|2018 Sochi Feature Race|
The Sochi Autodrom with DRS.
|Date||29 September 2018|
|Event||2018 VTB Russian Grand Prix|
|Location||Sochi Autodrom Sochi, Russia|
|Lap length||5.848 km (3.634 mi)|
|Distance||28 laps / 163.744 km (101.746 km)|
|Pole Sitter||Nyck de Vries|
|Driver||Nyck de Vries|
|Time||1:51.929 on lap 8|
|Alexander Albon||Nicholas Latifi||Nyck de Vries|
|2018 Monza Sprint Race||2018 Sochi Sprint Race|
The 2018 Sochi Feature Race, otherwise known as the 2018 Sochi Race 1, was the twenty-first race of the 2018 FIA Formula Two Championship, staged at the Sochi Autodrom on 29 September 2018. The race, staged in support of the 2018 VTB Russian Grand Prix, saw Alexander Albon claim a shock win, which moved the Thai racer into title contention.
Qualifying had seen Nyck de Vries claim pole, the Dutchman completing a stunning lap with a minute to spare in a session that had been dominated by Championship leader George Russell. Russell himself was unable to significantly improve on his final run to leave him second, only for his main title rival Lando Norris to grab second a few seconds later. Albon, meanwhile, would start the race from fifth.
The start would see de Vries launch into an early lead, with a poor start from Norris causing the rest of the field to bunch up. Russell duly blasted clear into second ahead of his rival, while Albon followed the ART Grand Prix racer through to claim third as Norris slumped to seventh.
Come the end of the opening lap it was still de Vries leading from Russell and Albon, with daylight between themselves and Nicholas Latifi. Elsewhere the biggest winner on the opening lap would be Artem Markelov, whom had already claimed five positions despite using the harder soft Pirelli tyres.
Markelov would pick off more drivers during the early stages, and duly broke into the top ten before the end of lap three, having started nineteenth. Out front, meanwhile, Albon sent his DAMS skating past Russell to claim second, just a tyre degradation began to bite those on the supersoft tyres.
Indeed, before Albon could catch onto the back of de Vries, he would be passed by Jack Aitken and Antonio Fuoco, who, like Markelov, had started on the softs. That prompted almost all of the supersoft runners to dive into the pits at the end of lap six, with Albon duly leaping ahead of de Vries to lead those on fresh tyres.
Out front, meanwhile, Markelov was making a hugely ambitious bid for victory, scything past Fuoco to claim the lead, before sprinting clear of the Italian over the following laps. However, those on fresh softs were running quicker, and by the time Markelov made his stop with nine Albon and co. were within ten seconds of the Russian racer.
Indeed, Markelov's race was over from that moment on, with a miserable pitstop costing Markelov almost ten seconds in the pits. He duly charged back through the field in the closing stages, with a brush with Maximilian Günther briefly causing a VSC as the German spun and stalled.
Out front, meanwhile, Albon was left to cruise to victory, building a ten second lead over de Vries before the chequered flag. de Vries himself, meanwhile, would slip behind the second DAMS of Latifi with three laps to go, while Russell claimed fourth. Norris, meanwhile, would fail to score after a rushed pitstop left him with a loose wheel and, ultimately, out of the race.
Formula Two headed to Russia for the eleventh pair of races in the 2018 campaign, supporting Formula One as usual. The Sochi Autodrom remained unchanged from both series' visits nineteen months earlier, with no additional DRS zones grafted onto the circuit.
In terms of the entry list there would be some changes towards the back of the field, with a new face joining the series, and an old face returning. The man to join the series would be GP3 Series racer Niko Kari, with the Finn earning a promotion to MP Motorsport's F2 team at the expense of Ralph Boschung. Elsewhere, their former driver Roberto Merhi made a return to the series, taking over the second Campos Racing seat after Roy Nissany's miserable season.
Elsewhere, the futures of several F2 drivers were revealed, with two high profile moves for two of the class of 2018. The most high profile of these would be Lando Norris, whom was set to join the McLaren F1 Team for 2019, replacing ex-F2 Champion Stoffel Vandoorne. The other move saw Alexander Albon move into the Formula E Championship, staying with his F2 employers DAMS as they partnered with Nissan for the fifth FE season.
Into the Championship and victory last time out in Monza had ensured that George Russell had extended his Championship lead, moving 22 points clear of Norris. Those two had remained the two main protagonists for the title, with Albon needing a strong weekend in Sochi if he was to remain in the title fight back in third. Elsewhere, Russian home-hero Artem Markelov had moved back ahead of Nyck de Vries, while Jack Aitken moved back into the top ten, level with Louis Delétraz.
Carlin had retained their lead in the Teams' Championship at the end of the Monza weekend, their advantage having effectively stayed at 60 points. ART Grand Prix had remained their closest challengers, having inched clear of compatriots DAMS in third with 32 points between them leaving Italy. Russian Time had retained fourth ahead of their home race, moving past the 200 point mark, while Pertamina Prema and Charouz Racing System had failed to score.
