Alpine Academy drivers Guanyu Zhou and Oscar Piastri took a race win each as the FIA Formula 2 Championship returned in Bahrain at the weekend for the season opening triple header.

Alpine Academy drivers Guanyu Zhou and Oscar Piastri took a race win each as the FIA Formula 2 Championship returned in Bahrain at the weekend for the season opening triple header.

In a thrilling Race 2 Sprint Race, Oscar led home an Alpine 1-2-3 with Christian Lundgaard second and Zhou third in an enthralling battle on the last lap under the lights. And, to follow up that result, in Sunday’s blue riband Feature Race, Zhou claimed his first ever Formula 2 Feature Race win with a tyre management masterclass.

Zhou leads the championship on 41 points with Oscar fourth and Christian seventh.

In Summary

Zhou took a sensational pole position in Friday’s Qualifying session, pipping Christian by 0.003secs. Oscar, on debut, was slightly adrift in seventh place.

Race 1 (Sprint Race)
The top 10 reversed grid saw Zhou and Christian line up in tenth and ninth, respectively, with Oscar fourth. All three drivers drove a sensible race knowing the top 10 result was reversed for the evening’s second Sprint Race. Zhou finishing seventh, Christian sixth and Oscar fifth.

Race 2 (Sprint Race)
Oscar lined up in sixth, Christian fifth and Zhou fourth on the grid. In an up and down contest, Zhou claimed an early lead on Option tyres, controlling his advantage well. Christian and Oscar, on Primes, battled hard before Christian was handed a 10-second penalty for a collision with Lirim Zendeli. A Safety Car seven laps from the end meant Christian and Oscar could pit for fresh Option tyres, giving them an advantage over Zhou who was on his used Option tyres having not pitted from the lead. Christian took his 10-second penalty in the pit-stop.

Soon, both Oscar and Christian were catching Zhou for the lead with all three locked in a wheel-to-wheel fight for the win. On the final lap, Oscar passed Zhou into Turn 1 with Christian passing them both at the apex before running wide out of Turn 2 to hand Oscar the advantage. At the line, Oscar was narrowly ahead of Christian with Zhou third.

Race 3 (Feature Race)
From pole position, Zhou opted for the Prime/Option strategy as opposed to the Option/Prime runners. At the start, Zhou lost positions as a result of being on the harder compound tyre with Christian leading the first 12 laps. Oscar soon caught Christian for the lead after the mandatory pit-stop midway through the race. A Safety Car handed the advantage to Zhou and the other drivers who had not yet pitted on lap 17. From there, Zhou was able to reassert his control in the lead. Christian lost places at the restart with Oscar in the mix for the podium before a collision at Turn 1, two laps from the end, halted his chances. Zhou crossed the line for the victory with Christian outside the points.

Guanyu Zhou: “I’m very happy with my first race weekend of the new season. I think we adapted well to the new race formats and delivered when needed. I started the weekend by putting the car on pole in qualifying and I think we could have won two races in total. I felt like we were very unlucky in Race Two as we were leading the race until the Safety Car came out. Then the last race I had strong pace all the way through and went with the Prime/Option strategy and we took the race win. I’m really happy to leave Bahrain leading the championship.”

Christian Lundgaard: “It was a bit of a rollercoaster for us. We had strong pace in Race 1 and 2 but it seemed to turn upside down for the Feature Race. I think coming home with some decent Sprint Race results is a good way to start the season for us, and I am quite confident I have good pace with the team this year. We will be stronger in the upcoming tracks, so I am looking forward to getting going again.”

Oscar Piastri: “Overall a very positive start to the year and I am happy with my first Formula 2 weekend. The win in Race 2 was amazing and probably one of my best wins I’ve had in my career to date. It was obviously disappointing to end my weekend on the note it did in Race 3, nonetheless there were a lot of positives to take from the weekend and we showed we are potential title contenders. I am looking forward to the rest of the season and hopefully there are more wins to come.”

2021 FIA Formula 2 Drivers’ Standings
P1. Guanyu Zhou 41pts
P4. Oscar Piastri 21pts
P7. Christian Lundgaard 16pts