Oscar Piastri completed a historic hat-trick in Sprint Race 1 at Yas Marina, running a superb race from 10th to third to seal the Formula 2 crown with a podium and add it to a collection that also includes the 2020 Formula 3 Championship and the 2019 Formula Renault trophy.
Carlin’s Jehan Daruvala beat UNI-Virtuosi’s Felipe Drugovich to take victory on track, but all eyes were locked on Piastri to see if he could wrap up the Championship. And the PREMA driver’s stylish performance was a fitting end to a phenomenal campaign, which includes five wins, 10 podiums and five poles.
Finishing fourth, Robert Shwartzman led Piastri for the majority of the 23 laps and put up a strong fight, but was unable to delay his teammate's coronation, who joined Charles Leclerc and George Russell as rookie champions.
Liam Lawson, Dan Ticktum, Théo Pourchaire and Guanyu Zhou took the remaining points off offer, with tyre wear proving particular challenging in 38-degree track temperatures, which made overtaking difficult in the second half of the race.
AS IT HAPPENED
Daruvala got a great launch when the lights went out, steaking away to head into Turn 1 at the front of the field and ahead of Drugovich. The second Carlin of Dan Ticktum struggled off the line, sinking to fourth, with Liam Lawson also getting the jump on him.
Looking to wrap up the title at the earliest opportunity, Piastri was rapid at the start, lunging from 10th to sixth and putting himself directly behind his teammate Shwartzman, the one driver who could prevent him from clinching the crown.
The PREMAs were in fantastic form as the pair of them scampered ahead of Ticktum for a spot in the top five, before Shwartzman put some daylight between himself and Piastri, taking the final podium position from Lawson and putting the Hitech between himself and his teammate.
But Piastri swiftly responded, getting past Lawson on the following lap and returning to the tyre tracks of Shwartzman.
Daruvala and Drugovich were continuing their battle at the front of the field, as the Red Bull junior fought to ditch the UNI-Virtuosi and rid him of DRS.
All the while, Shwartzman was gaining on the pair of them, the PREMA driver cutting the gap from 3s to 1.5s within a lap, as Virtuosi pressured Drugovich to get the move done on team radio.
Shwartzman appeared in his mirrors, and this gave Drugovich the nudge he needed to make a move on Daruvala, but the Brazilian couldn’t make it stick. Initially getting in front at Turn 8, the Carlin responded and pulled back ahead at Turn 9 to retain P1.
There wasn’t too much going on behind them, with the majority of the field in a battle with their heavily degrading Pirelli, as Lawson led Ticktum, Pourchaire, Zhou, Ralph Boschung and Marcus Armstrong in the remainder of the top 10.
Piastri and Shwartzman had looked pretty settled in third and fourth, gently managing their tyres, but Piastri spotted a late opportunity and decided to take it, firing his PREMA down the inside of Shwartzman at Turn 9. The Russian attempted to fight back as Piastri locked up, but he was unable to reclaim the position as the champion-in-waiting began to pull away.
The Australian had one eye on second place but ran out of laps with just one to go. Daruvala led Drugovich and Piastri across the line for his second win of the season. Shwartzman finished fourth ahead of Lawson, with Ticktum, Pourchaire and Zhou finishing in the final points’ positions.
KEY QUOTE – JEHAN DARUVALA (CARLIN)
“Back on the top step after a disappointing weekend in Jeddah where I didn’t take many points, so it is good to start off the weekend with a victory. We weren’t too strong in Quali, but our race pace looked pretty strong.
“I had a great battle with Felipe (Drugovich) at one point and we were side-by-side for a couple of corners, but I managed to stick it out in front. The car felt good, and I just took it to the chequered flag.
“Congratulations to Oscar (Piastri), I didn’t think that I would see him on the podium from 10th, but a big well done to him, he has dominated the whole year.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP VIEW
Piastri clinches the Championship with a tally of 227.5 points, with Shwartzman in second on 170 and Zhou third with 150. Ticktum is fourth with 143.5 points and Pourchaire fifth on 126.
In the Teams’ Championship, PREMA Racing are champions with 397.5 points, ahead of Carlin on 254.5 and UNI-Virtuosi on 234. Hitech are fourth with 215 points, ahead of ART Grand Prix on 176.
After finishing 10th, Marcus Armstrong will be bidding to take his second victory in as many rounds when he lines up from reverse grid pole in Sprint Race 2. Ralph Boschung will join the DAMS’ driver on the front row of the reverse grid at 6.45pm local time.