Mick Schumacher snatched a thrilling Russian Feature Race victory to extend his championship lead over Callum Ilott to 18 points.
Yuki Tsunoda led from pole with Schumacher leapfrogging Jehan Daruvala into second, as the Safety Car was deployed following a Turn Two collision which eliminated Juri Vips and championship contender, Christian Lundgaard.
Once the Safety Car pitted at end of lap two, Schumacher kept Tsunoda under pressure until end of lap eight when the pair plus Ilott pitted from the top three positions after Daruvala pitted at end of lap six.
Tsunoda quickly began reeling off those on the alternative strategy but struggled to find his way past Artem Markelov which allowed Schumacher to close in, ultimately taking the lead and victory on lap 19 with a switchback move out of Turn Two after Tsunoda ran deep.
Ilott soon followed through and reeled in Schumacher to within 1.2 seconds before falling away as Tsunoda fought back to claim second, ahead of the Brit who fended off Ghiotto on the final lap for third by just 0.025s.
Ghiotto, Daruvala, Jack Aitken, Nikita Mazepin, Guanyu Zhou, Marcus Armstrong and Dan Ticktum round out the top ten, with Ticktum snatching the point for fastest lap out of the top ten right at the end with a 1m 51.700 lap time, despite Charouz’s Louis Deletraz setting the overall fastest lap time of a 1m 51.009 on same lap.
In terms of the Championship standings, Schumacher now leads Ilott by 18 points as Tsunoda climbed up two positions to fourth behind Lundgaard by virtue of one second-placed finish to the Dane’s three runner-ups finishes.
Shwartzman drops to fifth and 46 points off Schumacher after failing to score points by virtue of a 11th placed finish whilst Nikita Mazepin is now five points behind his compatriot in sixth.
Tsunoda made a clean getaway to lead Schumacher as those starting on the dirty side getting bogged down, which allowed Aitken to climb to fifth as Daruvala fended off Ilott for third, whilst Shwartzman slipped to ninth after running wide and through the Turn Two bollards.
Further back, Vips hit Pedro Piquet who unintentionally steered into Lundgaard to cause race ending damage for the Danish driver and a brief Safety Car period, whilst Felipe Drugovich and Roy Nissany retired in the pits with damage despite changes of front wing.
Once the Safety Car pitted at end of lap two, Schumacher constantly applied pressure on Tsunoda for the following four laps until his super soft tyres began to fade, with the duo both pitting at end of lap eight alongside Ilott who had moved up to third after Daruvala stopped two laps earlier and consequently leapfrogged the Indian for net third.
Out in front, Aitken led Mazepin and Zhou on the alternative strategy as all three scrapped for the lead with ART GP’s Marcus Armstrong lurking behind in fourth awaiting a collision which never came, although Zhou forced Mazepin wide at Turn Two on lap 11 to snatch second place and set about chasing Aitken for the lead.
Tsunoda meanwhile had worked his way up to seventh by the end of lap 14 before Aitken sold Zhou the dummy into Turn Two a lap later before reclaiming the lead with great switchback traction out of the corner at Zhou’s expense.
Mazepin snatched second back from Zhou on exit of Turn Four a lap later when the Chinese driver hit the pit limiter which cost him speed and allowed the Hitech GP driver through.
Aitken then made his stop at end of the following lap with his fellow alternate strategy drivers pitting at end of lap 18 which allowed Tsunoda back into the lead, albeit briefly because he had been stuck behind Markelov which allowed Schumacher to get back onto the Carlin’s rear at the start of lap 19.
Tsunoda went for the racing line into Turn Two which forced Schumacher to the outside line but the Japanese driver ran deep, allowing Schumacher to get the switchback and dive up Tsunoda’s right hand side and breeze into the lead.
Ilott soon demoted Tsunoda to third with a late braking move into Turn 13 later on that same lap and managed to get to within 1.2s of Schumacher before his tyres hit the cliff, sealing victory for his title rival as Tsunoda eventually reclaimed second with a similar move into Turn 13 on lap 27 to the one that Ilott had pulled on him eight laps earlier.
Schumacher eventually won from Tsunoda by 6.358s whilst Ilott rounded out the podium after surviving a last lap charge from Ghiotto by 0.025s on the line despite falling 18 points behind Schumacher in the title race.
Further back, Shwartzman struggled with his mediums after falling foul of a rear tyre issue during his pit stop as Prema double-stacked on lap nine and eventually was overhauled by Zhou, Mazepin and Armstrong before Ticktum recovered from 17th on grid to deny the Russian a point at his home Feature Race.
Finally, Jake Hughes enjoyed a strong Feature Race result on his debut with a 12th placed finish and finished 14.572s ahead of HWA Racelab teammate, Artem Markelov who only managed 15th at the flag.
Feature Race Result
|1||Mick Schumacher||Prema||28||55m 02.871|
|2||Yuki Tsunoda||Carlin||28||+ 6.358|
|3||Callum Ilott||UNI-Virtuosi||28||+ 9.482|
|4||Luca Ghiotto||Hitech GP||28||+ 9.507|
|5||Jehan Daruvala||Carlin||28||+ 15.225|
|6||Jack Aitken||Campos||28||+ 22.183|
|7||Nikita Mazepin||Hitech GP||28||+ 23.129|
|8||Guanyu Zhou||UNI-Virtuosi||28||+ 25.392|
|9||Marcus Armstrong||ART GP||28||+ 26.940|
|10||Dan Ticktum||DAMS||28||+ 29.525|
|11||Robert Shwartzman||Prema||28||+ 35.582|
|12||Jake Hughes||HWA Racelab||28||+ 37.535|
|13||Marino Sato||Trident||28||+ 46.326|
|14||Giuliano Alesi||MP Motorsport||28||+ 48.045|
|15||Artem Markelov||HWA Racelab||28||+ 52.107|
|16||Guilherme Samaia||Campos||28||+ 1m 07.006|
|17||Pedro Piquet||Charouz||28||+ 1m 08.704|
|18||Louis Deletraz||Charouz||28||+ 1m19.307|
|20||Felipe Drugovich||MP Motorsport||1||Damage|
|21||Christian Lundgaard||ART GP||0||Collision|