The full entry list for the 2018 Sochi Feature Race is displayed below:
Qualifying for the Feature race was staged after the conclusion of the second Formula One free practice session, with temperatures on the warm side in Sochi. The usual thirty minute shootout would be used to set the grid, with no penalties set to modify the order prior to the session. As for a target time the best drivers would expect to break into the 1:47.000s, after 1:48.000s had been the order of the day in practice.
Jack Aitken led the field out of the pits at the start of the session, and duly opened the running by setting the first flying lap. This, however, would be instantly beaten by Lando Norris, before George Russell claimed provisional pole by almost half a second. However, moments after Russell flashed to the top of the timesheets the entire session was brought to a halt, the red flag being thrown to recover Arjun Maini.
Indeed, having just recorded a slow reconnaissance lap the Indian racer managed to spin at turn six, and duly stalled. With the car coming to rest just a few metres from the racing line, the session was brought to an instant halt, allowing the marshals to drag the Trident away. Once that was out of the way the session resumed, with everyone bar Maini rejoining with their first set of tyres.
Nyck de Vries was the man to watch during the second phase of the session, the Dutchman setting a new fastest first sector. However, his pace faded badly over the rest of the lap, leaving the Dutchman shy of the pace set by Russell. Indeed, everyone bar Russell would struggle to equal their earlier times, although the Brit himself would manage to improve before the field dived in for fresh tyres.
Aitken again led the field onto the circuit, all on new Pirellis, with almost everyone instantly improving on their opening runs. Once again Russell was the exception, although this time the Brit was failing to improve, opening the door for others to challenge. Indeed, with just one more flying lap to go both Sérgio Sette Câmara and Alexander Albon moved into striking distance, although the battle was ultimately settled with a minute to go.
Ultimately it was de Vries whom landed the conquering blow, the Dutchman set three fastest sectors to record a 1:46.476, half a second clear of Russell's earlier effort. The Championship leader followed him through, but his improved effort of 1:46.839 left him three tenths shy of the Dutchman. That gap also allowed Russell's title rival Lando Norris to suddenly leap ahead, the Brit suddenly leaping into second after a quiet session.
The final qualifying result for the 2018 Sochi Feature Race is outlined below:
|2018 Sochi Feature Race Qualifying Result|
|1st||4||Nyck de Vries||Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing||1:46.476||—||1|
|3rd||8||George Russell||ART Grand Prix||1:46.839||+0.363s||3|
|6th||14||Luca Ghiotto||Campos Vexatec Racing||1:47.151||+0.675s||6|
|7th||2||Tadasuke Makino||Russian Time||1:47.372||+0.896s||7|
|8th||18||Sérgio Sette Câmara||Carlin||1:47.384||+0.908s||8|
|9th||7||Jack Aitken||ART Grand Prix||1:47.634||+1.158s||9|
|10th||11||Maximilian Günther||BWT Arden||1:47.743||+1.267s||10|
|11th||21||Antonio Fuoco||Charouz Racing System||1:47.774||+1.298s||11|
|12th||15||Roberto Merhi||Campos Vexatec Racing||1:47.854||+1.378s||12|
|14th||20||Louis Delétraz||Charouz Racing System||1:48.105||+1.629s||14|
|15th||3||Sean Gelael||Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing||1:48.154||+1.678s||15|
|16th*||10||Niko Kari||MP Motorsport||1:48.206||+1.730s||16|
|17th||12||Nirei Fukuzumi||BWT Arden||1:48.327||+1.851s||17|
|18th||9||Dorian Boccolacci||MP Motorsport||1:48.491||+2.015s||18|
|19th||1||Artem Markelov||Russian Time||1:48.568||+2.092s||19|
|107% Time: 1:53.929|
- * Ralph Boschung was handed a five place grid penalty for causing a collision at the 2018 Monza Sprint Race. However, with Boschung being replaced by Niko Kari the penalty was withheld until Boschung's next appearance.
- † Maini failed to set a time within 107% of the fastest, but was allowed to start at the stewards' discretion.
|Nyck de Vries||2|
|______________||Sérgio Sette Câmara|
The final classification of the 2018 Sochi Feature Race is displayed below:
|2018 Sochi Feature Race Race Result|
|Pos.||No.||Name||Team||Laps||Race Time||Fastest lap||Pts.|
|3rd||4||Nyck de Vries||Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing||28||+14.259s||1:51.929||21|
|4th||8||George Russell||ART Grand Prix||28||+17.468s||1:52.908||12|
|5th||18||Sérgio Sette Câmara||Carlin||28||+22.953s||1:52.824||10|
|6th||21||Antonio Fuoco||Charouz Racing System||28||+34.899s||1:54.335||8|
|8th||12||Nirei Fukuzumi||BWT Arden||28||+43.463s||1:54.405||4|
|9th||15||Roberto Merhi||Campos Vexatec Racing||28||+46.334s||1:53.672||2|
|10th||2||Tadasuke Makino||Russian Time||28||+46.461s||1:53.326||1|
|11th||1||Artem Markelov||Russian Time||28||+53.455s||1:53.137|
|12th||20||Louis Delétraz||Charouz Racing System||28||+56.606s||1:53.135|
|13th||9||Dorian Boccolacci||MP Motorsport||28||+1:00.950||1:53.116|
|14th||7||Jack Aitken||ART Grand Prix||28||+1:06.522||1:53.938|
|15th||16||Arjun Maini||Trident||27||+1 Lap||1:51.988|
|16th*||11||Maximilian Günther||BWT Arden||26||Accident||1:53.025|
|Ret||10||Niko Kari||MP Motorsport||23||Retired||1:53.729|
|Ret||14||Luca Ghiotto||Campos Vexatec Racing||1||Damage||—|
|DNS†||3||Sean Gelael||Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing||—|
- Bold indicates a driver started from pole.
