Marcus Armstrong has charged from outside the Top 10 to snare second on his debut FIA Formula 2 race at the Red Bull Ring in a safety car-affected feature showdown.
Callum Illot claimed victory after his Virtuosi Racing teammate and pole-sitter Guanyu Zhou was struck by a mechanical issue.
Illot claimed the lead at Turn 1 after Zhou made a sluggish start and fell to third off the line as rookie Felipe Drugovich took second.
However, he soon dispatched MP Motorsport’s Drugovich before reclaiming the lead from Ilott around the outside of Turn 7 on the same lap.
The Renault junior would comfortably lead the race after the first round of pitstops and looked set for a certain victory before he started slowing on lap 27.
Zhou would make it back to pitlane but a similar issue at HWA Racelab saw Artem Markelov also ground to a halt and the safety car was deployed to neutralise the field.
The caution played right into the hands of Armstrong who had decided to pit incredibly early to maximise his advantage on fresh tyres and had inherited third.
Utimately, it meant mean the Kiwi would have to fend off the fresh tyre-shod cars behind with his former Prema teammate Robert Shwartzman pressuring him all the way to line but could not triumph over his rival’s strong defence.
Mick Schumacher and Illot duly resumed the dual for the lead before the German was forced wide at Turn 7, skating across the gravel before re-joining down in 11th.
The incident elevated Armstrong to second where he would ultimately cross the line after an enthralling race.
Armstrong’s teammate Christian Lundgaard would hold on to fourth place after a late-race tussle with Dan Ticktum who finished ahead of Giuliano Alesi who ran the alternative strategy and benefited enormously from the safety car.
Armstrong will now have one more race tonight in the F2 sprint race where he will start from seventh courtesy of a reverse top-8.
|17||Guanyu Zhou||+1 lap|
|18||Yuki Tsunoda||+1 lap|