Ilott cuts Schumacher gap at top of F2 standings as Drugovich wins Bahrain feature

Britain’s Callum Ilott narrowed the gap at the top of the Formula 2 drivers’ standings to 12 points between himself and Mick Schumacher after a gutsy second place in the Bahrain feature race on Saturday.

The race was won by a dominant Felipe Drugovich, who took his third victory and first feature win of the season after he passed pole sitter Ilott at the start and made the transition from hard tyres to mediums work better than any of his rivals.

It was a case of damage limitation for Schumacher, after a tough qualifying saw the Prema man start from 10th on the grid. But another superb drive saw the German make up several places at the start and only a brilliant defensive effort from Jehan Daruvula kept him off the podium at the end.

“I got an all right start, and then the first stint wasn’t the best and I don’t think we got the car right for the option tyres,” said Ilott afterward. “But we put the hards on and they were amazing, so I pushed quite hard out of the box to undercut Felipe and I managed to do so but he came on with fresher tyres and pulled away from me, he had amazing pace that race so well done to them.

“For us it was great points and a good position for tomorrow. I have to get a good start, I don’t think my start was too bad, so I should make up a couple of places hopefully, manage it from there and get more points on the board.”

Nikita Mazepin finished fifth behind Schumacher at the finish but arguably the drive of the day came from Yuki Tsunoda, who stormed through the field from 22nd to sixth at the finish after recovering from a spin. Marcus Armstrong, Robert Shwartzman, Dan Ticktum and Jack Aitken rounded out the points scoring finishers.

The Prema team, partnered by Acronis, already has the team championship all but sewn up. But Saturday’s result means that whatever happens in Sunday’s sprint race, the championship battle will go down to the final weekend of the season and a grandstand finish.

“We can be quite happy about how the race went,” reflected Schumacher. “The recovery we did at the start, going from P10 to P4, is providing us with a decent amount of points. Even more encouraging is that we surely were among the fastest cars on track, so taking this into consideration for tomorrow clearly makes us confident.

“Also, having both cars in the front rows of the sprint race is positive for the Team’s Championship which I am really happy about. Some cars today seem to struggle more than us which lets us go away from today with a good feeling for tomorrow. We now have to transform all that into good results and gain some ground back.”

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.