Guanyu Zhou made history this Friday in Monaco by claiming the first ever win by a Chinese driver in the streets of the Principality. He also strengthened his early lead of the F2 Drivers’ Championship by winning Sprint Race 1 (30 laps), surviving a late Safety Car to win over Brazilian team-mate Felipe Drugovich, who benefitted from Denmark’s Christian Lundgaard retirement from second with mechanical issues.
The podium was completed by Israel’s driver Roy Nissany, his first ever podium in F2, after the DAMS’ racer held off Campos’ Ralph Boschung until the chequered flag. Russian Jüri Vips came on top of a race-long battle with Dan Ticktum for 5th, while French poleman for Race 3, Théo Pourchaire, continued his hot form by making up three places to 7th, ahead of Prema Racing’s Oscar Piastri.
One of just four drivers to have experienced the streets of Monaco in a Formula 2 car before, Zhou enjoyed a near-perfect getaway off the line, coolly pulling off into the distance when the lights went out. The Chinese racer was expecting to go head-to-head with his UNI-Virtuosi teammate Drugovich, but instead it was his Alpine Academy rival, Lundgaard, who was breathing down his neck at the exit of Turn 1. The ART ace had taken the inside curb to pass Drugovich for second at the start.
Having bridged a 3s gap between himself and Zhou, Lundgaard’s podium was suddenly under threat as smoke bellowed from the back of his ART. The Dane slowed significantly and began to drop down the order, before coming to a stop and bringing out a yellow flag. Also eyeing a maiden rostrum in F2, Boschung, after securing his best qualifying position at this level on Thursday,was pushing his Campos in pursuit of Nissany but couldn’t bridge the gap and settled for P4, his highest finish in F2.
Qualifying on the front row on Thursday, Robert Shwarztman experienced contrasting fortunes, pushing too hard and whacking the wall of Casino Square. The Russian limped back to the pits with half a front wing and attempted to get back out, but was eventually forced to retire.
The points’ scorers all stayed out of trouble until the closing lap, but just behind them Marcus Armstrong was closing in on Jehan Daruvala. The DAMS’ driver deemed the move a risk worth taking and dramatically dove past the Carlin driver at the finish line. He will then be on reverse grid pole for Sprint Race 2, early Saturday morning.