RACE DEBRIEF

    Alpine junior Oscar Piastri extended his championship lead over Guanyu Zhou with a dominant first Feature Race victory in Formula 2. The Alpine Academy duo finished first and second on Sunday morning in Monza, but were spared a late battle with Dan Ticktum – who was rapid on fresh soft tyres – as the race ended under Safety Car conditions with the Carlin in third.

    Piastri had been unable to convert pole in the previous F2 round at Silverstone after he fell behind Zhou at lights out, but looked to have learned from the experience and completed the opening lap at the front.

    READ MORE: Sauber junior Pourchaire beats Alpine test driver Zhou in opening Monza bout

    Jumping from third to second off the line, Zhou kept the pressure on throughout the race but was unable to find a way past his title rival, despite a late lock-up from the PREMA.

    As the highest-placed driver on the alternate strategy, Ticktum was handed a shot at victory by a well-timed Safety Car with five laps to go, after Red Bull junior Liam Lawson stopped on track.

    Switching from mediums to softs, he completed eight overtakes, from 11th to third. But Bernd Maylander’s Mercedes brought that run to a stop as he led the field across the line after a collision between David Beckmann and Bent Viscaal.

    Respective Sprint Race 1 and 2 winners Théo Pourchaire and Jehan Daruvala missed out on another podium, settling for the final two places in the top five.

    READ MORE: Daruvala dominates in Monza Race 2 for first victory of 2021

    They were followed by Ferrari junior Robert Shwartzman, Richard Verschoor and Lirim Zendeli. Williams Academy driver Roy Nissany and Ferrari protégé Marcus Armstrong claimed the final points places, in ninth and 10th.

    Piastri will head into Round 6 at Sochi in just under two weeks with a 15-point advantage over Zhou in the drivers’ title fight, with the PREMA driver on 149 and the UNI-Virtuosi ace on 134.

    For more on F2, visit the official F2 website.