Felipe Drugovich took his third win of the season in Sakhir, and his first on a Saturday, as he stormed to victory in the Feature Race. The MP Motorsport rookie is now tied for most wins in 2020, as he finished with a solid 14.8s advantage over polesitter Callum Ilott.
Ilott continued to chip away at Schumacher’s lead at the top of the Drivers’ Championship, slicing it down to just 12 points with three races to go. Starting from 10th, the German produced a sterling recovery drive to fourth, but an 11th podium proved an overtake too far, with Daruvala resiliently taking third to score a maiden podium in F2.
The drive of the day belonged to Daruvala’s teammate, Yuki Tsunoda. The Red Bull junior began the afternoon at the back of the grid, but magnificently made his way up to sixth, behind Nikita Mazepin.
AS IT HAPPENED
Title chasing Ilott’s weekend had gotten off to a superb start, with the UNI-Virtuosi man taking pole by nearly four tenths in Qualifying. But, he wasn’t quite as quick off the line on Saturday as Drugovich flung his MP machine down the left of the Briton ahead of the first corner. Drugovich braked too early and Ilott just about clung on at the exit, but then the Brazilian found further pace and dragged himself in-front, ahead of Turn 2.
Schumacher had struggled to 10th in Qualifying but made his customary strong start when the lights went out, flying all the way to fifth by the first corner alone. Having made it that far, Schumacher went toe-to-toe with Guanyu Zhou for P4, but his back tyre caught the front wing of the Virtuosi. Schumacher avoided any damage and after a brief wobble, dived ahead, before Zhou was forced into the pits with damage.
Schumacher was now looking at the back of Marcus Armstrong and out-braked the Kiwi at the first corner of the second lap, but Armstrong wasn’t planning on surrendering the position that easily. The ART man fought back, playing on the fact he had nothing to lose, while Schumacher couldn’t afford any risks. Having survived the challenge of Schumacher, Armstrong got a move on and dispatched of Ilott at Turn 4, leaving the Briton to battle with his main title rival.
The front two had made the bold decision to start on the softer compound, while the majority of the grid opted for the hard Pirellis. Ilott looked to be feeling the consequences, with his mediums beginning to struggle.
Meanwhile, Schumacher’s hard tyres looked in decent shape and it didn’t take the German long to make the most of this, gliding past Ilott at the first corner. Schumacher was then gifted second, as Armstrong locked up and handed him a view of the race leader
Ilott soldiered on to Lap 13, but his pitstop was slow and cost him precious time, eventually returning in 17th. Race leader Drugovich took his mediums three laps further and returned in P12, one place ahead of Ilott. Schumacher was handed the lead, before pitting with 12 laps to go and returning in sixth.
Schumacher’s teammate, Robert Shwarztman, made the alternate strategy work from 14th, getting over a difficult Qualifying session and making his way to seventh behind his Championship rival Mazepin.
It was a similar story for Tsunoda, who’d said in the leadup to the weekend that the track had “Lots of overtaking zones.” The Carlin racer was making the most of these, beginning the day in 22nd, he had fought all the way to reverse grid pole. He wasn’t finished there, as an overtake on Shwarztman came next, before he followed Mazepin past Armstrong for P6.
Drugovich had opened up an eight second gap at the front, while Schumacher had fought back up to fourth, getting stuck behind Jehan Daruvala, who was battling for a first podium in F2. The German made multiple attempts to take the honour away from the Carlin driver, but opted to air on the side of caution and settled for fourth.
Drugovich comfortably closed out the victory, with Ilott taking second and Daruvala holding on to third. Mazepin finished ahead of Tsunoda in sixth, with Armstrong in seventh and Shwarztman eighth. Ticktum and Jack Aitken completed the top ten.
Schumacher remains at the top of the Drivers’ Championship with 203 points, 12 ahead of Ilott on 191. Tsunoda is third with 157, ahead of Mazepin in fourth on 150 and Christian Lundgaard in fifth, with 145.
In the Teams’ Championship, PREMA are first with 347 points, ahead of UNI-Virtuosi on 310.5 and Hitech Grand Prix on 254. Carlin are fourth with 208 and ART Grand Prix fifth on 189.
KEY QUOTE – FELIPE DRUGOVICH (MP MOTORSPORT)
“An amazing race. That is my first Feature Race win and it feels unbelievable. We got a good start and I got by Callum (Ilott) at Turn 1. The job was a bit easier after that because I got clean air out in front. The pit stop went well and from there it was about keeping the pace. We were really fast, so a big thanks to the team.”
Shwartzman will be bidding for a fourth win of the year in the Sprint Race on Sunday when he lines up on reverse grid pole at 13.00 (local time).