Guanyu Zhou converted pole position into the Formula 2 feature race victory in Bahrain to take an early lead in the drivers’ standings.

Zhou resisted late pressure from Dan Ticktum at the end of the race to claim his first victory of 2021.

The Chinese driver claimed pole position by just 0.003s on Friday ahead of Christian Lundgaard.

It didn’t go all Zhou’s way with a Safety Car midway through the race playing a decisive role.

Zhou lost the lead initially to Lundgaard and Felipe Drugovich - both drivers opting to start on the soft tyre, while Zhou was on the hard.

Oscar Piastri joined the fight for the win in the early part of the race, taking the net lead ahead of Lundgaard and Drugovich due to a timely Virtual Safety Car period.

Drivers are prohibited from stopping under the VSC, but it was deployed when Piastri was exiting the pit exit, which allowed him to take the race lead.

Like in yesterday’s second sprint race, the Safety Car turned the race on its head as it allowed Marcus Armstrong to make a ‘free pit stop’ to inherit the lead of head of Piastri, Richard Verschoor and Lundgaard.

The Safety Car period put the advantage in the hands of the soft tyre runners, allowing the likes of Zhou to cut through the field.

Zhou overtook Piastri into Turn 1 on lap 23, then Verschoor on lap 28 into Turn 4 to take the lead. 

Drama ensued behind Zhou as Ticktum and Piastri collided on the exit of Turn 2, forcing the Prema driver out of the race.

It didn’t stop Ticktum’s hunt for the win as the Brit finished just 0.4s off Zhou at the end of the race.

Liam Lawson went under the radar in the closing laps and overtook Verschoor, who had been on for the win at one point, for third place.

Armstrong ultimately classified fifth after struggling for pace after his pit stop, beating Jehan Daruvala.

Robert Shwartzman recovered remarkably to finish seventh with the fastest lap to his name.

The Russian was given a drive-through penalty after he hit the back of Roy Nissany on the opening lap, forcing the Israeli driver into the barriers and thus out of the race.

The Ferrari junior went from 16th under the Safety Car to finish seventh come the chequered flag.

Theo Pourchaire finished eighth ahead of Drugovich, who like Lundgaard, picked up a five-second penalty for an infringement under the Safety Car.

This allowed Matteo Nannini to pick up the final point in tenth place.

Click here to find the full Formula 2 feature race results from Bahrain.