Tsunoda handed win by penalty for Mazepin on victory lap

Formula 2

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Yuki Tsunoda scored his first Formula 2 feature race win after finishing second on the road behind Nikita Mazepin.

The Hitech driver, who was already under investigation for a separate incident, was given a five-second time penalty for forcing Tsunoda off the track at Les Combes while the pair were disputing the lead.

The start of the race followed a minute of silence for the late Anthoine Hubert, involving his family members, Juan Manuel Correa and drivers and personnel from the F1 paddock as well as the F2 grid.

Honda junior Tsunoda started from pole, sharing the front row with Mazepin, who was making his first-ever front row start. Nobuharu Matsushita and Robert Shwartzman lined up behind them.

Tsunoda made an incredible start, leaving his rivals a second behind within half a lap. Matsushita managed to pass Mazepin for second in a very bold move, the two going into Eau Rouge side-by-side, while Shwartzman was jumped by team mate Mick Schumacher and Louis Deletraz.

By lap four Matsushita’s tyres were beginning to fade and he dropped back from Mazepin. MP Motorsport team mate Felipe Drugovich tried to take advantage but the pair clashed at Blanchimont. Matsushita suffered a big hit but was thankfully unharmed. Drugovich was forced to pit for a new front wing and the Virtual Safety Car was deployed, which meant no drivers could pit for tyres even once the six-lap pit window opened.

At the restart, Tsunoda held the lead and the drivers which had started on soft tyres began the game of pit-chicken for when to move to mediums. Matsushita had severe degradation by lap three but no drivers actually came in to the pits before Schumacher and Mazepin on lap 10.

Tsunoda was able to draw out a more than three-second lead over Mazepin, which meant after Schumacher and Mazepin pitted he had a nine-and-a-half second gap to Zhou, on mediums.

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Tsunoda came in on lap 11th for what turned out to be a slow pit stop, putting him back out in 13th place, behind Mazepin. The Hitech driver also had problems in the pits, prompting the stewards to announce a post-race investigation for an unsafe release – a decision which promised to have ramifications for the outcome.

By the time the others had pitted, Mazepin led Tsunoda, Schumacher, Deletraz and Shwartzman. Dan Ticktum, who’d started 14th after missing practice due to an inconclusive Covid-19 test, had made his way steadily up the field to lead the pack behind them, five seconds back from Shwartzman.

In the final laps, Roy Nissany – having an exceptionally good race, after only scoring a point once previously in F2 – made a pass on Luca Ghiotto for eighth to take reverse-grid pole for the sprint race.

Tsunoda closed in on Mazepin and the pair repeatedly went side-by-side into Les Combes. On the penultimate lap Tsunoda nosed ahead into the braking zone but Mazepin clung to the racing line, forcing his rival off. He stayed ahead to the finish, Tsunoda breathing down his neck, and Schumacher further back in third.

However during the victory lap the stewards handed Mazepin a five-second time penalty for the incident with Tsunoda in their battle at Les Combes. That promoted Tsunoda to first place, though Schumacher was far enough behind that Mazepin retained second.

Championship leader Callum Ilott had had another difficult weekend, starting 12th and finishing 10th for a single point to narrowly retain his lead. Shwartzman’s fifth place finish leaves him only nine points behind Ilott.

Tsunoda, who dedicated his second win of the year to Hubert, is now just two points behind Shwartzman in the standings.

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    Hazel Southwell
    Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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    14 comments on “Tsunoda handed win by penalty for Mazepin on victory lap”

    1. With Hungary’s and Spa’s robbery race direction is making good friends. And what about Samaia’s car? Cars are finishing the lap, track isn’t safe yet and no SC/VSC. For not metioning the punctures incident in F3. Pretty incompetent.

      1. What? The car was in the pits and the opening was closed by the time Tsunoda came to brake for the Bus Stop. Would you rather an unnecessary VSC on lap1?
        And what ‘good friends’ are you insinuating? That race control favours Honda/Red Bull? Why would they?

    2. What was Matsushita doing there with Drugovich? Also Mazepin’s post race interview didnt paint him in good light, he needs to calm down also he is still under 2nd investigation.

    3. What was Matsushita proving by driving over the front wing of Drugovich?

    4. Big fan of Tsunoda but that penalty was a joke. So you can now put yourself in a position that’s impossible to overtake and get the place handed to you.

    5. That was good defending, I don’t get why every other move Mazepin did on Tsunoda was illegal if that one was.

    6. Great race, but the controversial stewarding left a very bad aftertaste.

      1. One or twice it could be controversial. But when it’s every single race it’s obvious, stewards are selling places and decisions right and left.

    7. I think Tsunoda was far enough along side that he should have been given room, however, I would have leaned towards racing incident.

      I do feel like the unsafe release should have been a penalty though, he was unnecessarily putting people in danger. The marker board incident was stupid as well.

      It was a good race though given the circumstances, with the minute silence for Hubert very emotional.

    8. All that race people were overtaking throughout that corner on the outside and the driver on the inside always yielded, as if they held the line they’d either crash or force the other driver off. So I think Mazepin was probably a little unfair on Tsunoda. Kinda understand Mazepin’s frustration, but his little rage at in the interview was a bit sour.

      1. Drivers like Marzipan and Tickedoff will never get to F1. Unless daddy buys a team. Both are temperamental, spoiled brats. Hot temper. These kind of drivers don’t belong in million dollar machines of F1. They can’t represent the team or sponsors well.

        Marzipan can pout all he wants like a baby in F2 but that’s as far as he goes. He may a future in NASCAR.

    9. I have to admit I’m pleased with Mick’s development this season. 4th in the standings, could earn a f1 drive on merit

    10. Why the hate for penalising a driver who refuses to go 2 wide through a corner?
      We’ve seen that move plenty of times before, and sometimes it’s a pass and sometimes the driver in Mazepin’s position keeps 2 wide to the next corner and holds it but when you have a car next to you good racing means leaving room and taking the fight to the next corner.
      His excuse that he did nothing different to normal is laughable: the situation was different so taking your normal line when there’s another car on it is not “normal”.
      If stewards clamp down on this selfish crap we can watch a sport where the competitors respect each other, this isn’t a penalty for the sake of a penalty.

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