Yuki Tsunoda clinched a dramatic Sakhir Feature Race victory whilst the title fight between Mick Schumacher and Callum Ilott goes to the final race of this season.
Tsunoda lost the lead from pole position into Turn One to Nikita Mazepin but bar a momentarily regaining of position in the pit stop phrase, the Carlin driver had to bide his time and made a race winning move on Nikita Mazepin into the first corner on lap 44.
Although he took victory, Tsunoda however failed to get fastest lap which meant that he was eliminated from the title fight, as was Mazepin who also needed the win plus fastest lap to keep his title dreams alive.
Zhou took second after executing an excellent alternative strategy which saw the Sochi Sprint winner come close to his first Feature Race win, whilst Mazepin fended off Felipe Drugovich and Robert Shwartzman for third as Callum Ilott clung on for sixth.
Mazepin however was penalised ten seconds for firstly forcing Tsunoda into the pit exit lane which almost caused a collision with Christian Lundgaard who had pitted, before secondly blocking Drugovich on the main straight on final lap.
Tsunoda consequently escaped a penalty for his near miss with Lundgaard after stewards adjudged that Mazepin was ultimately at fault rather than the Japanese driver.
Mick Schumacher recovered from 18th on alternative strategy to finish s ahead of Jehan Daruvala who took reverse-pole for the final Sprint of this season, until Mazepin’s post-race time penalty was added to give Ticktum reverse pole instead.
Schumacher now leads Ilott by 14 points heading into Sunday’s title deciding Sprint Race, with Ilott simply needing to win and possibly take fastest lap to snatch the crown whereas Schumacher just needs to avoid conceding 15 points by any means to be promoted to F1 as F2 champion.
Tsunoda got a clean start to lead Mazepin who stuck to inside line of Turn One to snatch the lead from which he proceeded to fend off from Shwartzman and Tsunoda
Ilott meanwhile improved from ninth to seventh off the line whilst Schumacher managed to recover from 18th on grid to 15th by the end of the opening lap.
UNI Virtuosi however had put their drivers on alternative strategies with Zhou on the harder tyres passing Ilott for seventh on lap two with Ticktum eventually following through on lap 12 whilst Schumacher found himself in 12th by the end of lap seven.
Up front, Drugovich passed Artem Markelov for fourth on lap nine whilst Zhou managed to get past Daruvala for sixth just three laps later, with both moves being made into Turn One.
Tsunoda passed Shwartzman for second into the first corner a lap later as the Russian’s softs began to fade, forcing him into an early stop which left him 17th on re-entry into the race.
Several drivers on the same strategy consequently began to pit in the following laps with Tsunoda and Ilott pitting on lap 17 from the lead and sixth respectively, as both drivers enjoyed clean stops.
Mazepin however pitted at the end of lap 15 and came out in the net race lead ahead of Shwartzman once Tsunoda made his stop, with Drugovich meanwhile running his softs long to the end of lap 20 before pitting which brought him into play in the closing stages.
Zhou meanwhile assumed the lead up front until he stopped for softs on lap 28 with Schumacher following suit a lap later as Ilott passed Daruvala for seventh after the Indian stopped early on lap seven.
Schumacher rejoined in 11th but a lock-up at Turn Four left him stuck behind Deletraz and Ticktum with the Brit soon making the pass, as Schumacher then followed through on lap 33 into Turn One.
On lap 31, Zhou was served a five second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane during his stop whilst Mazepin, Shwartzman and Tsunoda squabbled out in front for the race victory.
Zhou however soon warmed up his tyres and unleashed a charge on his soft tyres as he took Ilott for sixth on lap 37 before getting Shwartzman five laps later, which eventually became second on lap 45 after taking Drugovich and Mazepin out of Turn Three as the Brazilian ran wide.
At the front, Tsunoda got Shwartzman for second on lap 37 after narrowly avoiding slamming into Lundgaard who was rejoining the track after his stop a lap earlier, as the Honda junior was attempting to pass his Ferrari counterpart.
Mazepin meanwhile was struggling with lock ups but two lock-ups on lap 43 left the newly promoted Haas 2021 driver vulnerable, as Tsunoda made a pass into Turn One with DRS at the start of the next lap for the lead and eventual victory despite a momentarily fightback into Turn Four from Mazepin.
Drugovich however was on Mazepin’s tail and got second after the Russian ran wide at the end of that lap only to run wide himself at Turn Three to give Zhou second as he ultimately found himself passed by Mazepin and denied a podium finish as Shwartzman and Ilott closed in at the flag.
Zhou meanwhile took advantage of Drugovich and Mazepin’s fighting to build a 5s gap which was enough for him to keep second once his penalty was added to his race time, having finished just 0.613s behind Tsunoda at the flag.
Schumacher meanwhile followed Ticktum through when both passed Markelov on lap 34 before a lock-up two laps later from Ticktum at Turn Four unleashed the German to chase down and pass Daruvala for seventh, finishing just behind Ilott.
Mazepin’s post-race 10s time penalty consequently put Ticktum on reverse pole from Daruvala with Schumacher ahead of Ilott on the second row in a straight shootout.
2020 Sakhir Feature Race Result
|1||Yuki Tsunoda||Carlin||48||52m 59.396|
|2||Guanyu Zhou||UNI Virtuosi||48||+ 5.613|
|3||Felipe Drugovich||MP Motorsport||48||+ 6.655|
|4||Robert Shwartzman||PREMA||48||+ 7.438|
|5||Callum Ilott||UNI Virtuosi||48||+ 8.143|
|6||Mick Schumacher||PREMA||48||+ 10.339|
|7||Jehan Daruvala||Carlin||48||+ 11.818|
|8||Dan Ticktum||DAMS||48||+ 14.640|
|9||Nikita Mazepin||Hitech GP||48||+ 16.280|
|10||Pedro Piquet||Charouz||48||+ 17.511|
|11||Marcus Armstrong||ART GP||48||+ 17.789|
|12||Louis Deletraz||Charouz||48||+ 19.374|
|13||Artem Markelov||HWA Racelab||48||+ 31.999|
|14||Ralph Boschung||Campos||48||+ 34.388|
|15||Giuliano Alesi||MP Motorsport||48||+ 35.082|
|16||Luca Ghiotto||Hitech GP||48||+ 38.113|
|17||Marino Sato||Trident||48||+ 39.059|
|18||Theo Pourchaire||HWA Racelab||48||+ 41.719|
|19||Sean Gelael||DAMS||48||+ 45.847|
|20||Roy Nissany||Trident||48||+ 50.305|
|21||Christian Lundgaard||ART GP||48||+ 59.292|
|22||Guilherme Samaia||Campos||47||+ 1 Lap|