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UNI-Virtuosi close the gap to Carlin in the Teams’ Championship battle at Jeddah

UNI-Virtuosi closed the gap to Carlin in the teams’ standings as the FIA Formula 2 Championship raced at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for the first time. The British team left the brand-new street circuit with three top-five finishes.

Felipe Drugovich equalled his second strongest Qualifying position of the season on Friday evening as the Brazilian driver took fifth, one place in front of Zhou, for a place on the third row of the Feature Race grid.

For Sprint Race 1, Zhou and Drugovich were reversed. The Brazilian managed to steer clear of trouble during a chaotic race that included multiple stoppages and collisions, finishing two places up in P4 at the flag.

It was an unfortunate afternoon for Zhou, who ended up at the back of the field after spinning during an ambitious move on fellow Alpine junior Christian Lundgaard at the first chicane. With too much ground to make up as a result, Zhou classified 17th and out of the points.

Zhou faced a tough task to make it into the points in the second Sprint Race, starting from 17th on the tight streets of Jeddah, but put on a fearless performance and charged to eighth with a series of slick overtakes.

Drugovich had looked capable of securing a second successive top-five finish in Sprint Race 2. However, he was tagged by Juri Vips after overtaking the Hitech Grand Prix driver in the final DRS zone, and although he managed to continue, the damage to his car caused him to drop out of the top 10.

After a lengthy delay due to track repairs, Drugovich and Zhou lined up in their Qualifying positions of fifth and sixth for the Feature Race, but swapped places at the start as Zhou darted past Drugovich when the lights went out.

However, the race was then Red Flagged after a collision between Theo Pourchaire and Enzo Fittipaldi off the line. The pair were transferred to hospital and later confirmed as conscious by an FIA statement.

The race was shortened to 20 minutes plus one lap, and after a rolling start, Zhou put pressure on Ralph Boschung for the final podium position.

Only five laps had been completed when the action was Red Flagged for a second time. It was then confirmed that the race would not be restarted, with Zhou and Drugovich finishing fourth and fifth, taking half-points.

With one round of the season to go, Zhou is third in the Drivers’ standings with 149 points and Drugovich is ninth with 72. UNI-Virtuosi are third in the Teams’ Championship on 221 points, closing the gap to second-placed Carlin by 8.5 points.

The season finale of the FIA Formula 2 Championship will be held at Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi from 10-12 December.

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