Liam Lawson took his and Carlin's first win of the F2 season in the Saudi Arabian sprint race ahead of fellow Red Junior junior Juri Vips, who pipped Jake Hughes for P2 on the line.
Reverse grid pole-sitter Dennis Hauger led away from a clean start as Van Amersfoort's Hughes bogged down off the line from his second place on the grid, dropping down to P4 behind Trident's Calan Williams and DAMS' Ayumu Iwasa.
The safety car was deployed on lap two as the Van Amersfoort of Amaury Cordeel smashed into the barrier at turn 12, the race resuming with six laps run.
Hauger left it late on the restart as he controlled the pace but as the field bunched together Williams Academy driver Logan Sargeant and Alpine Academy driver Jack Doohan came together before reaching the line, leading to a redeployment of the safety car.
There was confusion for race leader Hauger as race direction initially said that cars would go through the pit lane before immediately declaring it closed, with Hauger taking to the pit lane and dropping to P12.
Adding insult to injury, the PREMA driver was handed a 10-second stop/go penalty.
New race leader Williams also left it late with his restart but still lost out to Hughes into turn one, with Lawson following the Van Amersfoort past Williams for P2.
Lawson then closed the gap on Hughes and made the move into the lead with only three laps to go, moments before the virtual safety car was deployed following a spin for the Hitech of Marcus Armstrong.
The VSC was ended with one left to run as Lawson completed the race untroubled at the front, while behind him the Hitech of Vips outdragged Hughes to the line for P2, Hughes still taking his maiden F2 podium.
F2 Saudi Arabian sprint results
1. Liam Lawson [Carlin] 47:55.487
2. Juri Vips [Hitech] +3.166
3. Jake Hughes [Van Amersfoort] +3.224
4. Felipe Drugovich [MP Motorsport] +4.846
5. Calan Williams [Trident] +6.277
6. Richard Verschoor [Trident] +12.121
7. Ayumu Iwasa [DAMS] +13.520
8. Ralph Boschung [Campos] +14.454
9. Jehan Daruvala [PREMA] +15.237
10. Marino Sato [Virtuosi] +16.040
11. Roy Nissany [DAMS] +17.390
12. Enzo Fittipaldi [Charouz] +17.441
13. Clement Novalak [MP Motorsport] +18.739
14. Frederik Vesti [ART Grand Prix] +20.298
15. Theo Pourchaire [ART Grand Prix] +20.569
16. Olli Caldwell [Campos] +25.495
17. Dennis Hauger [PREMA] +51.495
Marcus Armstrong [Hitech] DNF
Logan Sargeant [Carlin] DNF
Jack Doohan [Virtuosi] DNF
Amaury Cordeel [Van Amersfoort] DNF
Cem Bolukbasi [Charouz] DNS