F2: Tsunoda clinches victory in feature race

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Belgium, Circuit de Spa-Francorchampsbe

Red Bull junior driver Yuki Tsunoda took victory after Niki Mazepin was handed a five-second penalty. The Japanese took his second Formula 2 victory of the season.

When the lights went out, pole-sitter Yuki Tsunoda kept his lead. Robert Shwartzman dropped a couple of places at the start while his championship rival Callum Ilott gained two spots at the first lap chaos.

Starting on the soft compound, Nobuharu Matsushita already started to struggle with tyre degradation. Mick Schumacher did not ask for an invitation and passed the Japanese on lap 3. His team mate Robert Shwartzman followed the German, overtaking Matsushita on the long Kemmel straight.

At the brutally fast Blanchimont corner, MP Motorsprot driver Felipe Drugovich tried an overtaking manoeuvre on his team mate Matsushita, but he clipped the right rear tyre with his front wing. The Japanese suffered a puncture and crashed into the tyre barriers. Virtual safety car was deployed to clear the debris.

On lap 6, the action continued with the leading duo of Tsunoda and Nikita Mazepin gradually escaping from the rest of the pack.Two laps later, Guanyu Zhou overtook Louis Deletraz to take 4th position. On the next lap, Dan Ticktum went by Ilott, showing good race pace despite missing the practice session on Friday following an inconclusive test for the novel Covid-19 coronavirus.

On lap 9, Mazepin, Schumacher pitted for new medium Pirelli tyres. The German lost a couple of seconds due to a problem with the left front tyre. On the following lap, Tsunoda, Shwartzman and Deletraz dived into the pits for new boots.

The Japanese endured a slow pit stop which saw him lose a position to Mazepin after rejoining the track.

Lap 14 saw a bunch of drivers visit the pit lane including Pedro Piquet, Ticktum, Ilott, Jack Aitken and Marcus Armstrong. Two laps later, Zhou and Roy Nissany also pitted.

On lap 19, the pit lane stood and applauded Anthoine Hubert who will forever own the number 19 in F2.

With five laps to go, Zhou overtook Ilott for 8th place, using the better condition of his fresher tyres. On the same lap, Tsunoda completely closed in on Mazepin, showing better late-race pace. Ilott started to struggle with tyre wear with Nissany also overtaking the championship leader.

The fight at the front started to intensify with Tsunoda adamant to regain his lead he held at the start of the race. The Japanese tried an overtaking move on almost every lap with Mazepin defending his lead very aggressively every time in Turn 5. In the end, the Russian hung on to take the win, but he received a five-second penalty for a too aggressive defending move and forcing Tsunoda off the track at Turn 5.

The Russian is also under investigation for knocking a parc ferme marker board near to Spa Formula 2 feature race winner Yuki Tsunoda. Mazepin was clearly unimpressed by the decision of the race direction.

After the feature race at Spa, Callum Ilott continues to lead the Drivers’ Championship, but his lead has dropped to just seven points from Robert Shwartzman. Yuki Tsunoda jumped to the third place in the Standing, eleven points behind Ilott. Mick Schumacher also gained a couple of position with his third-place finish, improving to fourth in the Standings.