F2: Sauber junior Pourchaire beats Alpine test driver Zhou in opening Monza bout
Theo Pourchaire and Guanyu Zhou have been amongst the names linked with the final Alfa Romeo seat in recent weeks, and the pair were at the front of a manic Formula 2 opener at Monza, Sauber junior Pourchaire claiming a second win ahead of the Alpine Test Driver Zhou in Sprint Race 1.
Jüri Vips had stolen first from reverse polesitter David Beckmann when the lights went out, but both succumbed to heavy tyre degradation and finished the race in eighth and 10th.
Their struggles allowed Pourchaire to pounce and take the lead, with the ART Grand Prix driver brilliantly managing his rubber to cross the line with a 4.3s advantage. Zhou had too much ground to make up by the time he got past Vips but did close the gap to championship leader Oscar Piastri, who finished in fourth.
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There could be several nominations for driver of the day, but chief of those was Christian Lundgaard, who suffered a torrid Qualifying and lined up in 19th, but found plenty of race pace to climb to third and complete an unlikely double podium for ART.
Red Bull junior Liam Lawson required a new front wing after a scuffle with Pourchaire in the early stages of the race, but recovered superbly to charge back up from last and cross the line fifth.
Ferrari Academy driver Robert Shwartzman was sixth after a five-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage, while Bent Viscaal took seventh.
After finishing 10th, Beckmann will start from pole for the second time in a row on Saturday afternoon’s reverse grid Sprint Race 2 at 1445 local time. The Feature Race takes place on Sunday at 1025 local time, the grid set by Friday’s Qualifying session.
For more on F2, visit the official series website.