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Piastri wins breathtaking race while Zendeli and Vips suffer heartbreak

Oscar Piastri of Australia and Prema Racing celebrates in parc ferme during Sprint Race 2 of Round 1:Sakhir of the Formula 2 Championship at Bahrain International Circuit on March 27, 2021 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images)

Australian driver Oscar Piastri is the smiling winner of Formula 2’s second Sprint race of 2021. The Prema racer benefitted from drama for front-runners Zendeli and Vips, winning the race after a late move on Zhou.

The race began with a bang when Prema driver Robert Shwartzman spun Carlin’s Dan Ticktum around into the first corner. Front-runners Jüri Vips and Lirim Zendeli had a good start with the pole-sitter leading ahead of the MP Motorsport driver. That stayed for some time as the British-Green-coloured Aston Martin Safety Car led the field until the racing was resumed on lap 4.

Dan Ticktum ironically described his DNF as “Marvellous, absolutely marvellous” on the radio, while Vips continued to build-up his lead. MP Motorsport driver Lirim Zendeli suffered heartbreak in the meantime, as he got overtaken by one car after another. One of them was UNI-Virtuosi pilot Guanyu Zhou who started to chase Vips and overtook him for P1 on lap 5. Zendeli suffered even more heartbreak after a collision with ART’s Christian Lundgaard created a rear-right puncture for the German driver. The 21-year-old limped into the pits, Lundgaard got a 10-second time penalty for the collision.

Zhou continued to lead the field ahead of Vips and Liam Lawson while the battles in the midfield started to erupt. Rookie Théo Pourchaire temporarily set the fastest lap on lap 8, in which he went 2 seconds faster than the quickest time of Sprint race 1. The Frenchman fought for P7 with Bent Viscaal and Marcus Armstrong. At the half-way mark of the race on lap 13, Zhou still led the drivers, with Vips, Lawson and Drugovich.

The drama continued under the floodlights of the Bahrain International Circuit. The order got mixed-up again after Christian Lundgaard went for a move against Drugovich and Lawson. Getting it done, the Dane moved up into third place, but Drugovich clipped the back of Liam Lawson and spun him, as he tried to copy Lundgaard’s move. Lawson’s race was over, the Safety Car was out again and Felipe Drugovich got a 10-second penalty for causing a collision. The Safety Car period led to a busy pit lane with multiple drivers stopping for fresh rubber.

After the Aston Martin SC returned to the pits, the wild overtaking restarted. Zhou kept his lead over Vips and Oscar Piastri, who moved up into P3. Though the racing again got interrupted on lap 20 when HWA driver Alessio Deledda stopped on track and caused a Virtual Safety Car. Resuming the scene on lap 21 opened the fight for the win, which was quickly lost for Jüri Vips. The Estonian driver suffered a mechanical problem and dropped the order. Even more heartbreak visited Vips, when he later got penalized for a Virtual Safety Car infringement.

Piastri now started to chase UNI-Virtuosi driver Guanyu Zhou for the victory and overtook the Chinese on the penultimate lap, holding him off to win his first Formula 2 race. The Australian described the race as the “Craziest win [he] ever had in [his] life” and also said, “If you don’t love F2, I think you do now”. Definitely, this race was one to love, with Piastri winning ahead of Zhou and Lundgaard. But the Alpine-junior Top three got destroyed due to Lundgaard’s earlier penalty, demoting the Dane to P9. Jehan Darulava surely loved the race as well, as the penalty of Lundgaard brought him a podium, as the Indian finished in third place.

More Formula 2 action awaits us tomorrow, with the first Feature race of the season starting in Bahrain.

The top 10 of the Formula 2 Bahrain GP Sprint race 2:

1Oscar PiastriPrema Racing46:19.610
2Guanyu ZhouUNI-Virtuosi+2.076
3Jehan DaruvalaCarlin+2.494
4Richard VerschoorMP Motorsport+2.966
5Théo PourchaireART Grand Prix+3.759
6David BeckmannCharouz Racing System+6.387
7Marino SatoTrident+8.096
8Matteo NanniniHWA Racelab+9.733
9Christian LundgaardART Grand Prix+10.774
10Marcus ArmstrongDAMS+12.180
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