After making his F1 weekend debut for AlphaTauri in FP1 on Friday, Liam Lawson proved he could more than handle the switch back too, as he took a commanding victory around Spa-Francorchamps – overcoming a late Safety Car appearance to take the chequered flag nearly four seconds clear of Jack Doohan, who fought his way up the order from seventh.
Ralph Boschung survived a last-minute charge from Felipe Drugovich, who was on the soft tyres after gambling on a stop during the Safety Car period, to bring home a podium on his return from injury.
The Swiss driver had lined up alone on the reverse grid front row, as second place Jehan Daruvala pulled over on the reconnaissance lap. Yet it was Lawson who got a blistering start off the line, dipping his wheel onto the grass to avoid a slow-starting Theo Pourchaire and diving up into second by Turn 1. With the advantage of the slipstream, the Red Bull junior made light work of claiming the race lead along the Kemmel Straight and never looked back.
Even the Safety Car’s appearance on Lap 11 didn’t faze the New Zealander, as his Carlin team mate Logan Sargeant found the barriers at Pouhon, which opened the door for almost half the field to gamble on a switch to the softs – including Drugovich, who dropped from sixth to 12th as a result.
The pace advantage was clear from the get-go when racing got back under way, as the Brazilian carved his way up to fifth by the final lap with a move on title rival Pourchaire. Passing Richard Verschoor up the inside of Rivage, Drugovich had the pace but not enough time to snatch the final podium spot away from Boschung, who had been demoted to third by Doohan a lap earlier.
Verschoor claimed fifth ahead Pourchaire, while Marcus Armstrong climbed his way up into the points from 12th to seventh. David Beckmann finished eighth, as Red Bull juniors Ayumu Iwasa and Dennis Hauger completed the top 10.
Extending his lead to 25 points, Drugovich will be hoping to widen that gap even further in Sunday’s Feature Race when he lines up on pole at 1020 local time.
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