Robert Shwartzman dominated 2020 Formula Two Bahrain Sprint for his fourth victory of season, whilst Mick Schumacher built a 14 point lead over Callum Ilott heading into season finale.
Shwartzman comfortably led from lights out to flag to win as Yuki Tsunoda suffered a right-rear puncture in the opening moments to end his podium hopes.
Nikita Mazepin finished second after recovering from stalling on the formation lap whilst Louis Deletraz roared through the field on medium tyres in the closing stages to finish third.
Schumacher found himself caught up in several battles but a mistake at Turn Nine on lap eight saw Schumacher lock-up with title rival, Callum Ilott right behind him with the Brit forced to dive up the inside to avoid a collision and ultimately spun Jehan Daruvala and end his own hopes of a points finish.
Tyre issues soon began to impact Schumacher’s performance with the German eventually finishing seventh after a last lap pass from Christian Lundgaard, as Marcus Armstrong and Guanyu Zhou finished fourth and fifth whilst yesterday’s Feature Race winner – Felipe Drugovich claimed the final point in eighth.
Speaking on his fourth victory of the season, Shwartzman said; “I am really happy with the work that the team has done, because we had a big problem with our pace at the beginning of the weekend. We finally managed to get better and during the race, everything was going well.
“There was a Safety Car and Virtual Safety Car, but I did a decent job at the restart, so in the end it was a comfortable race.”
Schumacher now leads Ilott in the standings by 14 points heading to next weekend’s finale where a maximum of 48 points are on offer, whilst Mazepin, Shwartzman and Tsunoda are all still in title contention unlike Lundgaard who is eliminated from the fight.
Mazepin stalled at the start of the formation lap but was able to get away before Artem Markelov passed to be allowed to take up his fourth place grid slot, only to then struggle upon the race start as Shwartzman fended off the fast starting Tsunoda to lead into Turn One, unaware that the Japense driver had been tagged by Marcus Armstrong.
Tsunoda soon developed a right-rear puncture to drop him out of points contention which left his FIA Superlicense hopes hanging by a thread heading into next weekend’s finale, needing at least fifth in the drivers’ standing in order to graduate to F1 with AlphaTauri next season.
Further down the order, Lundgaard got a lightning start from 19th on the grid to find himself 12th by the end of lap two after passing Drugovich, who had suffered a poor start.
Mazepin soon found himself battling Schumacher for fourth on lap three and made a move at turn one only to find himself repassed at turn four, before finally getting the job done at the first corner on the next lap ahead of taking third from Daruvala on lap five into turn four.
On lap six, Ilott passed British compatriot – Jack Aitken for sixth with Schumacher rapidly within his sights until HWA Racelab’s Theo Pourchaire suffered a fire extinguisher failure, triggering an one-lap safety car in which a few drivers including Deletraz pitted.
Upon the race restart on lap eight, Schumacher locked up late into turn nine which forced Ilott to take evasive action up the inside of his title rival, unfortunately clipping Daruvala into a race-ending spin and rip off his own front wing as Ilott soon received a drive-through penalty for his error.
Ilott eventually recovered to 16th whilst Schumacher struggled with unclear damage on his front wing after making minor contact with Ilott’s UNI-Virtuosi car during the melee.
Schumacher then embarked on a defensive drive with Zhou demoting him to sixth on lap 15 with Lundgaard soon trying to do the same, only to get ruthlessly blocked a lap later on the exit of that same corner which forced him to slip back until the closing stages.
Deletraz meanwhile was on a charge and overtook Drugovich, Lundgaard, Schumacher, Zhou and Armstrong on consecutive laps from laps 18 to 21, before benefitting from his Charouz teammate – Pedro Piquet unexpectedly retiring from third with a technical issue to claim the final podium on lap 22.
Further behind the Swiss driver, Lundgaard had reeled Schumacher back in and eventually made the pass for sixth in the final few corners for sixth, ensuring that Schumacher had only extended his title lead by two points over Ilott to 14 points with one round remaining of this season.
2020 Bahrain Sprint Race Result
|1||Robert Shwartzman||Prema||23||43m 15.992|
|2||Nikita Mazepin||ART GP||23||+ 5.283|
|3||Louis Deletraz||Charouz||23||+ 6.472|
|4||Marcus Armstrong||ART GP||23||+ 10.655|
|5||Guanyu Zhou||UNI-Virtuosi||23||+ 15.133|
|6||Christian Lundgaard||ART GP||23||+ 18.564|
|7||Mick Schumacher||Prema||23||+ 20.741|
|8||Felipe Drugovich||MP Motorsport||23||+ 23.510|
|9||Roy Nissany||Trident||23||+ 25.352|
|10||Artem Markelov||HWA Racelab||23||+ 31.150|
|11||Marino Sato||Trident||23||+ 31.848|
|12||Dan Ticktum||DAMS||23||+ 39.824|
|13||Giuliano Alesi||MP Motorsport||23||+ 43.904|
|14||Sean Gelael||DAMS||23||+ 44.427|
|15||Yuki Tsunoda||Carlin||23||+ 49.148|
|16||Callum Ilott||UNI-Virtuosi||23||+ 1m 03.463|
|17||Jack Aitken||Campos||22||+ 1 Lap|
|18||Guilherme Samaia||Campos||22||+ 1 Lap|
|19||Pedro Piquet||Charouz||21||+ 2 Laps|
|20||Luca Ghiotto||Hitech GP||10||Engine|
|22||Theo Pourchaire||HWA Racelab||5||Fire Extinguisher|