Prema’s Robert Shwartzman dominated the first Formula 2 sprint race, as title contender Oscar Piastri retired on lap 1.
It was time for Formula 2 to go racing around the streets of Baku, for the first sprint race. If the last few years are anything to go by, action, and safety cars, are a guarantee. Robert Shwartzman starts on pole, after qualifying 10th yesterday. Second on the grid would be Jehan Daruvala, with Guanyu Zhou third.
The lights went out, and Shwartzman led away. Jack Aitken spun out of turn 1, with Liam Lawson out just one turn later. Alessio DeLedda followed Lawson into retirement at turn 2, and the safety car was out. Oscar Piastri was out of the race too, a potentially massive moment in the championship, where he lies second.
The safety car came in, and Shwartzman judged the restart perfectly, keeping the lead from Daruvala. Feipe Drugovich got a 10 second time penalty for causing a collision, which would hamper his race efforts.
Dan Ticktum made a brilliant move for fifth place, going up the inside from miles behind. He made it to fourth the next lap, looking at home on the streets. Shwartzman too looked happy, as he was over three seconds ahead of Daruvala by lap 10. Zhou took Daruvala to move up to second, as the Indian driver looked to struggle slightly.
Ticktum took Daruvala on lap 11, and the top three were the three fastest men on track. The Brit went up to second the next lap, and set his sights on the lead. He set the fastest lap and wasn’t messing about, but time was beginning to run out. Marino Sato made a pitstop, after trying to roll a strategy dice, but it didn’t work.
The race calmed down, and with five laps left, Shwartzman looked assured of victory. Theo Pourchaire went up to sixth with four laps left, as the race entered its closing stages. The fastest lap point was a battle, that wasn’t settled until the end, but it went to Pourchaire, but it was Shwartzman who won. Second place went to Ticktum, with Zhou third.
The full top 10 are as folows: