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Friday, February 23 2024

Daruvala wins Sprint Race, Piastri crowned F2 champion

Daruvala wins Sprint Race, Piastri crowned F2 champion
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Abu Dhabi(UAE): India’s Jehan Daruvala won his second Sprint Race of the season at the final outing at Yas Marina even as Oscar Piastri ran a superb race from 10th to third to seal the Formula 2 crown with a podium on Saturday.

Carlin’s Daruvala beat UNI-Virtuosi’s Felipe Drugovich to take victory on the track, but all eyes were locked on Piastri to see if he could wrap up the Championship. And the PREMA driver’s stylish performance was a fitting end to a phenomenal campaign, which includes five wins, 10 podiums, and five poles.

Piastri completed a historic hat-trick in Sprint Race 1 at Yas Marina, claiming the overall title to add it to a collection that includes the 2020 Formula 3 Championship and the 2019 Formula Renault trophy.

Finishing fourth, Robert Shwartzman led Piastri for the majority of the 23 laps and put up a strong fight, but was unable to delay his teammate’s coronation, who joined Charles Leclerc and George Russell as rookie champions.

Liam Lawson, Dan Ticktum, Théo Pourchaire, and Guanyu Zhou took the remaining points on offer, with tyre wear proving particularly challenging in 38-degree track temperatures, which made overtaking difficult in the second half of the race.

The 23-year-old Mumbai-born Daruvala got off to a great stat, steaking away to head into Turn 1 at the front of the field and ahead of Drugovich. The second Carlin of Dan Ticktum struggled off the line, sinking to fourth, with Liam Lawson also getting the jump on him. Looking to wrap up the title at the earliest opportunity, Piastri was rapid at the start, lunging from 10th to sixth and putting himself directly behind his teammate Shwartzman, the one driver who could prevent him from clinching the crown.

The PREMAs were in fantastic form as the pair of them scampered ahead of Ticktum for a spot in the top five, before Shwartzman put some daylight between himself and Piastri, taking the final podium position from Lawson and putting the Hitech between himself and his teammate. But Piastri swiftly responded, getting past Lawson on the following lap and returning to the tyre tracks of Shwartzman.

Daruvala and Drugovich were continuing their battle at the front of the field, as the Red Bull junior fought to ditch the UNI-Virtuosi and rid him of DRS. All the while, Shwartzman was gaining on the pair of them, the PREMA driver cutting the gap from 3s to 1.5s within a lap, as Virtuosi pressured Drugovich to get the move done on team radio.

Shwartzman appeared in his mirrors, and this gave Drugovich the nudge he needed to make a move on Daruvala, but the Brazilian couldn’t make it stick. Initially getting in front at Turn 8, the Carlin responded and pulled back ahead at Turn 9 to retain the first position.

There wasn’t too much going on behind them, with the majority of the field in a battle with their heavily degrading Pirelli, as Lawson led Ticktum, Pourchaire, Zhou, Ralph Boschung, and Marcus Armstrong in the remainder of the top 10.

Daruvala led Drugovich and Piastri across the line for his second win of the season. Shwartzman finished fourth ahead of Lawson, with Ticktum, Pourchaire, and Zhou finishing in the final points position.

“Back on the top step after a disappointing weekend in Jeddah where I didn’t take many points, so it is good to start the weekend with a victory. We weren’t too strong in Quali, but our race pace looked pretty strong,” Daruvala said after the race.

“I had a great battle with Felipe (Drugovich) at one point and we were side-by-side for a couple of corners, but I managed to stick it out in front. The car felt good, and I just took it to the chequered flag.

“Congratulations to Oscar (Piastri), I didn’t think that I would see him on the podium from 10th, but a big well done to him, he has dominated the whole year.”

Piastri clinched the Championship with a tally of 227.5 points, with Shwartzman in second on 170 and Zhou third with 150. Ticktum is fourth with 143.6 points and Pourchaire fifth on 126 in the eight-race series, which is a rung below the Formula 1 circuit and is conducted at the same circuit.

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