Christian Lundgaard became the fourth new winner in Formula 2, and the third rookie to do so this season, taking a dominant Sprint Race victory from third.
The Danish racer propelled himself ahead of his teammate, Marcus Armstrong, off the line and then claimed the scalp of reverse polesitter Dan Ticktum a lap later. From there, he never looked like handing back the lead.
Ticktum and Armstrong held on to P2 and P3 for their second podiums of the season, ahead UNI-Virtuosi’s Guanyu Zhou and Callum Ilott.
After such a successful Saturday, Feature Race front two Robert Shwarztman and Yuki Tsunoda both suffered from retirements in the Sprint Race, as did Mick Schumacher, whose frustrating start to the season continued.
Nikita Mazepin enjoyed his best race of the season so far, climbing from fourteenth to eighth to earn his first points finish of 2020.
AS IT HAPPENED
Having seen the Feature Race delayed by more than an hour on Saturday due to the wet conditions, Lundgaard was in a hurry to get on with things on Sunday in the dry. The Dane sprung off the line from third, getting the better of his teammate, Armstrong.
Reverse polesitter Ticktum got away smoothly but didn’t have the pace to build up any form of gap and was quickly under pressure from the ART Grand Prix driver. Lundgaard set the fastest lap on his first tour and quickly closed in on the DAMS’ driver, before making a late, committed lunge for first to eek ahead through the smallest of gaps at the first turn.
Gaining the advantage of DRS, Ticktum attempted to claw the position back at the second and third corners, but ran out of room and was forced to back off.
By the time Lundgaard took the lead, the field had lost its front two drivers from the Feature Race. Shwartzman spun in the middle of the pack on the first lap, seemingly losing grip down the straight. Those behind him done well to avoid the PREMA, whose race was over. A lap later and Tsunoda was gone too. The Carlin driver lost power and dropped to the back of the grid, before being forced to retire.
Lundgaard extended his lead at the front to three seconds, leaving those behind him to squabble amongst themselves. Schumacher made an elegant move on Armstrong for the final podium position, leaving it late to squeeze ahead with the aid of DRS. But, he did not sit there for long, as the fire extinguisher in his car accidentally went off and he was forced to head back to the pits to retire.
Nikita Mazepin hadn’t enjoyed the greatest of starts to 2020 and failed to score points for the third race in a row on Saturday, finishing 14th. The Russian enjoyed a better time of things on Sunday, shooting up to eighth to take the final points’ position.
It was a similarly successful morning for Jack Aitken and Sean Gelael, who rose three places each to sixth and seventh.
It wasn’t quite such a strong day for Callum Ilott. The Briton lost fourth to Guanyu Zhou at the start, and despite piling on the pressure late in the race, he could not win back the position. His teammate reacted to the challenge by getting within a second of Armstrong in third, enabling him to use DRS and defend.
Lundgaard crossed the line unopposed, with Ticktum unable to challenge the Dane for the race lead. Armstrong finished third, more than 8s back, with Zhou and Ilott completing the top five.
Despite suffering a DNF, Shwartzman holds on to first in the Drivers’ Championship on 48 points, five ahead of Lundgaard and Ilott. Ticktum moves up to fourth, ahead of Armstrong. In the Teams’ Championship, ART Grand Prix are first with 77 points, ahead of UNI-Virtuosi on 70 and PREMA Racing on 62. DAMS are fourth and MP Motorsport sixth.
KEY QUOTE – CHRISTIAN LUNDGAARD (ART GRAND PRIX)
“Good day today with the race win. Yesterday I ruined it a bit more myself by taking a trip through the gravel. To be on the podium with Marcus (Armstrong) is good. I am here now though and I am happy.
“I am looking forward to next week. I have been strong in Budapest so far in my career, so I hope to get the best out of the car so that we can maximise the results.”
F2 will depart Spielberg after two weeks of racing in the Styrian mountains and head to Budapest in Hungary. Ilott will look to wrestle back the Championship lead from Shwartzman.