Tsunoda dedicates Spa feature victory to Hubert after controversial win

Yuki Tsunoda dedicated his second F2 race victory of the season to Antoine Hubert, who tragically lost his life at Spa-Francorchamps last year.

Before the race, drivers and team members stood for a minute’s silence on the grid and were joined on the grid by members of the Hubert family as well as Juan Manuel Correa, who was also involved in the highly unfortunate accident and was fortunate to escape with his life.

Many drivers from F1 down to F3 are sporting Antoine memorial logos on their helmets this weekend, and there was still the matter of a race to perform in the honour of the Frenchman, who was surely destined for a glittering career after multiple victories in the series and throughout his career before tragedy struck.

And it was a hard fought race of which he surely would have approved, Tsunoda going toe-to-toe with Nikita Mazepin from the start of the race before the first series of pit stops saw the Russian come out ahead after a slow stop due to a sticking right rear tyre cost the Carlin driver time.

Prema’s Mick Schumacher was also in the hunt after a flying start off the line saw him rocket from seventh to third off the lights. But the German was also hampered by a slow left-front tyre change that effectively saw his chances of victory evaporate.

Regardless, it still made for a thrilling finish and, with Tsunoda all over the back of Mazepin with a lap remaining, the Japanese made a dart for a gap into Les Combes that appeared to be there. Mazepin closed the door, but may have had the racing line, forcing Tsunoda to clatter over the kerbs and back off.

It seemed a decision that could have gone either way, but the race stewards came down on the side of Tsunoda, awarding Mazepin a five-second penalty that cost him the race win.

It all makes for an intriguing Sunday sprint race, Schumacher’s podium finish seeing him leapfrog Mazepin to fourth in the standings and only 17 points behind race winner Tsunoda. And Robert Shwartzman’s fifth place finish means the Russian is now only seven points behind leader Callum Ilott.

“I think despite the, let’s say, bad qualifying I had yesterday I think we maximised what we had,” said Schumacher afterward. “I think we maximised our points and not to bad of a starting position tomorrow similar to where I started today two positions further forward. Tomorrow is going to be important to get the clean air, unfortunately I wasn’t able to make the gap to the guys in front, missed a bit of time in the pit stop but nevertheless I think everybody had some troubles there and so at the end, very happy with P3.”

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.

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