- Italics indicate that a driver set fastest lap.
- * Günther was still classified despite retiring as he had completed 90% of the race distance.
- † Gelael was unable to start after a clutch failure.
- Second pole position for Nyck de Vries.
- Debut race for Niko Kari.
- Fourth career victory for Alexander Albon.
- DAMS claimed their eighth victory as an entrant in Formula Two.
- Also their 33rd win at GP2/F2 level.
- Maiden points finish for Alessio Lorandi.
Victory for Alexander Albon launched the young Thai driver into title contention, moving into second ahead of Lando Norris. However, Albon remained thirty points behind Championship leader George Russell, who could all but wrap up the title with a round to spare during the Sprint Race if things went his way. Elsewhere, Nyck de Vries moved ahead of Artem Markelov to complete the top five, while Roberto Merhi moved back ahead of Maximilian Günther.
In the Teams' Championship it was still advantage Carlin, with the British squad still holding a healthy 56 point margin. Behind, ART Grand Prix had retained second, but were just a point ahead of their compatriots DAMS, with momentum with the third placed team. It was a similar story in the fight between fourth placed Russian Time and their pursuers Pertamina Prema, with no other significant changes to the order.
Only point scoring drivers and teams are shown.
Images and Videos:
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 'FIA Formula 2 Championship 2018 Season Calendar Unveiled', fiaformula2.com, (FIA Formula 2, 06/11/2017), http://www.fiaformula2.com/News-Room/News/2017/11_November/FIA-Formula-2-Championship-2018-season-calendar-unveiled/, (Accessed 13/06/2018)
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 'ALBON WINS SOCHI FEATURE RACE FOR DAMS ONE-TWO', fiaformula2.com, (FIA Formula Two, 29/09/2018), http://www.fiaformula2.com/News-Room/News/2018/09_September/Albon-wins-Sochi-Feature-Race-for-DAMS-one-two/, (Accessed 29/09/2018)
- ↑ 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 'DE VRIES STREAKS TO POLE IN SOCHI', fiaformula2.com, (FIA Formula Two, 28/09/2018), http://www.fiaformula2.com/News-Room/News/2018/09_September/De-Vries-streaks-to-pole-in-Sochi/, (Accessed 28/09/2018)
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 'KARI STEPS UP TO F2 WITH MP MOTORSPORT', fiaformula2.com, (FIA Formula Two, 25/09/2018), http://www.fiaformula2.com/News-Room/News/2018/09_September/Kari-steps-up-to-F2-with-MP-Motorsport1/, (Accessed 25/09/2018)
- ↑ 'MERHI JOINS CAMPOS VEXATEC RACING FOR REMAINDER OF 2018', fiaformula2.com, (FIA Formula Two, 25/09/2018), http://www.fiaformula2.com/News-Room/News/2018/09_September/Merhi-joins-Campos-Vexatec-Racing-for-remainder-of-2018/, (Accessed 25/09/2018)
- ↑ 'McLaren: British teenager Lando Norris to replace Stoffel Vandoorne', bbc.co.uk/sport, (British Broadcasting Company, 03/09/2018), https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1/45397134, (Accessed 03/09/2018)
- ↑ 'Buemi and Albon lined up for Nissan e.dams debut season', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 20/09/2018), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2018/september/buemi-and-albon-lined-up-for-nissan-edams-debut-season/, (Accessed 20/09/2018)
- ↑ 'Teams and Drivers', fiaformula2.com, (FIA Formula 2, 2018), http://www.webcitation.org/6ySMzYNSv, (Accessed 14/06/2018)
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 'Formula 2 2018 Results: Sochi Autodrom', fiaformula2.com, (FIA Formula 2, 2018), http://www.fiaformula2.com/Results/?raceid=993&seasonid=175, (Accessed 29/09/2018)
- ↑ 'BOSCHUNG PENALISED FOR GELAEL COLLISION', fiaformula2.com, (FIA Formula Two: 02/09/2018), http://www.fiaformula2.com/News-Room/News/2018/09_September/Boschung-penalised-for-Gelael-collision/, (Accessed 02/09/2018)