Nobuharu Matsushita claimed a surprise victory in the Formula 2 feature race in Barcelona after the Japanese driver benefitted from a timely Safety Car period.

Matsushita took full advantage of the Lap 25 Safety Car, which allowed him to make his mandatory pit stop moving from hard to soft tyres.

The MP Motorsport driver still had work to do as he overtook championship leader Callum Ilott into Turn 1 on Lap 30 for second place.

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Matsushita then passed the Carlin of Yuki Tsunoda into Turn 1 on Lap 32 for the race lead, which he maintained despite late pressure from Robert Shwartzman after the second Safety Car period which was caused by Roy Nissany crashing at Turn 3.

Shwartzman led the early stages of the race but lost out to Ilott through the pit stop phase.

The conventional soft to hard strategy looked to be the way to go with Ilott on course to take the chequered flag ahead of main title rival Shwartzman.

The race turned on its head on Lap 25 when the Safety Car was deployed after Giuliano Alesi was beached at Turn 10, following contact with Sean Gelael.

Under the Safety Car, Tsunoda decided to remain out in the lead, while Ilott and Shwartzman made second stops for softs; Matshuita made his mandatory stop as well.

Ilott was unable to find a way past Tsuonda for the lead of the race - allowing Matsushita and Shwartzman to get through to finish first and second.

Nikita Mazepin came out of nowhere in the closing stages to finish third but he was later handed a five-second penalty for failing to go around the bollard at Turn 1 - dropping him to P13.

Guanyu Zhou - who overtook Tsunoda for fourth on the inside of Turn 10 on the final lap - joined the top two on the podium.

Ilott’s indecision when overtaking throughout proved costly with the series leader eventually dropping to fifth, just ahead of Mick Schumacher.

Schumacher was unfortunate to pit just before the first Safety Car period after struggling with his hard tyres but recovered well to finish sixth.

Felipe Drugovich classified seventh and was also unlucky that he could not stop under the Safety Car for fresh softs after being behind MP Motorsport team-mate Matsushita and thus would have had to queue in the pits.

Luca Ghiotto, Dan Ticktum and Louis Delétraz completed the points-paying positions.

Pedro Piquet also picked up a five-second penalty shortly after the race, dropping him from P10 to P14.