F2: Tsunoda wins Sakhir feature race, Schumacher closes in on title

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Red Bull junior driver Yuki Tsunoda took a fantastic third victory of the season from pole while championship leader Mick Schumacher drove brilliantly to end 7th after starting from P18.

Nikita Mazepin got off the line well with Robert Shwartzman also having a good start. The duo moved into the lead, leaving pole-sitter Yuki Tsunoda third. At the back end of the field, Mick Schumacher managed to improve his starting position by three places to move up the order to P15.

Starting on the alternative strategy, Mick used his Hard tyres to good measure, improving position after position. The highly-talented German, who has been just confirmed as Haas F1 Team’s 2021 driver, passed Theo Pourchaire on the main straight on Lap 7 to move into P12. Four laps later, he also found the way to slip past Pedro Piquet while, at the front, Tsunoda swept past Shwartzman.

Jehan Daruvala became the first driver to pit for new tyres. The next lap saw Shwartzman box to take new boots. Callum Ilott had a relatively slow start to his race and boxed on Lap 16. The Briton immediately found better grip on the fresh Hard compound.

When Mazepin and Tsunoda pitted, Guanyu Zho, who started on the hard tyre, inherited the lead. The Chinese driver and Dan Ticktum pitted just a few laps later, leaving Schumacher in the lead. The German also decided to box on Lap 29 and dropped back to P13 when he rejoined the track.

Schumacher had to push to limit the damage in the Championship. Feeling this pressure, he got past Louis Deletraz on Lap 33 for P11 and he also set the fastest lap with a time of 1m04.087.

The race direction noted that Guanyu Zhou received a five-second penalty for speeding in the pitlane. On Lap 35, Tsunoda overtook Shwartzman into Turn 4 when the Russian began to struggle for grip.

Using his fresher tyre, Zhou passed Ilott for P5. Schumacher, meanwhile, executed a brilliant move to overtake Ticktum. The German also overtook Piquet on Lap 39.

When the race approached its final stages, Mazepin and Tsunoda were locked in battle for the lead. The two went back and forth, and it was the Carlin driver who eventually made the position stick, thanks to a brilliant late braking move.

Having lost momentum, Mazepin dropped back and was also overtaken by the late-charging Guanyu Zhou. The Chinese finished second despite his five-second penalty as he could build up enough of a gap in front of Mazepin.

In the end, Tsunoda crossed the line with a 5.6s advantage over Zhou, with Mazepin retaining the final podium position.

“I am really, really happy with my result and I want to thank Carlin again. We’ve had really good pace this weekend, especially in the race, and I've done my job.

“The start was really bad, but I trusted my driving and my tyre management. Both went well and I got P1 back, so I am really happy and looking forward to tomorrow,” said the Honda-backed Japanese driver.

Ahead of the season finale, Schumacher retains a 14-point advantage, sitting first on 213 points, ahead of Ilott on 199. Tsunoda is up to third on 186, with Mazepin fourth on 177 and Shwartzman fifth with 169.

PREMA are the new Teams’ Champions, finishing first with 382 points, ahead of UNI-Virtuosi on 342.5 and Hitech Grand Prix on 281. Carlin are fourth with 241 and ART Grand Prix fifth on 201.