Callum Ilott steered clear of trouble to seal his maiden FIA Formula 2 win in a dramatic first race of the season. The UNI-Virtuosi racer was joined in the top three by fellow Ferrari juniors Marcus Armstrong and Robert Shwarztman, with the duo taking podiums in their F2 debuts.

Ilott enjoyed a dynamite start off the line, swinging his UNI-Virtuosi machine to the centre of the track from third and launching through the middle of front-row starters Drugovich and Zhou. Polesitter Zhou had enjoyed a solid start himself, but a little two much wheelspin paved the way for his teammate to take the lead.

The Renault junior quickly fought back, going side-by-side with Ilott ahead of the second turn, although the Briton narrowly clung on. He wouldn’t have so much luck next time around, as Zhou reclaimed first.

Drugovich was placed under instant pressure by Schumacher in fourth. The MP Motorsport man had already stunned the field by qualifying in P2 on his debut, but seemed to have run out of surprises in the race, handing the position to the more experienced Schumacher.

Shortly after, Schumacher was joined in the top four by his PREMA teammate, with Shwartzman getting passed Drugovich to line up behind the German.

The pit window opened on lap eight and Armstrong made a bold call to dive into the pits just a lap later to switch to the hard Pirelli tyres. The Kiwi clearly banking on the new 18-inch rims going the length.

Zhou wouldn’t pit from first for another nine laps. When the UNI-Virtuosi man did head in, Ilott lost P1 to Schumacher, and subsequently went in for his own tyre change. Having just taken the lead, the German opted to wait another lap to switch from the soft tyres.

It was then that things really got tasty. Ilott’s pit stop was flawless and the Briton got out ahead of his teammate to steal the provisional race lead. Schumacher’s strategy worked even better, with the German returning ahead of them both.

Except, their tyres were cold. Zhou’s were warmer and he managed to claw back ahead of Ilott towards the end of the lap before piling the pressure onto Schumacher.

The German went super defensive in an attempt to retain the position and looked like he might just cling on to it, but was slow off the apex while his tyres heated up and eventually Zhou squeezed past in a narrow overtake.

Ilott’s tyres had warmed up by this point and the Briton pulled off a similar move in the next DRS zone, swinging to the left and sling-shotting down the side of the PREMA at Turn 3.

BWT HWA RACELAB pairing Alesi and Artem Markelov had both opted for the alternate strategy and pitted from first and second, handing back the lead to Zhou. However, just as the Renault junior looked to be in the clear for his first ever F2 win, problems struck. Suffering mechanical issues, he would be forced to head into the pits to investigate, handing the lead to his teammate.

The alternate strategy paid dividends for Alesi, who returned to the track seventh having started the race back in 18th. It was a similar story for Armstrong; the New Zealander had pulled off a masterstroke with the early pitstop, rising to third, with his tyres showing no signs of wearing out.

The ART racer was 4s behind the front two though, with Ilott and Schumacher in a battle for first. That was until a mistake from Schumacher saw the German lose the rear at Turn 7 and head straight off the track. The PREMA man barely managed to keep it out of the barriers, swinging the car around and returning the track, but he was out of the points with less than 10 laps to go.

This handed Ilott an easy run to victory, but the fight continued behind him. Shwartzman was still banking on Armstrong’s tyres running out of steam in the battle for P2, but his patience was fast running out.

The fight was heating up, which brought flashbacks of the Formula 3 race in Spielberg last season when the pair collided while running first and second after an intense battle for the lead. Shwartzman showed maturity to stay behind though. Three times he went for the position, but Armstrong slammed the door shut each time and the Russian was smart enough to know he was beaten.

Ilott would cross the line in first ahead of the pair, with Lundgaard fourth on his own F2 debut. Behind him, Dan Ticktum took his highest ever finish in the Championship ahead of Alesi and Louis Delétraz. Drugovich took eighth and reverse pole, followed over the line Nobuharu Matsushita and Roy Nissany.

Drugovich will start on the front row for the second successive race, following his P8 finish today, which hands him reverse pole. The Brazilian will hope to have learned from a tough debut. Lights go out at 11.10am (local time).

2020 FIA Formula 2 Championship – Austria 1 Feature Race Final Classification (40 laps)
Driver Team / Entry Laps Result Pts
1. Callum Ilott UNI Virtuosi Racing UNI-Virtuosi Logo 40 54:21.050 27
2. Marcus Armstrong ART Grand Prix 40 + 8.856 18
3. Robert Shwartzman Prema Racing 40 + 9.291 15
4. Christian Lundgaard ART Grand Prix 40 + 10.878 12
5. Dan Ticktum DAMS 40 + 11.277 10
6. Giuliano Alesi BWT HWA Racelab 40 + 12.828 8
7. Louis Delétraz Charouz Racing System 40 + 16.267 6
8. Felipe Drugovich MP Motorsport 40 + 17.033 4
9. Nobuhara Matsushita MP Motorsport 40 + 17.435 2
10. Roy Nissany Trident Racing 40 + 19.453 1
11. Mick Schumacher Prema Racing 40 + 20.049
12. Jehan Daruvala Carlin Motorsport 40 + 22.008
13. Pedro Piquet Charouz Racing System 40 + 24.996
14. Nikita Mazepin Hitech Grand Prix 40 + 25.885
15. Jack Aitken Campos Racing 40 + 30.138
16. Guilherme Samaia Campos Racing 40 + 53.934
17. Guan Yu Zhou UNI Virtuosi Racing UNI-Virtuosi Logo 39 1 lap behind 4
18. Yuki Tsunoda Carlin Motorsport 39 1 lap behind
Not Classified Team / Entry Laps Reason
DNF. Artem Markelov BWT HWA Racelab 26 Mechanical
DNF. Sean Gelael DAMS 16 Mechanical
DNF. Marino Sato Trident Racing 2 Mechanical
DNS. Luca Ghiotto Hitech Grand Prix 0 Mechanical

Championship Points:

  • Championship points are awarded on the results of the Feature Race’s top-ten finishers on a 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 sliding scale.
  • Guanyu Zhou is awarded four bonus championship points for claiming pole position for the Feature Race.
  • Callum Ilott is awarded two bonus championship points for posting the fastest lap of the Feature Race by a top-ten finisher.

Post-Race Penalties:

  • To be advised.

Images and text via FIA Formula 2 Championship

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Geoff Burke

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