Shwartzman wins first sprint race in Baku to enter championship contention

Robert Shwartzman delivered a superb pole to flag victory to net his first victory of his 2021 campaign and place himself firmly into championship contention.

The Russian driver endured a disappointing qualifying performance on Friday, setting the tenth fastest time. But such is the nature of the reverse grid format in F2, he started in prime position for the opening race.

It was an opportunity he wasn’t to miss out on, the Prema driver getting a perfect start off the line and stretching his lead to win comfortably from Dan Ticktum and championship leader Guanyu Zhou.

“My first time in Baku and I’ve taken the top step, so I’m really happy,” said Shwartzman afterward. “The pace was really good so a big thanks to the team. With this sort of pace, we just need to improve our results in the other two races. Let’s keep pushing and we will see where we end up.”

Victory for Shwartzman means that he climbs to fifth in the drivers’ standings with 45 points, only ten behind second placed Theo Pourchaire, with Zhou out in front on 78.

It could have been much better for the Prema team, partnered by Acronis, had last year’s F3 champion and Monaco winner Oscar Piastri not been involved in an unfortunate first lap collision for which Felipe Drugovich magnanimously apologised afterwards.

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