Shwartzman leads home Schumacher for Prema 1-2 in Spa sprint

Robert Shwartzman regained the lead of the FIA Formula 2 championship after leading home teammate Mick Schumacher for a Prema 1-2 in Sunday’s sprint race.

It was a dominant performance from the Russian driver, who took advantage of a collision between Dan Ticktum and Roy Nissany who were contesting the lead into Les Combes, the latter having to retire from the race and bringing about a second Safety Car situation.

It meant that Schwartzman led the race upon resumption on lap 9, and he was then in a class of his own as he opened up a healthy advantage, aided by Ticktum holding faster cars behind him for a number of laps.

“It was a very interesting race,” said Shwartzman afterward. “Finally I got my start quite well and took P3 then I saw the two guys in front were quite aggressive with each other, so yeah, at the beginning I just decided to keep my tyres a bit more safe and get some gap just in case something happened and it happened, they collided. It was quite a big crash I saw, and I used it as an opportunity to get past both of them and I went around the outside of Dan in Turn 7.

“After that I was leading and after the Safety Car, my plan was to fully send it, full attack and it was quite a decent gap, quite big, and also the fastest lap, so I am very happy. Very important points for us and I am happy that we finally achieved again the win. It’s been a while since Hungaroring so I’m very happy and big thanks to the team and everybody who is supporting me.”

Whilst Shwartzman was enjoying building a gap in clean air out front, behind him it was much more of a battle for teammate Schumacher, who was finally able to see his way past the DAMS of Ticktum on the Kemmel Straight and hold onto second, as Guanyu Zhou completed the podium.

“Obviously at the start we were quite compromised, lost grid position and had to fight back,” said Schumacher after the race. “I think with the Safety Cars it helped everybody on the grid to get the tyres to live a bit longer because on this track with the laps we had it was going to be tight so therefore quite thankful for the little breaks we had.

“Again, a really good amount of points and I think I’m not P3 in the championship so really looking forward for the next few races to come. The consistency of the team was amazing, they were able to give me a car that I could fight with in every circumstance so congrats to them and thank you.”

Shwartzman’s victory and the early retirement of title rival Callum Ilott means he once again leads the championship standings by ten points with four races remaining.

“For sure it’s the best points for the team we could take with me and Mick, it’s very important because we’re fighting not just in the drivers’ championship but also in the team championship and as I said, the team did a really good job but the car all weekend was really fast,” added Shwartzman. “Unfortunately yesterday I managed to do a mistake at the start that basically cost me five positions and today we finally did everything perfect, had really strong pace and here we are.”

It rounded off a great weekend for the Prema team, who also grabbed a 1-2 in the earlier F3 sprint race, and the Italian outfit now leads both series in team and driver standings.

Fraser Masefield

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.