Nikita Mazepin overcame a dramatic finish to clinch victory in the Tuscan Feature Race in a Hitech GP one-two finish ahead of Luca Ghiotto, as Mick Schumacher claimed the championship lead.
Christian Lundgaard led from pole and looked destined for victory until Giuliano Alesi triggered a safety car on lap 24, of which he mastered the initial restart three laps later but collisions involving Dan Ticktum and Guanyu Zhou amongst others further behind caused the safety car to be called out once again.
Lundgaard on fading hard tyres however was unable to hold the chasing pack behind him on the final restart as Mazepin who started from 14th on the grid passed him and Ghiotto for the lead.
Mazepin soon raced away to his second win of the season as Ghiotto held off Louis Deletraz for third whilst Felipe Drugovich, Schumacher, Lundgaard, Juri Vips, Artem Markelov, Marcus Armstrong and Jehan Daruvala completed the top ten finishers after Yuki Tsunoda was penalised five second for causing a collision with Ticktum.
Speaking post-race on his dramatic victory as Hitech GP clinched an one-two finish, Mazepin said; “To win the Feature Race, the main race, with my teammate in second place, which makes it a double for Hitech, is a dream come true. We could not have even dreamed of this the night before.”
In terms of the drivers’ standings, Schumacher leads Ilott by four points as Shwartzman remains third despite retiring with a technical issue, whilst Mazepin closes the gap to fourth placed Lundgaard to a single point.
Lundgaard made a clean getaway to lead Ticktum as Ilott got bogged down with wheelspin to send him sliding to seventh whilst fellow title rivals, Shwartzman slipped to 12th just ahead of Schumacher who had improved to 13th from 15th on the grid.
Armstrong had benefitted from Ilott’s slow start to rise to fourth but was demoted to fifth by Drugovich into San Donato on lap four, with Ilott making a similar move on Jack Aitken just behind the duo.
Up front, Ticktum kept the gap to Lundgaard down to around a second and had begun to reel the Danish Renault junior in come the end of lap seven when Lundgaard pitted, unleashing Ticktum who found himself fending from Ghiotto who was also on the same strategy.
Ghiotto however found his way past the DAMS driver into San Donato at the start of the following lap as both drivers soon proceeded to pit at the end of that lap, with Ticktum leapfrogging Ghiotto during their stops as Ilott took the lead before stopping himself one lap later.
Lundgaard however executed the undercut prime strategy to retain his lead from Ilott who briefly battled Ticktum upon exiting the pit before conceding position, with Ghiotto following through a lap later before the Italian then got then net second place off Ticktum.
The quartet soon found themselves battling those on the alternative strategy with Lundgaard, Ghiotto and Ticktum quickly clearing slower cars although Ilott lost time when stuck behind Nissany in fifth on lap 21, which allowed Tsunoda to close in and breeze past the Brit into San Donato on lap 22 as Nissany pitted at the end of the previous lap.
Shwartzman retired on lap 18 with a technical issue but four laps later once Mazepin had pitted for softs, Giuliano Alesi’s engine failed and the Frenchman retired at Luco, which was initially covered by a Virtual Safety Car until a crane was required on lap 24 to lift his HWA Racelab behind the barrier thus causing the first Safety Car period.
Racing resumed on lap 27 as Tsunoda took inside line through San Donato but tapped Ticktum’s right-rear to trigger mayhem whilst Schumacher escaped unscathed from a collision involving Guanyu Zhou and Aitken, in which the Chinese driver somehow clipped Aitken to send his Campos momentarily airborne as the latter two retired on the spot with race-ending damage to trigger a second Safety Car.
Ilott meanwhile picked up unseen damage and consequently pitted for new tyres and front wing which dropped him to the back and ultimately conceded the championship lead.
Lundgaard had tightened the pack up on the initial restart but Mazepin who was on fresher soft tyres compared to his and Ghiotto’s hard tyres was alert on the second restart on lap 31, as the Russian made his pace advantage instantly count as he took both Ghiotto and Lundgaard into San Donato for the lead with the Italian retaining second as Lundgaard dropped to third.
Schumacher had lost sixth on the restart to Tsunoda but soon passed the Japanese driver for sixth before eventually finishing fifth to take the championship lead by four points, as Lundgaard fell to sixth at the flag with Deletraz just pipping Drugovich to the podium.
Vips finished seventh and will start the Sprint Race from second with HWA Racelab’s Artem Markelov on pole after the Russian, Armstrong and Daruvala rounded out the top ten as they benefitted from Tsunoda receiving a five second time penalty for his collision with Ticktum to drop the Red Bull junior from eighth to 16th at the flag.
Ilott meanwhile recovered to finish 12th and just 1.084 seconds off Daruvala who claimed the final point once Tsunoda’s penalty was applied.
Feature Race Result
|1||Nikita Mazepin||Hitech GP||33||59m 22.869|
|2||Lucca Ghiotto||Hitech GP||33||+ 4.460|
|3||Louis Deletraz||Charouz||33||+ 4.519|
|4||Felipe Drugovich||MP Motorsport||33||+ 4.860|
|5||Mick Schumacher||Prema||33||+ 5.374|
|6||Christian Lundgaard||ART GP||33||+ 7.825|
|7||Juri Vips||DAMS||33||+ 8.353|
|8||Artem Markelov||HWA Racelab||33||+ 10.172|
|9||Marcus Armstrong||ART GP||33||+ 10.434|
|10||Jehan Daruvala||Carlin||33||+ 10.663|
|11||Nobuharu Matsushita||MP Motorsport||33||+ 11.100|
|12||Callum Ilott||UNI-Virtuosi||33||+ 11.747|
|13||Pedro Piquet||Charouz||33||+ 11.757|
|14||Marino Sato||Trident||33||+ 12.428|
|15||Roy Nissany||Trident||33||+ 13.588|
|16||Yuki Tsunoda||Carlin||33||+ 14.112|
|17||Dan Ticktum||DAMS||33||+ 15.959|
|18||Guilherme Samaia||Campos||33||+ 52.196|
|21||Giuliano Alesi||HWA Racelab||21||Engine|