Marcus Armstrong has cruised to third in the FIA Formula 2 sprint race around the Red Bull Ring as the aspiring Kiwi racer clinched his second podium finish in his debut season to keep his title challenge alive.
Armstrong’s ART teammate Christian Lundgaard proved untouchable all race to lead the majority of the 28-lapper to claim his maiden F2 victory, crossing the line 2.063s ahead of pole-sitter Dan Ticktum.
Courtesy of his seventh-place finish in yesterday’s rain-soaked feature race, Armstrong started alongside Ticktum on the front row.
But a solid getaway by the front two was nothing compared to the launch of Lungaard who immediately went on the assault for the lead from the second row of the grid.
The Danish racer scythed his way ahead of Armstrong into Turn 1 but was compelled to settle for second due to the Virtual Safety Car being deployed by race control as the field charged their way towards Turn 3.
Yesterday’s race winner Robert Shwartzman spun on his own at Turn 1, creating a blanket of tyre smoke which thankfully didn’t result in a more serious accident.
Lungaard then got a sublime restart and went back on the attack, sending a bold lunge on Ticktum into the Turn 3 hairpin to snare the lead on lap four.
From there he was never headed. Building a three-second margin by half-race distance, Lundgaard was able to nurture his tyres for the rest of the race to pick up a dominant victory.
Armstrong struggled to match the pace of the front two in the race’s opening stages, but the Kiwi was able to keep Mick Schumacher at bay in the sole remaining Prema entry.
But the series debutant slowly began to eat into the advantage of Ticktum and by lap 7 had closed to within DRS range of the DAMS racer.
Unfortunately, Armstrong failed to muster a move on Ticktum and allowed a lurking Schumacher to pounce and steal the final spot on the podium on lap 12.
However, Schumacher’s race would end in the daftest of circumstances three laps later when the fire extinguisher in his Prema set itself off approaching the penultimate corner.
It elevated Armstrong back into third which he held all the way to the line in a processional final ten laps.
Guanyu Zhou, Callum Ilott, Jack Aitken, Sean Gelael and Nikita Mazepin rounded out the point finishers.
Pacesetter on both Friday and Saturday, Yuki Tsunoda’s race ended abruptly when a clutch issue meant the Red Bull junior parked his Carlin down the escape road at Turn 4 in the opening stages of the race.
F2 will once again join the F1 paddock as a support class at the Hungarian Grand Prix next weekend.