Guanyu Zhou put himself firmly back in the FIA Formula 2 Championship title race after taking a commanding victory in the Feature Race at Silverstone to close the gap between him and championship leader Oscar Piastri.
The UNI-Virtuosi driver who endured a nightmare Saturday drove a perfect race after beating Piastri into Turn 1 after an excellent start from second on the grid.
It was an all-Alpine Academy front row with championship leader Piastri on pole alongside Zhou with Richard Verschoor, an excellent third for MP Motorsport.
Carlin’s Dan Ticktum would start fourth ahead of Theo Pourchaire and Felipe Drugovich, whilst Sprint Race 1 winner Robert Shwartzman would start seventh.
Alessio Deledda came into the pits at the end of the formation lap, with the Italian starting from the pitlane.
At the greenlight, Piastri made a poor getaway and lost P1 to Zhou into Turn 1, with the Chinese driver making a great start to the lead the field into Brooklands.
Ticktum went wheel-to-wheel with Verschoor for third place, with the Carlin driver going around the outside of the Dutchman into Brooklands to take the position.
Christian Lundgaard started to make up ground through the field, with the Dane moving up from 10th to 7th in the opening three laps of the race, as Lundgaard tried to salvage his weekend.
Up at the front, Zhou, with a clear track in front of him, set two consecutive fastest laps of the race as the Chinese driver began to extend his lead on Piastri.
Ticktum and Shwartzman were the first drivers to pit for fresh tyres, with the Brit and the Russian pitting on Lap 6. There was no drama for Ticktum, but Shwartzman just missed hitting David Beckmann as he exited his pit box.
Next to pit was Piastri from second place, with the PREMA driver getting out in front of Ticktum. However, the Brit made full use of his warmer tyres to ease past Piastri into Brooklands.
Lundgaard also pitted on Lap 8, but the Dane’s rear left wheel bounced off as he exited the ART pit box resulting in a 10-second penalty for an unsafe release.
Race leader Zhou pitted on Lap 9, with the Chinese driver comfortably emerging in front of Ticktum in the net race lead.
Next to pit was Drugovich and Pourchaire, with the Brazilian getting out in front of the Frenchman for net fifth place.
Verschoor’s reign as race leader came to an end on Lap 12, but a slow stop from the MP crew saw him drop to 10th and behind Ticktum.
Like Lundgaard, Beckmann also faced the wrath of the stewards after the German received a five-second penalty for an unsafe release.
Ticktum lost time after being stuck behind the Trident of Marino Sato, with the Japanese driver letting both Ticktum and Piastri through into The Loop as they continued their fight for net race second place.
At the halfway distance, Jüri Vips led Lirim Zendeli and Jehan Daruvala; however, all three had yet to stop for tyres, with Vips still happy with his pace up at the front.
Hitech hat Vips pit on Lap 18 from the lead, with the Estonian coming out ahead of his team mate Liam Lawson in 11th, who was engaged in a race-long battle with the DAMS pair of Roy Nissany and Marcus Armstrong for P12.
Zendeli finally pitted from the race lead on Lap 21, with Daruvala inheriting the lead as the Indian stayed out, hoping that a late safety car would help him secure his second Formula 2 race win.
Although Ticktum made short work of overtaking Matteo Nannini, Piastri was struggling to get past the Campos. The Australian locking up his brakes in his efforts to pass the Italian who had yet to stop.
Daruvala finally had to pit from the race lead on Lap 24, with the Carlin driver getting out in front of Zendeli before the German repassed him into The Loop for 10th thanks to warmer tyres.
Piastri finally got past Nannini on Lap 24, when the Italian finally pitted for his mandatory stop and dropping down to 19th place and out of the points.
Nissany’s already tough race was further compromised after the DAMS driver did a full 720-degree spin on the exit of Chapel, dropping him to 16th place.
Daruvala’s stop meant Zhou was finally back into the lead, with Ticktum second ahead of Piastri, who was being harried by Verschoor as the Dutchman chased his second Formula 2 podium.
Verschoor then tried and failed to get past the Australian on the exit of Club, albeit with Piastri having to cut the corner to hold onto third.
But nothing could stop Zhou, who took a commanding Feature Race win. The Virtuosi driver put himself back in the championship race with Ticktum finishing an excellent second ahead of Piastri who just hung on for third ahead of Verschoor.
Shwartzman capped off a good weekend’s work with fifth ahead of Drugovich and Vips, with Pourchaire, Zendeli and Daruvala rounding off the top 10.
Image Credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd