Starting from the front row, MP Motorsport driver Felipe Drugovich dominated the Barcelona Sprint Race to take his second FIA Formula 2 season in his rookie campaign.
There was some drama before the lights went out as Giuliano Alesi stalled his car on the grid. While his rivals were on their installation lap, he was pushed back by his mechanics into the pits. The young Frenchman’s car was restarted, and he could crawl slowly down the pit lane to wait for the start.
At the start, pole-sitter Luca Ghiotto was overtaken by Felipe Drugovich. Mick Schumacher had another great getaway, but he was unable to capitalize on that, losing a position to championship leader Callum Ilott. Robert Shwartzman lost a position on the opening lap.
On lap 8, Nikita Mazepin passed Louis Deletraz down the main straight to improve to ninth. The Frenchman began to struggle with tyre degradation, dropping down the grid.
Three laps later, Ilott got within DRS range of Ghiotto who was seemingly having issues with his tyres. Schumacher was also catching the pair ahead.
Ilott attampted a move against Giotto, but was unable to execute the manoeuvre perfectly. On lap 15, Nikita Mazepin braked late into Turn 1 to overtake Shwartzman. With 10 laps to go, Drugovich managed to increase his lead to 8.6 seconds. On that lap, Yuki Tsunoda cruised by Guanyu Zhou.
On lap 19, Shwartzman dived into the pits to take new boots after struggling badly with high tyre degradation.
On lap 21. Schumacher fired past Ilott who started to struggle with tyres. The championship leader was sliding around in the closing laps, struggling for rear end grip. Tsunoda, Matsushita, Mazepin, Piquet and Lungaard all overtook Ilott in the dying minutes of the sprint race.
However, the stewards deemed that the Dane’s manoeuvre on Ilott as unfair after the Renault-backed driver went a bit wide while passing his Ferrari-backed rival. Lungaard was handed a five-second penalty that saw him drop down the order to 11th while Ilott managed to add a single championship point to his tally.
While there were changes up and down the field with the drivers who opted for a late tyre chang charging through the field, Drugovich’s lead was never in question with the 20-year-old Brazilian controlling the tyre degradation-affected thriller at Barcelona. Hitech Grand Prix driver Ghiotto came in second ahead of Prema driver Schumacher.
After Round 10 of the season, Callum Ilott continues to lead in the Standings. The Briton is 18 point clear of second-placed Robert Shwartzman, followed by Christian Lungaard.