2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix: The F2 debrief

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Formula 2 celebrated its 100th race over the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend and, almost predictably, the F2 drivers delivered three races worthy of the occasion.

Two new race winners for 2021 emerged in the form of Robert Shwartzman and Jüri Vips. Both drivers now catapult themselves into the championship race, while Guanyu Zhou faltered.

Here’s how the GP Grandstand team reflect on Formula 2’s trip to Baku in 2021.

Thiemo Albers-Daly – “A beast of a track”

The Baku Street Circuit is a beast of a track. Liam Lawson and both HWA cars were taken out of Sprint Race 1 on the opening lap due to in-race incidents of the narrow, twisty nature of the track.
Zhou and Zenedeli were then out of Sprint Race 2 on the opening lap with Verschoor, Boschung, Armstrong and Lungaard joining them throughout the rest of the race.
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The Feature Race also claimed a few victims, demonstrating that there’s always plenty of drama at Baku. It’s also a great reason why Baku deserves to be on the calendar – its unforgiving nature is a great way to test these young drivers and see if they really cut the mustard.

Jim Kimberley – “A punishing weekend for several drivers”

Only three rounds into the 2021 season but we’re approaching the halfway point of Formula 2’s 2021 campaign. As such, I think it’s time we can start writing some former championship contenders out of the title race with a punishing weekend for several drivers.
Marcus Armstrong and Christian Lundgaard have, to be fair, suffered torrid luck throughout the season so far. That misfortune didn’t dissipate at Azerbaijan and both men face what seems an insurmountable challenge to toss their hats into the title race.
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Not so for Robert Shwartzman and Juri Vips, however, who both vault themselves up the standings. Guanyu Zhou still leads, and it’s a testament to the rest of his season so far that a podium visit can be considered a poor couple of days at the office.
Like his Alpine Academy peer, Oscar Piastri continues his streak of podium visits, too. The Aussie is looking every bit an F2 driver as his more experienced UNI-Virtuosi counterpart and both could create a huge headache for Alpine’s management for their 2022 driver line-up

Jacob Phillips – “Few clues where the championship will end up”

Not many had considered Juri Vips a contender arriving into Baku, but he leaves in a very healthy position. Having been kept honest by teammate Liam Lawson on Friday, the weekend held contrasting emotions for each side of the Hitech garage.

Vips managed a win in both the feature and final sprint race whilst the Kiwi failed to make his mark. With Helmet Marko in attendance, the Estonian has launched himself into F1 contention.

From a Prema persuasion, Robert Shwartzman had his best weekend of the season to reignite his championship charge. A win in Race 1 was followed up by a podium to leapfrog the Russian up the third. His teammate, Oscar Piastri, also kept his championship hopes alive with a strong podium in race two.

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Despite its heavy social media coverage, many may have missed that F2 celebrated its 100th race in Baku. The race was typically chaotic, packed full of crashes and overtakes.

With it still tight at the top, current leader Zhou failed to make any inroads as very few clues were given to where the championship will end up come December.  Baku didn’t disappoint in what I thought was an enjoyable weekend of action.

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