Nikita Mazepin won for the first time in FIA Formula 2 after a flawless performance from fifth on the grid for Hitech at Silverstone in Saturday’s Feature Race.
Part of the Russian’s charge was contributed by Callum Ilott stalling on the grid from second at the start of the formation lap, which meant that the home-hero had to start from the pit lane.
Felipe Drugovich made a reasonable start from pole positon but it wasn’t enough to keep Mick Schumacher behind and he dropped further on the opening lap as Christian Lundgaard got past for third.
The top ten at the end of Lap 2 was Schumacher, Mazepin, Lundgaard, Drugovich, Jack Aitken, Yuki Tsunoda, Guanyu Zhou, Nobuharu Matsushita, Louis Deletraz and Jehan Daruvala.
On the third tour, Mazepin was able to pull alongside race-leader Schumacher to move in front around the outside at Stowe.
The order remain unchanged until the pit window opened. Lap 8 saw Mazepin and Schumacher pit in together. Both stops were identical and the order between the pair was the same as they exited the pits.
Lundgaard came in for change of tyres on the next lap and re-joined behind Mazepin and Schumacher whilst the Danish driver was trying to get temperature into his tyres.
Drugovich led those on the alternate strategy at the end of Lap 11. Zhou was second and Aitken third. The rest of the top ten by this point were Matsushita, Marcus Armstrong, Robert Shwartzman, Luca Ghiotto, Sean Gelael, Artem Markelov and Giuliano Alesi.
On Lap 15, Lundgaard tussled it out with Schumacher going into Luffield and the ART driver was through around the outside and effectively into second position.
Drugovich pitted three laps later to change onto the softer-compound tyre and re-joined behind Mazepin, Schumacher and Lundgaard in 12th.
Zhou was now in the lead ahead of Aitken but both had still yet to make their mandatory pit stops. Mazepin was up to third on the road and on course for the victory.
Zhou and Aitken came into the pits with eight laps to go and would come back out in eighth and 13th but on much fresher rubber than the majority of the field.
Mazepin was back at the head of the pack, with Lundgaard second and Schumacher third. The rest of the top ten was completed by Deletraz, Tsunoda, Daruvala, Ilott, Zhou, Drugovich and Dan Ticktum.
A change of position between the UNI-Virtuosi drivers, as Zhou overtook Ilott for seventh on the Wellington straight on Lap 23 before Daruvala became the next to fall behind the Chinese driver.
Further ahead, Deletraz was round the outside of Schumacher at Vale and was up to third, with the German dropping back. Tsunoda therefore nipped by the German on Lap 24 at The Loop, followed by Zhou at Luffield.
The battle commenced very quickly between Tsunoda and Zhou for fourth, as the UNI-Virtuosi driver easily got the better of the Carlin pilot.
Both were able to slice their way past Deletraz, as the Swiss made a mistake coming out of Vale before the pit straight. The Charouz would fall back another place at the expense of Ilott, who had just got by Schumacher shortly beforehand.
Mazepin’s lead was four seconds with only four laps left but the Russian was able to manage his second stint of tyres very well. Second-place Lundgaard was not quite so comfortable however, as Zhou on his much-fresher tyres was able to get through on the inside of Stowe.
Things would get worse for Lundgaard, as Tsunoda got by the Danish driver on the last lap at the same turn to move up into the podium places, thus Lundgaard falling down to fourth position.
The chequered flag was waved for Nikita Mazepin, as the Hitech driver crossed the line to take the Feature Race win. Zhou was second ahead of Tsunoda and Lundgaard. Ilott was fifth in front of Deletraz. Drugvoich in seventh for MP Motorsport, with Dan Ticktum overtaking Schumacher on the last lap to finish eighth and will be on reverse-grid pole for the Sprint Race.
Guanyu Zhou got the extra two points for the fastest lap, while Robert Shwartzman had a lacklustre race to 14th.
The Russian’s lead in the championship has been cut to eight points over Callum Ilott, while Nikita Mazepin’s win elevates him to fourth and three points behind third-place Christian Lundgaard.
The Sprint Race on Sunday morning begins at 10:10 BST.