PREMA’s Oscar Piastri moved towards the brink of the 2021 F2 title following victory in an incident-packed Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Following a 40 minute delay for barrier repairs, the race got off to a disastrous start as Theo Pourchaire stalled at lights out from third on the grid and was struck from behind by Enzo Fittipaldi, which triggered a 38 minute red flag as both drivers got medical treatment.
Stewards consequently changed the race to a 20 minute sprint with a mandatory pit-stop as Piastri led the field back racing with a rolling start, with the championship leader quickly building a gap to Robert Shwartzman prior to his stop at the end of Lap Six.
Further behind Piastri as he made his stop whilst holding the point for Fastest Lap, Olli Caldwell suffered a spin and was collected by Guilherme Samaia with the Safety Car swiftly deployed followed by the red flag with a decision not to resume the race.
The race result consequently was counted back to the end of Lap Five with Piastri declared the winner ahead of Shwartzman and Ralph Boschung, who claimed his maiden F2 podium, although half-points were awarded due to failure to complete 75% race distance.
In the driver standings, Piastri now holds a 52.5 point lead over his PREMA teammate, Shwartzman, with a maximum of 65 points available in the season finale next weekend in Abu Dhabi meaning that Piastri needs just 14 points to seal the title.
PREMA meanwhile wrapped up the teams’ championship quietly as thoughts of the paddock quickly switched to Pourchaire and Fittipaldi as further updates are awaited on their conditions.
The race was delayed 40 minutes due to repair work of barriers at Turn 13 due to an accident during a Porsche Cup race held beforehand, which meant that the F2 cars all made their way from the support paddock to the pit lane under the Safety Car in opposite direction.
At lights out once the race got underway, Piastri made a clean start to lead Shwartzman as Pourchaire stalled from third on the grid, which caused Fittipaldi to accidentally crash into the Frenchman’s stricken ART GP car at full speed.
Speculation quickly began to circulate around the well-being of both drivers and F2 bosses responded with the following statement: ‘The drivers were immediately attended to by emergency and medical crews. The drivers were conscious and extricated by the attending medical crews.
‘Both have been transferred by ambulance and helicopter to King Fahad Armed Forces Hospital, Jeddah.’
Dan Ticktum and Liam Lawson meanwhile collided through Turn Two with both drivers able to continue albeit with damage as the red flag was quickly waved shortly afterwards due to the incident on the grid.
Boschung meanwhile got a great launch to leap from seventh to third ahead of Zhou and Drugovich who rounded out the top five.
The race resumed 38 minutes later with the race distance reduced to 20 minutes plus one lap, as the Safety Car led the field back round, before Piastri took over for a rolling start as the top nine held position as Ticktum dived up inside of Lawson at Turn One for tenth.
Up front, Piastri quickly built a small gap of just over one second before making his mandatory pit stop at the end of Lap Six, which saw him re-join fifth as the Safety Car was deployed during his stop after Caldwell spun and collected Samaia with the red flag shows shortly afterwards.
Stewards swiftly decided thereafter to not resume the race with Piastri declared as winner ahead of Shwartzman and Boschung.
Piastri now heads into next weekend’s season finale in Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi looking to become only the third driver to win consecutive modern F3 and F2 titles in successive seasons.
|1||Oscar Piastri||PREMA||5||47m 09.339|
|2||Robert Shwartzman||PREMA||5||+ 1.148|
|3||Ralph Boschung||Campos||5||+ 2.757|
|4||Guanyu Zhou||UNI-Virtuosi||5||+ 3.020|
|5||Felipe Drugovich||UNI-Virtuosi||5||+ 4.407|
|6||Juri Vips||Hitech GP||5||+ 4.871|
|7||Christian Lundgaard||ART GP||5||+ 6.069|
|8||Marcus Armstrong||DAMS||5||+ 6.178|
|9||Liam Lawson||Hitech GP||5||+ 6.547|
|10||Dan Ticktum||Carlin||5||+ 9.434|
|11||Jehan Daruvala||Carlin||5||+ 9.593|
|12||Bent Viscaal||Trident||5||+ 10.177|
|13||Jack Doohan||MP Motorsport||5||+ 10.445|
|14||Logan Sargeant||HWA Racelab||5||+ 12.359|
|15||Roy Nissany||DAMS||5||+ 12.740|
|16||Olli Caldwell||Campos||5||+ 13.736|
|17||Guilherme Samaia||Charouz||5||+ 15.494|
|18||Marino Sato||Trident||5||+ 16.871|
|19||Clement Novalak||MP Motorsport||5||+ 17.134|
|20||Alessio Deledda||HWA Racelab||5||20.776|
|RET||Theo Pourchaire||ART GP||0||Collision|