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Road To F1: Tsunoda wins thrilling Sakhir Feature Race as F2 title battle goes down to final race

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Red Bull junior Yuki Tsunoda secured his Super Licence in the Formula 2 Feature Race at the Sakhir Grand Prix thanks to a brilliant third win of the season from pole. His efforts weren’t quite enough to keep his title ambitions alive though, with the race for the crown now a two-way brawl between Mick Schumacher and Callum Ilott.

Tsunoda beat Renault Academy driver Guanyu Zhou by 5.6s for the win, but it wasn’t a simple lights-to-flag affair, with the Carlin racer locked in a mega five-car dogfight for victory.

The Japanese racer - heavily tipped to be driving for AlphaTauri in F1 next year - needed to finish at least fifth in the F2 standings to automatically qualify for a Super Licence to allow him to race in the top tier next season. This win ensured he will do just that.

Zhou came out of that five-car battle in second after a magnificent charge through the field from 11th. 2021 Haas driver Nikita Mazepin finished third on track but was handed two five-second time penalties after the race, for forcing Tsunoda off the road and ‘hindering’ Felipe Drugovich. The latter was promoted onto the podium, while Mazepin dropped down to ninth.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - DECEMBER 05: Race winner Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Carlin (centre), second

Race winner Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Carlin (centre), second placed Guanyu Zhou of China and UNI-Virtuosi Racing (left) and third placed Nikita Mazepin of Russia and Hitech Grand Prix (right) celebrate on the podium during the Sakhir Feature Race

Schumacher suffered a disastrous qualifying session on Friday, lining up in 18th after a late collision with Williams junior Roy Nissany. Also a 2021 Haas driver, Schumacher proved his mettle with a sterling recovery drive, fighting up to sixth – after Mazepin’s penalty was applied – directly behind his main rival, Callum Ilott, who had begun the day in P9.

Ilott needs a 14-point swing in his favour to prevent Schumacher from sealing the F2 title in the Sprint Race tomorrow. It could hardly be more dramatic, with the pair lining up in second and third at 1520 (local time), ahead of a mouth-watering season finale.

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