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May 24 2021

A win and two additional podiums see UNI-Virtuosi leave Monaco with both Championship Leads

A win for Guanyu Zhou and P2 finish for Felipe Drugovich in Sprint Race 1 gave UNI-Virtuosi the Teams’ Championship lead ahead of Saturday’s action in Monte Carlo. 

With Sprint Race 1’s top ten finishers reversed, an early and damp second sprint race of the weekend saw Felipe Drugovich and Guanyu Zhou line up side-by-side on the fifth row of the grid. Both drivers fell down the order following a procession of yellow flags and safety cars, and a double-stacked pit stop to change onto slick tyres, a gamble that ultimately did not pay off. Drugovich abandoned his slicks and returned onto wets on lap 16, following teammate Zhou’s second pit stop a lap earlier.

Drugovich and Zhou crossed the line fifteenth and sixteenth respectively, but were promoted to P14 and P15 following Liam Lawson’s post-race disqualification. 

Zhou headed into Saturday’s Feature Race 18 points clear of second-place Dan Ticktum in the Drivers’ Championship.

The UNI-Virtuosi duo lined up alongside each other on the fifth row of the grid for the second time of the day. A late change to the alternative strategy for Drugovich saw him pit just 10 laps into the Feature Race, pushing Zhou up to ninth. UNI-Virtuosi’s strategy call paid off heavily this time for the Brazilian driver who spent the remaining laps steadily rising up the order. 

Zhou too made his way up the order as the early leaders came into the pits, with the Chinese racer eventually taking the lead of the race on lap 31. It wasn’t plain sailing for Zhou who was prevented from making his mandatory pit stop by a series of virtual safety cars. However, both strategies proved successful for UNI-Virtuosi, as Zhou exited the pit lane on lap 38, fifth on track. 

Felipe Drugovich was third over the line, earning him his second podium of the weekend. 

On cold tyres and with four cars to hold off, Zhou was able to hang on to P5 and claimed an additional 2 points for the fastest lap time of 1:21.912 seconds.

UNI-Virtuosi now top the Drivers’ Championship, with Guanyu Zhou 16 points ahead of second place, and the Constructors’ Championship, where they lead PREMA Racing by 15.

Round 3 of the 2021 FIA Formula 2 Championship will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan from 4-6 June.

Felipe Drugovich:

We made the decision for the alternative strategy [for the Feature Race] just before the race. I tried to make it work as much as possible. I pushed so much after the pitstop, I pushed and pushed, and the last section went quickly for me. I think we made it work. Thanks again to the amazing team. It's especially amazing because it's my birthday [on Sunday, 23 May]. Two podiums in one weekend, especially in Monaco with it being my first time here, is just amazing.

Guanyu Zhou:

A late safety car in the Feature Race would have put us more into the game, but nevertheless, it was a good recovery to grab P5 and the fastest lap.