Robert Shwartzmann has extended his lead in the Formula 2 Drivers’ Championship standings with a sensational Feature Race victory at the Hungaroring.

Having qualified a lowly eleventh in Friday’s rain-hit qualifying session, the Russian showed the talent that propelled him to last year’s Formula 3 title with a superb drive through the field, aided by a smart pit strategy from his Prema Racing team.

With overtaking typically a challenge at the twisty Hungaroring, Prema Racing opted to start Shwartzmann on harder tyres with the aim of running a long first stint to give himself track position as his softer-shod rivals pitted before he would need to.

First-time pole-sitter Callum Ilott started the race on the softer rubber and used his grippy tyres to full effect to lead the field into Turn 1.  Fellow Briton Dan Ticktum (DAMS) slotted into second place, while a rapid Mick Schumacher tucked his Prema into third.

Shwartzmann was the biggest mover, however, vaulting up to sixth place by Turn 2.

The Safety Car was called into action on the following lap when Trident teammates Roy Nissany and Marino Sato collided at Turn 1.  The blame for the accident lay squarely at the feet of Nissany, with the Israeli driver locking up and sliding into the rightly furious Sato.

The race restart triggered further drama between Christian Lundgaard and Luca Ghiotto who were disputing fourth place.  The pair ran side-by-side from Turns 1 to 3, with Lundgaard appearing to lose out to Ghiotto.  The Dane attempted to counter-attack on the uphill run to Turn 4, but only succeeded in tagging Ghiotto’s Hitech and giving his own ART Grand Prix car a puncture.

Following them, Marcus Armstrong attempted to avoid the slower Lundgaard through Turn 5 but the New Zealander tipped the luckless Artem Markelov into the tyre wall and ended the luckless Russian’s race on the spot. Armstrong would himself retire with damage from the contact with Markelov, while Lundgaard was also a non-finisher with his puncture causing bodywork damage to his car.

This incident triggered another Safety Car intervention and at the restart Ticktum dived into the pits to make his compulsory pit stop, dispensing his soft tyres for a long run home on the harder rubber.

Ilott was left to fend off Schumacher – a Sprint Race winner here a year ago – but the Briton attempted to fend off Ticktum’s undercut threat by pitting on the next lap.  This left Schumacher in the lead, with the German trying to stretch his soft tyres for as long as possible.  The tactic appeared to be successful, for when Schumacher made his stop he would emerge in front of everyone else who had already done so and effectively held the race lead.

With the field having had no dry-tyre running all weekend, the Feature Race was proving to be a test of who could manage their tyre life the best. Some, like Ticktum, were already struggling after their early pit stops, with the Briton rapidly losing places to Ghiotto, Guan Yu Zhou and Louis Delétraz.

Sitting in the pound seats were the yet-to-stop trio of Shwartzmann, his fellow Russian Nikita Mazepin (Hitech Grand Prix) and Brazilian rookie Felipe Drugovich (MP Motorsport) who had all started on the harder tyres.

Shwartzmann made his pit stop with ten laps to go, switching to the soft tyres for the run home and emerging in fourth place thanks to lightning work by his Prema Racing crew.  A cold-tyre lock-up briefly handed fourth place to Ghiotto, but once his tyres were up to temperature Shwartzmann reclaimed the position and quickly closed up on and passed Ilott.

When Mazepin pitted, Shwartzmann was now in second place and eating into teammate Schumacher’s lead.

Mazepin was similarly on a charge on his fresh soft tyres.  Rejoining after his pit stop in ninth place, he instantly dispatched Jehan Daruvala and Ticktum for seventh in a single move, and climbed up to fifth place on the next lap with two further passes.

At the same time, Shwartzmann had closed up to the back of Schumacher, who could do nothing to defend the lead from his teammate.

Mazepin continued his charge, vaulting past a fast-fading Ilott and then diving past Schumacher to clinch his first Formula 2 podium finish.  Schumacher hung onto the final spot on the podium.

Ghiotto claimed fourth place ahead of a fast-closing Drugovich, who passed Daruvala and Delétraz on his run to a fine fifth place.  Ilott’s tyres had completely given out, causing the Briton to tumble to eighth place in the final laps.  He will at least have the opportunity for redemption in Sunday’s Sprint Race, starting from the reversed-grid pole.

Ticktum and Zhou completed the points-paying positions, having also struggled with their tyres.

2020 FIA Formula 2 Championship – Hungary Feature Race Final Classification (37 laps)
Driver Team / Entry Laps Result Pts
1. Robert Shwartzman Prema Racing 37 1:01:36.211 25
2. Nikita Mazepin Hitech Grand Prix 37 + 15.599 20
3. Mick Schumacher Prema Racing 37 + 23.051 15
4. Luca Ghiotto Hitech Grand Prix 37 + 32.775 12
5. Felipe Drugovich MP Motorsport 37 + 36.241 10
6. Jehan Daruvala Carlin Motorsport 37 + 40.104 8
7. Louis Delétraz Charouz Racing System 37 + 46.191 6
8. Callum Ilott UNI Virtuosi Racing UNI-Virtuosi Logo 37 + 48.780 8
9. Dan Ticktum DAMS 37 + 49.652 2
10. Guan Yu Zhou UNI Virtuosi Racing UNI-Virtuosi Logo 37 + 52.176 1
11. Giuliano Alesi BWT HWA Racelab 37 + 1:01.789
12. Nobuhara Matsushita MP Motorsport 37 + 1:21.317
13. Jack Aitken Campos Racing 37 + 1:31.744
14. Pedro Piquet Charouz Racing System 37 + 1:45.786
15. Guilherme Samaia Campos Racing 36 1 lap behind
16. Yuki Tsunoda Carlin Motorsport 36 1 lap behind
17. Sean Gelael DAMS 36 1 lap behind
Not Classified Team / Entry Laps Reason
DNF. Christian Lundgaard ART Grand Prix 10 Puncture
DNF. Marcus Armstrong ART Grand Prix 5 Collision
DNS. Artem Markelov BWT HWA Racelab 3 Collision
DNF. Marino Sato Trident Racing 1 Collision
DNF. Roy Nissany Trident Racing 1 Collision

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.
  • Four additional championship points are awarded to the driver (Callum Ilott) and their corresponding team (UNI-Virtuosi) for claiming pole position for the Feature Race.
  • Two additional championship points are awarded to the driver finishing in the top-ten (Nikita Mazepin) and their corresponding team (Hitech Grand Prix) for posting the fastest lap of the race by a top-ten finisher.

Post-Race Penalties:

  • To be advised.

Image via PREMA Racing.

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Geoff Burke

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