Hitech GP’s Nikita Mazepin clinched a maiden F2 victory ahead of Guanyu Zhou in a British Feature Race dominated by tyre strategies.
Saturday’s race got off to a nightmare start when Callum Ilott stalled his car at the start of the formation lap before pole-sitter, Felipe Drugovich got a nightmare start to allow Mick Schumacher to take the early lead ahead of Mazepin.
Mazepin soon reeled in Schumacher before passing him round the outside of Stowe towards the end of lap three, from which he went on to take a dominant victory once the pit stop strategies played out.
Speaking post-race on his victory, Mazepin said; “I am extremely happy because it really feels like a nice string of progression and I am very chuffed for the team.
“They gave me a fantastic car, which helped me to look after those tyres, and make them last the race on a difficult track like Silverstone where tyres are an issue.”
Zhou meanwhile executed a brilliant alternate strategy of starting on mediums until lap 22 when he pitted from the lead, dropping to eighth from where he unleashed a rapid charge to take second place.
Christian Lundgaard struggled towards the end on his hard tyres, allowing Yuki Tsunoda to snatch the final podium spot ahead of him as Ilott, Louis Deletraz, Drugovich, Dan Ticktum, Schumacher and Nobuharu Matsushita rounded out the top ten.
Robert Shwartzman meanwhile had a disastrous day as he could only manage a 14th placed finish, although he still holds the championship lead as Ilott could only cut his deficit down to eight points.
Ilott stalled from second position on the formation lap and had to be wheeled back into the pit lane, where he eventually made a solid start to find himself up into 14th position by lap five.
Up at front, Drugovich opted for the alternative strategy but made a poor start, allowing Schumacher to leap from third to first ahead of Mazepin and Lundgaard as Drugovich clung onto fourth.
Schumacher’s pace on the mediums soon begun to slip as Mazepin reeled him in and snatched the lead with a sweeping move around the outside of Stowe on lap three and quickly stretched his lead out of DRS range.Embed from Getty Images
Behind the frontrunners, Jack Aitken fended off Tsunoda and Zhou for fifth but his hard tyres soon began to wear as Zhou cleared Tsunoda at The Loop on lap seven, before passing Aitken with DRS on the Wellington Straight a lap later.
An early flurry of stops lured Mazepin and Schumacher into ditching their medium tyres at end of lap eight, whilst Lundgaard tried the overcut by stopping a lap later which almost worked as he came out behind Mazepin and just ahead of Schumacher.
Schumacher however had the warmer tyres and quickly passed Lundgaard up the inside into The Loop.Embed from Getty Images
Traffic however soon played a factor for the net race leaders as Mazepin quickly cleared slower cars on the alternative strategy, whereas Schumacher and Lundgaard lost seven seconds in their efforts.
Drugovich meanwhile was on the alternative strategy and led the race until Zhou snatched the lead on lap 18, just before Drugovich pitted at end of that lap from which he fought back to seventh.
Zhou and Aitken managed to make their hard tyres last until they pitted at start of lap 22 from the lead, ultimately conceding the lead and win to Mazepin as Zhou then took Ilott and Jehan Daruvala for sixth within four corners on lap 23.Embed from Getty Images
Schumacher’s hard tyres meanwhile were falling away as Deletraz and Tsunoda quickly passed him, only for Zhou to catch and pass Schumacher plus Tsunoda on lap 24 before taking Deletraz for third into Abbey at the start of lap 25.
Lundgaard would eventually fall foul of Zhou’s pace as the Renault Reserve passed his Renault Academy teammate two laps later up the inside of Stowe to take second.
Tsunoda however then demote Lundgaard off the podium on the last lap as Ilott completed a stunning comeback to finish fifth, ahead of Deletraz and Drugovich.
Dan Ticktum looked set for a ninth placed finish after battling Jehan Daruvala but Schumacher’s pace soon collapsed, allowing Ticktum to snatch eighth and reverse pole whilst Matsushita rounded out the points with a last lap effort.
Aitken eventually finished 13th and the only Brit to fail to score points in this opening Silverstone race, with Ilott and Ticktum both finishing in the top ten.
|1||Nikita Mazepin||Hitech GP||29||51m 17.953|
|2||Guanyu Zhou||Uni-Virtuosi||29||+ 5.323|
|3||Yuki Tsunoda||Carlin||29||+ 7.406|
|4||Christian Lundgaard||ART GP||29||+ 8.094|
|5||Callum Ilott||Uni-Virtuosi||29||+ 10.764|
|6||Louis Deletraz||Charouz||29||+ 16.121|
|7||Felipe Drugovich||MP Motorsport||29||+ 18.136|
|8||Dan Ticktum||DAMS||29||+ 20.580|
|9||Mick Schumacher||Prema||29||+ 24.742|
|10||Nobuharu Matsushita||MP Motorsport||29||+ 25.319|
|11||Pedro Piquet||Charouz||29||+ 26.230|
|12||Jehan Daruvala||Carlin||29||+ 26.527|
|13||Jack Aitken||Campos||29||+ 26.744|
|14||Robert Shwartzman||Prema||29||+ 30.767|
|15||Sean Gelael||DAMS||29||+ 31.585|
|16||Marcus Armstrong||ART GP||29||+ 37.827|
|17||Luca Ghiotto||Hitech GP||29||+ 45.263|
|18||Artem Markelov||HWA Racelab||29||+ 53.528|
|19||Giuliano Alesi||HWA Racelab||29||+ 1m 00.579|
|20||Marino Sato||Trident||29||+ 1m 12.128|
|21||Guilherme Samaia||Campos||29||+ 1m 27.775|