus Armstrong on the outside. The three drivers made contact, which put Armstrong and Pourchaire out of the race and left Ticktum with a broken front wing and a 10 second penalty for causing the collision.

Pourchaire later confirmed after the race that he also suffered a broken wrist in the crash.

The safety car was brought out to clear the incident at Turn 3. At the restart on lap 3, Lawson immediately put the pressure on Piastri for second, and battled his way past the Prema by the third corner. However, Lawson then fell out of contention for the win as he was given a 10 second penalty for his first lap defence against Pourchaire.

When Lawson served his penalty at his pit stop, Vips then had to hold off a rapid Piastri for the lead. But Vips responded with a series of fastest laps after his stop to open up a gap on the Prema. He was then given some more breathing room as Piastri was given a 5 second penalty for an unsafe release from his own pit stop.

Piastri continued to put the pressure on Vips to try and nullify his penalty. He gained a second on the leader as Vips was held up lapping Alessio Deledda, who was given a drive-through penalty for ignoring blue flags. But despite Piastri closing to within eight tenths in the final laps, Vips was able to keep his car ahead to beat the Australian on the road as well as the timing screen.

Oscar Piastri, Prema (Dan Istitene, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA F2)

Piastri’s second place briefly came under threat from his own teammate Robert Shwartzman. Starting tenth, Shwartzman had made charging progress to get up to fifth before his stop on lap 8. The Russian then kept up his pace in the second stint to reach third, although he wasn’t quite able to get within the necessary five second window behind Piastri to inherit second.

Felipe Drugovich followed Shwartzman through the field to go from eleventh to fourth at the flag, ahead of fifth-placed Ralph Boschung. Lawson ended up sixth after his penalty ahead of Jehan Daruvala.

Ticktum took on medium tyres on the opening lap when he pitted to replace his front wing, and ran long on his stint to cover off the 10 second penalty he had to serve later.

Finally making his mandatory stop on lap 21, Ticktum emerged in eleventh but with a clear pace advantage on supersoft tyres. He finished the race eighth ahead of Christian Lundgaard and David Beckmann, and took the fastest lap as well.

Championship leader Zhou started the race eighth but struggled for pace throughout and eventually finished outside the points in P13. With Piastri scoring 18 points for second, the gap between them is now only five points. Shwartzman’s podium moves him into third in the standings, and Vips is now fourth after his two wins this weekend.

Formula 2 returns on 17th and 18th July in support of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

F2 Baku: Vips seizes victory in second sprint race

Red Bull junior Juri Vips took his first Formula 2 win in the second Baku sprint race, after overtaking Bent Viscaal and David Beckmann early on and surviving multiple safety car restarts.

Viscaal started from reverse grid pole ahead of Beckmann and Vips. While Viscaal got a slower start than the others, an aggressive chop to the inside of Turn 1 ensured he stayed ahead, although Beckmann was close enough to keep up the attack.

But although the leaders got away cleanly, there were several incidents in the midpack behind them. Championship leader Guanyu Zhou locked up with a stuck throttle pedal as he came into Turn 1, tagging Dan Ticktum into a spin and putting himself out the race. Just ahead of them, Theo Pourchaire ran into Ralph Boschung and lost his front wing.

Lirim Zendelli made it three cars out of the race in the opening corners and brought out the safety car, but not before Beckmann passed Viscaal for the lead at Turn 4 and Jehan Daruvala took fourth place from Marcus Armstrong.

Jehan Daruvala, Carlin (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)

At the restart on lap 3, Daruvala initially took third from Vips, but Vips recovered the position a few corners later, before passing Viscaal for second on lap 5. Another safety car was deployed on lap 6 when Roy Nissany hit Richard Verschoor at Turn 3 and put him into the wall. Vips again lost a position at the restart as Viscaal resumed second, but Vips repassed the Trident shortly after to continue pursuing Beckmann.

After losing out to Vips a second time, Viscaal then slid backwards as he was passed by both Daruvala and Armstrong. Viscaal tried to retake fourth from Armstrong on lap 8, but as they both locked up heading through Turn 4, Armstrong ended up in the wall and brought out a Virtual Safety Car.

When the race resumed on lap 9, Vips set the fastest lap and closed the gap to Beckmann. The Estonian then took the lead on lap 11 and immediately starting to pull away, as a DRS train began to form behind Beckmann.

But although Vips moved 3.5 seconds clear of Beckmann by the chequered flag, Beckmann himself was able to hold onto second place for his second podium of the season. Daruvala finished third, and Viscaal came home fourth.

Robert Shwartzman took fifth place, after making an impressive jump from tenth to sixth at the start and benefiting from Armstrong’s crash. Ticktum — taking advantage of the multiple safety cars — recovered from his lap 1 spin to finish sixth, while Liam Lawson and Oscar Piastri navigated the early carnage to round out the points after starting on the penultimate row of the grid.

L–R: David Beckmann, Juri Vips, Jehan Daruvala (Dan Mullan, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA F2)

F2 Baku: Shwartzman takes dominant win in first sprint race

Robert Shwartzman took his first win of 2021 with a dominant performance in the opening Baku sprint race, while championship leader Guanyu Zhou extended his lead with another podium.

Shwartzman started the race from reverse grid pole ahead of Jehan Daruvala and Zhou, and held first place off the line. Marcus Armstrong jumped Ralph Boschung for fourth, while Theo Pourchaire passed Dan Ticktum for sixth.

As Shwartzman lead the field away, there was big championship drama at the second corner as Felipe Drugovich ran into the back of Oscar Piastri. Piastri was then knocked into Liam Lawson on the outside, and both cars were put out of the race while Drugovich received a ten-second penalty.

Liam Lawson, Hitech (Francois Nel, Getty Images / FIA F2)

With two of his closest title rivals out of the race, Zhou then began putting pressure on second-placed Daruvala, who was struggling to keep pacing with the leading Shwartzman. As Shwartzman pulled three seconds clear of the field, Zhou took second from Daruvala on lap 9 with a DRS move into Turn 1.

But after clearing Daruvala, Zhou wasn’t able to catch up to Shwartzman either. Instead, he and Daruvala then came under attack from Ticktum, who had recovered from losing a place at the start to overhaul Pourchaire, Boschung and Armstrong for fourth by lap 8.

On lap 11 Ticktum got onto the podium with a Turn 1 move on Daruvala, and then moved up to second a lap later by passing Zhou. The Carlin driver looked to have the most pace of anyone on track and started chipping away at Shwartzman’s 4.5 second lead by setting the fastest lap.

But as Ticktum made gains, Shwartzman responded with fastest laps of his own and not only kept clear of Ticktum but eased the gap over 5 seconds by lap 19. Ticktum therefore had to settle for second place, while Zhou completed the podium for his fourth top three finish of the year.

Theo Pourchaire, ART (Dan Mullan, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA F2)

Pourchaire struggled for pace early on, losing positions to Ticktum and Juri Vips, but recovered in the closing stages. After repassing Vips at the halfway stage, Pourchaire then cleared Boschung and Armstrong in the final four laps to finish fifth behind Daruvala, and snatched the fastest lap on the last lap of the race.

Boschung finished sixth for his fourth consecutive points finish of the year ahead of Armstrong and Vips, and Bent Viscaal finished tenth to start the second sprint race from pole.

F2 Monaco: Pourchaire dominates feature race

ART’s Theo Pourchaire took his first Formula 2 victory with a commanding performance in the Monaco feature race, becoming the youngest winner in F2 history.

Pourchaire got a quick launch from pole position to cover off an attack from second-placed Robert Shwartzman into Sainte Devote. The pair then spent the opening laps of the race trading fastest laps, while the gap between them stayed level at around a second.

Robert Shwartzman, Prema (Bryn Lennon, Getty Images / FIA F2)

Behind them, the order remained stable with Oscar Piastri in third, leading Dan Ticktum, Juri Vips, Ralph Boschung, Roy Nissany, Christian Lundgaard, Felipe Drugovich and Guanyu Zhou. But on lap 9, Drugovich pulled the trigger on the pit window by stopping for soft tyres on the alternate strategy, coming out in 15th.

As the cars he’d been racing against made their own stops to cover him, Drugovich got his fresh tyres up to temperature and started setting successive fastest laps. On lap 21 Drugovich moved up a net sixth by passing Boschung after the latter’s stop, then found himself ahead of Nissany and Lundgaard once they exited the pits.

On lap 29 Shwartzman stopped to attempt the undercut on Pourchaire. But a slow left rear tyre change dropped him down the order, leaving him behind Zhou who had yet to stop, and Piastri, Ticktum and Drugovich.

Pourchaire stopped a lap later and came out comfortably ahead of Piastri, with Zhou inheriting the lead as he had yet to pit. But Zhou was prevented from stopping on lap 31 when Marcus Armstrong hit the wall at La Rascasse while fighting Vips, and the virtual safety car was deployed.

The VSC was only out for one lap, but was redeployed immediately after when Lirim Zendelli locked up and hit the wall at La Rascasse at the restart. A third VSC was then brought out a lap later again, when Ticktum tried to pass Piastri around the outside of La Rascasse on the restart but ended up making it three cars in the wall in as many laps.

Guanyu Zhou, UNI-Virtuosi (Lars Baron, Getty Images / FIA F2)

When the final VSC was withdrawn, Zhou led with a 20-second gap over Pourchaire. But with the Virtuosi driver on old tyres, Pourchaire rapidly halved that lead by the time Zhou stopped on lap 37.

Zhou emerged in third ahead of Drugovich, but Drugovich passed him on the outlap with the advantage of his warmer tyres. Zhou then lost another position to Shwartzman and came under pressure from Boschung, although he was able to hold off the Campos before the chequered flag.

At the front, Pourchaire crossed the line with nearly five seconds in hand over Piastri, while Drugovich followed them home in third for his second podium of the weekend. Shwartzman took fourth ahead of Zhou and Boschung, and Liam Lawson, Vips, Nissany and Richard Verschoor rounded out the points.

Leaving Monaco, Zhou stays in the lead of the championship with 68 points, while Piastri and Pourchaire move up to second and third. UNI-Virtuosi remains at the top of the teams’ standings, although Prema have displaced Carlin from second with 15 points the difference between the top two. Find the full F2 standings here.

F2 Monaco: Lawson wins damp sprint race

Hitech’s Liam Lawson took his second win of the season in the second Monaco sprint race, overcoming the challenge of Oscar Piastri and Dan Ticktum in tricky conditions.

Lawson inherited pole position for the reverse grid race, after original polesitter Marcus Armstrong stopped on his way to the grid and was relegated to a pit lane start. But starting on a damp track, Lawson didn’t get enough traction off the line and Piastri beat him into Sainte Devote to take the lead. Behind them, Ticktum jumped from fourth to third with a move on Theo Pourchaire.

But despite having the better launch, Piastri wasn’t able to drop Lawson over the opening laps. After staying consistently within a few tenths of the Prema, Lawson made a move to the inside of the Nouvelle chicane on lap 5. Piastri held him off there, but Lawson got him for the lead at the inside of La Rascasse later in the lap.

Oscar Piastri, Prema (Clive Rose, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA F2)

Once in the lead, Lawson then began checking out while Piastri struggled to keep his wet tyres alive on the drying track and came under pressure from Ticktum. As Lawson pulled out a three-second gap over the field, Ticktum took second from Piastri with an inside lunge out of the tunnel on lap 15.

Ticktum, much more comfortable in the conditions than Piastri, started reeling in Lawson immediately. He halved Lawson’s gap by lap 18, then closed to within a second of the Hitech a lap later.

But Lawson regrouped and set the fastest lap on lap 20, while Ticktum had a wide moment through Mirabeau and lost temperature in his tyres. As he tried to recover the grip, the gap to Lawson slipped to over four seconds.

Ticktum’s mistake looked to be nullified on lap 24, when David Beckmann and Bent Viscaal brought out the safety car by coming together at Sainte Devote. But due to the slower pace of the damp track, the race was run to time instead of the planned 30 laps, and Ticktum was unable to bring his tyres back up to temperature in time to catch Lawson before the flag.

Dan Ticktum, Carlin (Bryn Lennon, Getty Images / FIA F2)

Lawson eventually came home with more than three seconds in hand over Ticktum for his second win of the year. Piastri came under pressure on the final two laps from Juri Vips, but he was able to hold the Estonian behind with clever defending through Mirabeau and finished on the podium in third.

Vips finished fourth ahead of Pourchaire. Ralph Boschung, Richard Verschoor and Lirim Zendelli rounded out the final points positions. Robert Shwartzman took the fastest lap, but was outside the top ten and so did not receive the accompanying points.

Championship leader Guanyu Zhou failed to score after an unsuccessful gamble to stop for slick tyres left him well outside the points. His gap over Lawson in the standings is now 11 points.

UPDATE: Lawson was disqualified from the results after the race for a breach of the technical regulations, with Ticktum inheriting the win. Read the full details here.

F2 Monaco: Zhou leads Virtuosi 1–2 in first sprint race

Guanyu Zhou took his second consecutive win of the Formula 2 season, leading UNI-Virtuosi teammate Felipe Drugovich across the line from pole.

Zhou and Drugovich started alongside each other on the front row. But while Zhou got a clean getaway, Drugovich was slow off the line and lost second to the faster Christian Lundgaard.

Behind them, Theo Pourchaire jumped the Premas of Oscar Piastri and Robert Shwartzman for eighth. Shwartzman’s start then got even worse as lost his front wing to the wall at Beau Rivage, and retired a few laps later from damage.

Theo Pourchaire, ART (Bryn Lennon, Getty Images / FIA F2)

At the front, Lundgaard prevented Zhou from checking out in the lead. Keeping within a second of the Chinese driver after the start, Lundgaard closed the gap to four tenths on lap 4. But Zhou regrouped and pushed on, opening up a buffer of a second just two laps later.

Zhou’s lead then grew to over three seconds when Lundgaard’s engine started smoking on lap 13. After trying to continue for two laps, Lundgaard eventually pulled off the road at the Nouvelle Chicane and retired, promoting Drugovich to second and Roy Nissany to third.

 

Drugovich, who had dropped back from Lundgaard to avoid the ART’s oil spill, assumed pursuit of Zhou with five seconds between himself and his teammate. The Brazilian made good progress to close that gap by more than two seconds by lap 19, but Zhou responded shortly after to keep out of reach.

Zhou’s gap was briefly eliminated in the closing laps after Gianluca Petecof hit the wall out of Piscine and brought out the safety car. But at the restart on lap 28, Drugovich struggled to get his tyres up to temperature in time and Zhou managed to restore his three second lead by the time he crossed the line.

Nissany finished third behind Zhou and Drugovich for his first F2 podium, while Ralph Boschung took his best F2 result so far in fourth for Campos. Juri Vips finished fifth and took the fastest lap, and Dan Ticktum, Pourchaire and Piastri rounded out the points. Marcus Armstrong finished tenth to take reverse grid pole for tomorrow’s second sprint race.

Juri Vips, Hitech (Dan Istitene, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA F2)