Ferrari junior driver Robert Shwartzman took his maiden FIA Formula 2 win in today’s feature race at the Red Bull Ring in difficult wet-weather conditions.
The torrential rain that led to the cancellation of Formula One’s third practice session and the delay to the qualifying session, the Formula 2 drivers were also forced to wait until the action could start. After completing a couple of laps behind the safety car, the race director stopped the action and instructed the drivers to dive into the pit lane to park their car.
This delayed the start by over an hour as they waited for the conditions to ease. Race Director Silvia Bellot deemed it dry enough for a safety car start shortly after 18:30 local time, and the grid headed out onto the track. The rain eased somewhat, and the safety car returned to the pits after four laps, at which point racing finally got underway.
Despite starting the race from only the sixth position, Shwartzman showed an incredible pace on his way to the victory. Pole-sitter Yuki Tsunoda performed well but decided for a late pit stop which meant that he rejoined the action third.
Although Guanyu Zhou led for a few laps, he was struggling for grip and Shwartzman did not need a second invitation to jump into the lead. On his fresh tyres, Tsunoda easily overtook his Shanghai-born rival, but he was unable to retake the lead from Shwartzman despite hunting him all down the chequered flag.
Mick Schumacher secured the fourth by performing brilliantly to rise from ninth after a tough Qualifying session.
Despite winning today, Shwatzman acknowledged that the start of the delayed and reduced 36-lap feature race was rather difficult for him due to handling issues with his car.
“I am super happy to finish first, and I couldn't have expected that result from the start. The beginning was really tough, and I had some issues with the car after the restart. There was a lot of rain coming down on the visor and I couldn't see much, but slowly the rain started to go away and I started to pick up the pace and get ahead of a few cars. From P4, we have done a really great strategy, so a massive thanks to the team, who were really quick on the pit.”
Reflecting on the fight between himself and Zhou, Shwatzman said that he really needed to push to defend his position from the Shanghai-born driver.
“We exited behind Zhou and he was really fast, but he started to lose grip and we had an interesting fight. I got passed him and took the provisional leading position, but my engineer told me that Yuki was really quick, so
„I couldn’t rest or relax. I saw him coming and the last laps were really intense because I started to lose the rear grip. Thankfully, Yuki was struggling a bit by then too, which saved me.
After climbing out of his Prema F2 car, the 20-year-old Russian driver pointed to the back of his helmet that features a touching gesture with which Shwartzman remembers his dad. On 18 April 2020, Shwartzman's father died of COVID-19 aged 52