Guanyu Zhou stormed to victory in Abu Dhabi and claimed his fourth win of the season for UNI-Virtuosi.
Zhou controlled proceedings in the second half of the race after an unfortunate retirement for New Zealander Marcus Armstrong.
Robert Shwartzman and Ralph Boschung rounded off the podium in the second race of the day at Yas Marina.
Armstrong did a great start from pole position and kept the lead into Turn 1 as Boschung stayed in second place.
Formula 2’s newly crowned champion Oscar Piastri made light contact with Liam Lawson at Turn 5 but both drivers were able to continue. The Australian was later given 5 seconds time penalty for forcing his rival off the track.
Piastri initially made a great start and moved into P7 but dropped back to P13 at the end of the first lap.
All 22 drivers left no stone unturned in the opening laps with nothing to lose in the second race of the weekend.
Shwartzman dived up the inside of Dan Ticktum into Turn 6 to move up to P4 in a classic late braking move.
Zhou also got past Boschung to move up to second place in his penultimate F2 event before moving to Formula 1.
Alessio Deledda stopped on track and retired after contact with Olli Caldwell at Turn 9 which required the Safety Car to be deployed on Lap 5.
Armstrong kept calm amongst all the chaos of the opening stages holding the lead ahead of UNI-Virtuosi driver Zhou and Boschung. Piastri languished down in P13 after a clumsy opening lap.
The Safety Car came in on Lap 6 which allowed Armstrong to pull away from Zhou and the chasing pack with 16 laps to go.
Piastri made an audacious double overtake at Turn 6 on Jüri Vips and Roy Nissany just after the Safety Car restart. At the newly revamped Turn 9 the trio made contact which eliminated Piastri and Estonian driver Vips.
Bernd Mayländer was called up into action for the second time in the race while Vips’ and Piastri’s cars were cleared away.
Armstrong pulled off the track from the race lead shortly after the Safety Car pulled into the pits due to a mechanical issue. Zhou inherited the lead for UNI-Virtuosi, he had both cars in the points with Felipe Drugovich running in P6.
The Virtual Safety Car was deployed to clear away the DAMS car with 11 laps to go.
Shwartzman came at the restart sweeping past Boschung and set off after Zhou in the lead.
Zhou built up a small advantage over his nearest challenger Shwartzman who became the sole PREMA in the race after Piastri’s retirement.
Australian driver Jack Doohan enjoyed a terrific performance for MP Motorsport and overtook Nissany for ninth place in his second F2 race.
Drugovich drove clean around the outside of Sprint Race 1 winner Jehan Daruvala at the banked Turn 9 for P5 in a brilliant move.
With five laps to go of the race Christian Lundgaard suffered from a puncture on his ART which ruined the French drivers hopes of a good result.
Zhou continued to lead up front, enjoying a slim advantage of Shwartzman. The pair were multiple seconds ahead of Boschung and Ticktum in their battle for third.
Lawson got past Daruvala on the way to Turn 9 and snatched P6 from the Indian driver.
In the closing laps of the race Zhou began to stretch his advantage over Shwartzman with both of them composed towards the end of the race.
Drugovich kept his charge through the field and closed up to Ticktum on the last lap but couldn’t get past the British driver. He defended robustly and reaped the rewards with a solid fourth place finish.
Piastri will begin tomorrow’s Feature Race from pole position.
SPRINT RACE 02
Image credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd