Formula 2 Belgian Grand Prix 2020

For round 7 of the Formula 2 calendar, the paddock heads out to Belgium, one year on since the tragic accident that played out a year ago. Drivers race out on the historic track with their hearts in mind.

Qualifying

Before qualifying really begun, Vips had to stop on track, ending his first Formula 2 qualifying session. Sato, Piquet, Daruvala, Aitken, Nissany and Markelov are the only ones to set a flying lap before the red flag since Samaia’s car was on fire and had to stop at the side of the track. Ilott takes the fastest with 16 minutes to go with a 1:58.427, which Shwartzman follows suit behind by 0.140 seconds. Those two didn’t last long as Tsunoda and Schumacher go quicker, with the Japanese taking the provisional with a 1:57.994. With three minutes left to go, Mazepin sets the quickest time with a 1:57.721, but Tsunoda retakes it to pull a 1:57.593.

The grid is as follows:
1. Yuki Tsunoda
2. Nikita Mazepin
3. Nobuharu Matsushita
4. Robert Shwartzman
5. Felipe Drugovich
6. Guanyu Zhou
7. Mick Schumacher
8. Louis Delétraz
9. Jehan Daruvala
10. Luca Ghiotto
11. Pedro Piquet
12. Callum Ilott
13. Marcus Armstrong
14. Dan Ticktum
15. Roy Nissany
16. Marino Sato
17. Jack Aitken
18. Christian Lundgaard
19. Artem Markelov
20. Giuliano Alesi
21. Jüri Vips
22. Guilherme Samaia

Feature Race

Tsunoda keeps the lead, but Mazepin sees a move around the outside into the first corner. As Tsunoda pulls away, Matsushita has an attempt with the Russian driver. Samaia, who started at the back because of a fire in qualifying, stalled on the grid and had to be pushed back into the pitlane. By the top of Radillon corner, Schumacher and Delétraz also were within the fight for 3rd. Shwartzman sends it on Zhou through the Bus Stop Chicane for 6th, whilst Drugovich is being challenged for 8th by Piquet. Daruvala, unfortunately, had to pit at the end of the first lap to retrieve a new front wing after Armstrong clipped the right side of the wing, putting him to the back.

Mazepin moves up the order to second, taking it down the Kemmel straight using the slipstream from Matsushita. Just a lap later, Schumacher overtakes the Japanese driver through the final chicane, whilst Shwartzman does too up through Radillon. Meanwhile, his teammate Drugovich was charging ahead and overtook Zhou, who had now dropped back to 8th. For the championship leader, Ilott was now up two positions to sit in 10th after overtaking Ghiotto. Aitken loses out to Nissany and Armstrong, putting him in 15th.

Matsushita’s tyres were falling as he was now within the grasp of Zhou and his teammate. Zhou gets ahead with ease and so, the two MP drivers come side to side through the final corners of the Belgian circuit. Nobuharu thought he cleared Felipe and goes back to the racing line, but the Brazilian was still in the rear parts of his car. With one car clipping the other’s front wing, Matsushita was sent flying into the barriers since one of his wheels was damaged. Luckily, he jumped out the car within seconds of the car impacting the tyre wall and was deemed fine. Felipe comes in to pit his car to get a new front wing, dropping him to the back of the grid. The virtual safety car was called as they retrieved the broken car.

Come to lap 6, the green flag is pulled. Tsunoda already leads with a 1.8 second gap to Mazepin behind. Ghiotto is the first to pit in the field, coming in to change tyres after starting on the softs. Zhou goes around Shwartzman for 5th and does so, whilst Ilott tries to do the same on Piquet, but runs out of grip and goes off track, so he gives up the place back to him. The Chinese driver is now closing down Delétraz ahead in 4th, sitting 0.5 seconds behind the Swiss driver up through Eau Rouge. Just a few corners later, he takes 4th since he’s on the alternate strategy, whilst Louis falls on the softs.

Ticktum goes around Ilott for 8th with Nissany behind. Just a lap later, he loses it to the Israeli driver. Meanwhile, at the front, Mazepin and Schumacher pit from 2nd and 3rd for mediums after losing the advantage of the softs. Mazepin is under investigation for the unsafe release but was given a reprimand post-race. Tsunoda retaliates by pitting the following lap, though had a bit of an issue with one of the wheels. He’s joined by Delétraz and Shwartzman too. Zhou inherits the race lead, ahead of Piquet in 2nd and Ticktum in 3rd.

Vips were told to push by his engineer and does exactly that. Using the slipstream, he overtakes Armstrong and now sits in 6th, two seconds behind Ilott. Behind them, Shwartzman overtakes Ghiotto for 15th and was on a hunt for Delétraz 2 seconds ahead.

Vips and Alesi come in to swap tyres, whilst Piquet was under attack by Ticktum behind, but the Brazilian manages to defend the inside from the Briton to stay ahead. This battle meant Zhou now had a 5.1 second gap ahead.

Mazepin manages to clear through Lundgaard, whilst Piquet, Ticktum, Ilott, Armstrong and Aitken all come in to pit, coming out behind Ghiotto in 9th. Armstrong drops to 15th after being overtaken by Vips and Markelov.

Tsunoda was now moving up to 4th, trying to battle Lundgaard, but the Dane backs out from defending and goes into the pits. Zhou and Nissany still lead ahead of Mazepin, but they are yet to stop, unlike the Russian.

For lap 16, the two front runners come into the pits, leaving Mazepin out for the lead, this time ahead of Tsunoda by 1.6 seconds. Zhou comes out ahead of Ghiotto, but with the cold tyres, he’s already being attacked by the Italian. With pressure on his rear, he locks up, losing positions to him and Piquet was under attack by Delétraz. With them two attacking, Ticktum manages to close down the gap and also lunge on the Chinese driver for 8th.

Ghiotto now has a train behind with Piquet, Ticktum, Zhou and Ilott. Piquet and Ticktum fancy a move on the experienced Hitech driver, though the Briton backs out whilst the Brazilian manages to find a spot around the outside to take 6th. Piquet loses the positions not long after as both Ghiotto and Ticktum get past once again. Ilott also managed to get ahead of his teammate for 9th, now sat 0.4 seconds behind Piquet in the Ghiotto train. Through into the bus stop chicane, Ilott manages to get past Piquet, whilst Zhou does the same into the first corner.

For lap 19, teams across the entire paddock clapped in honour and memory of Anthoine Hubert. Drivers raced around the Spa track with Hubert in their minds, racing for him. Hubert will always be remembered not only in Formula 2 but the entire paddock for his determination and passion for racing.

Zhou tries to overtake Ilott many times through lap 19, but often backing out to avoid a collision with his British teammate. However, the Chinese driver got past him, moving up a position. A little bit later into the lap, he goes around the outside at the final chicane and takes 7th from Ghiotto. At the front, Tsunoda made a move on Mazepin for the race lead after the Kemmel straight, though went off track and rejoined behind the Russian driver. Meanwhile, Nissany moves his way up to 11th, overtaking Jüri Vips.

Markelov is given a drive-through penalty for gaining an advantage, to which he takes the following lap, dropping him from 13th. Ilott was on the rear of Ghiotto’s car with Nissany behind him who has fresher tyres.

Tsunoda sits behind Mazepin, constantly trying to overtake, but still sitting behind him. Behind, Ilott is struggling on the softs, plus with Nissany having better grip, he’s pulling out ahead and overtakes the Briton, now within reaching grasp on Ghiotto. Meanwhile, Vips takes 11th from Piquet, now up 10 positions for his debut Formula 2 race. For Nissany, he’s having his best race as he sends it down the inside on Ghiotto for 8th, now sat on reverse grid pole.

Nikita and Yuki are battling hard for the lead. Mazepin defends his line around the inside, whilst Tsunoda chooses the outside once again, leaving the deciding overtake on final chicane. But the experienced Russian keeps ahead of the Japanese rookie. Ticktum came under attack by Zhou at the end, though held on to 6th.

Just a few minutes after crossing the line and on the cool down lap, Mazepin was under investigation and then given a 5 second penalty, giving the rookie Japanese his second win in Formula 2. On top of this, Drugovich was disqualified for pitting on the final lap, Matsushita was given a 3 place grid drop for causing the collision and Armstrong was given a 5 second penalty for overtaking off track.

The feature race results are:
1. Yuki Tsunoda
2. PENALISED Nikita Mazepin
3. Mick Schumacher
4. Louis Delétraz
5. Robert Shwartzman
6. Dan Ticktum
7. Guanyu Zhou
8. Roy Nissany
9. Luca Ghiotto
10. Callum Ilott
11. Jüri Vips
12. Pedro Piquet
13. Jack Aitken
14. Marino Sato
15. Marcus Armstrong
16. Artem Markelov
17. Christian Lundgaard
18. Giuliano Alesi
19. Jehan Daruvala
20. DNF Guilherme Samaia
21. DSQ Felipe Drugovich
22. DNF Nobuharu Matsushita

Sprint Race

The sprint race grid is:
1. Roy Nissany
2. Guanyu Zhou
3. Dan Ticktum
4. Robert Shwartzman
5. Louis Delétraz
6. Mick Schumacher
7. Nikita Mazepin
8. Yuki Tsunoda
9. Luca Ghiotto
10. Callum Ilott
11. Jüri Vips
12. Pedro Piquet
13. Jack Aitken
14. Marino Sato
15. Marcus Armstrong
16. Artem Markelov
17. Christian Lundgaard
18. Giuliano Alesi
19. Jehan Daruvala
20. Guilherme Samaia
21. Felipe Drugovich
22. Nobuharu Matsushita

It was announced prior the race that the MP Motorsport team couldn’t get the number 14 car on the grid, despite their best efforts to repair the car, meaning Nobuharu Matsushita couldn’t join the sprint race.
Jüri Vips stalled off the grid on the formation lap, meaning he had to start in the pitlane for the race.
Zhou gets swallowed by the drivers around him, dropping to 6th. Meanwhile, Ticktum gets off from third to take the lead, followed by Nissany and Shwartzman. Tsunoda, Aitken, Ilott and Mazepin are all side by side through into Kemmel straight. Nissany manages to retake the lead, whilst Ilott gets spun by Tsunoda. Because of the incident, the safety car was called.

The green flag is waved again for lap four. Nissany still leads ahead of Ticktum, but the British driver has a lot of speed up the straight. Dan goes around the outside of the track but has a slight tap to go wide. Upon rejoining, he hit the kerb, meaning he couldn’t turn and went into Nissany, ending his race. The safety car was called out to retrieve the Trident car.

Once again, the racing resumes on lap seven. Ghiotto goes up Eau Rouge and Radillon, but loses the rear briefly at the top of the hill, losing out to Schumacher and dropping to 7th. Delétraz makes his way up to 2nd, overtaking Ticktum at the final chicane, whilst Zhou sits behind. Dan manages to retake the position from the Swiss driver with DRS and slipstream. Behind, Schumacher is up to 5th after overtaking Mazepin and Aitken makes his way up to 7th from Ghiotto. Meanwhile, Armstrong’s race was done after his car’s fire extinguisher went off, meaning he had to retire for safety reasons.

Zhou sees a move on Delétraz and tap, but they keep going, allowing the Chinese driver to get ahead. Louis ended up losing a position to Schumacher in the process, dropping him to 5th. The Prema driver has enough pace to keep going and overtake Zhou as well for 3rd, now having Ticktum ahead. Lower down the grid, Daruvala manages to get up to 15th from Alesi and Vips gains two places on both Drugovich and Samaia for 17th.

Tsunoda was given a 5 second penalty for spinning Ilott around and ending his race. In terms of the fight for points, Mazepin tried to go around the outside of Zhou at the first chicane up the hill but goes wide meaning he had to give the position back to him.

Dan had a large lockup into the final chicane, giving him a large flat spot on the bottom of his tyre. Schumacher passes the Brit with ease, making a Prema 1-2 now. Zhou tries to overtake him as well, but still can’t get past him, allowing Mazepin to reduce the gap. Ghiotto manages to overtake Aitken, who now had to take a 10 second stop and go for starting in the wrong grid spot.

With Ticktum slowing down everyone, Ghiotto and Delétraz are fighting each other for 6th. Louis ended up losing positions to Ghiotto and then Tsunoda after trying to overtake the Italian driver and getting a bad exit.

Shwartzman led the race by 9 seconds to Schumacher, who has a 3 second gap to Zhou. Meanwhile, Ticktum was holding off from drivers behind including Mazepin in 5th. Sato and Daruvala were fighting each other and the Japanese driver was spun round at the chicane. He managed to keep the car going and continue on the race, though now sat in 17th.

The virtual safety car was pulled out since once again, Daruvala and Sato were fighting. Jehan locked up and went into the rear of the Trident car, spinning him around and then stalling it. Daruvala falls down the order to 15th ahead of Samaia. The Indian driver was given a ten second penalty for causing the collision.

The green flag resumed not too long after, allowing 2 laps of racing to the chequered flag. Markelov got a better restart than Lundgaard to take 9th. Christian didn’t go down without a fight and retakes it from the Russian later on the lap. Vips did something similar and manages to move up to 11th again after overtaking Piquet. Delétraz moves up to 7th, putting Tsunoda down to 8th.

Mazepin comes through the inside to take 4th and Ghiotto follows suit. Ticktum now is under attack from Delétraz in 7th up through the hill. With that flat spot, it was difficult for Dan to really defend from drivers behind him, losing to Louis Delétraz. Yuki Tsunoda was pulling a fight to the British driver too, but couldn’t defend from him. Lundgaard and Markelov sit behind him and overtake with ease, dropping him to 10th.

The sprint race results are:
1. Robert Shwartzman
2. Mick Schumacher
3. Guanyu Zhou
4. Nikita Mazepin
5. Luca Ghiotto
6. Louis Delétraz
7. Christian Lundgaard
8. Artem Markelov
9. Dan Ticktum
10. PENALISED Yuki Tsunoda
11. Jüri Vips
12. Pedro Piquet
13. Felipe Drugovich
14. Giuliano Alesi
15. Guilherme Samaia
16. PENALISED Jehan Daruvala
17. PENALISED [Taken Mid Race] Jack Aitken
18. DNF Marcus Armstrong
19. DNF Marino Sato
20. DNF Roy Nissany
21. DNF Callum Ilott
22. DNS Nobuharu Matsushita

We’ll be back on Wednesday for a Race Review, with what we thought of our predictions, highlights, lowlights, underrated drivers and so on. Check on our social medias to see how you can be included in these posts!