Shwartzman takes 4th F2 win of season in Bahrain as Schumacher extends championship lead

Prema’s Robert Scwartzman remained in mathematical contention for the Formula 2 title after a composed pole to flag victory in the Bahrain sprint race netted his fourth win of the season.

Importantly for the championship, Mick Schumacher was able to bring his Prema home in seventh but he was fortunate first that title rival Callum Ilott didn’t hit him in his attempted overtake, instead wiping out Jehan Daruvala and ending his hopes of points.

It meant a 14-point swing in the German’s favour and also means that both winner Shwartzman and second placed Nikita Mazepin also remain in mathematical contention going into the final two races of the season on Bahrain’s outer circuit.

“It’s never easy,” said Shwartzman afterward. “We struggled in pace, especially in qualifying and I’m very happy to be here. “We did a big start and very proud of my team, they did a very good job. The race itself was quite intense, the start was intense, Marcus (Armstrong) was right behind me so I defended the whole lap in front of him and then I managed to get a gap, quite a comfortable gap, I think two seconds, and then the safety car came out so everybody again backed up. I needed to do a good restart and managed a more or less not bad restart and then there was another Virtual Safety Car, so every time they were quite close to me.

“Then I saw Marcus did a mistake into Turn 1 and then there was Nikita behind me for a few laps and was keeping the same pace. I was thinking ‘what should I do? Should I push more or still take care of the tyres and I decided to take care of the tyres and in the end it worked out, I had good pace, and I managed to get a big gap.”

It was a dramatic start to the race, fellow contender Yuki Tsonoda charging to second before a right rear puncture on lap two ended his chances. Then came the big drama on lap 9, Schumacher locking up into Turn 10 and tempting Ilott into making a pass down the inside. But the Englishman misjudged his braking, sliding into the helpless Daruvala and taking him out of the race.

It also meant a penalty for Ilott but the damage to his car dropped him to the back of the field after he pitted for a new front wing. Still the drama was not over, the luckless Pedro Piquet suffering a loss of drive whilst running third just a lap from the finish, promoting Louis Deletraz, who made up 13 places to snatch an unlikely podium.

The weekend was still a net gain for Ilott, with Schumacher only managing a fourth and seventh place to Ilott’s second place in the Saturday feature.

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.

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