Round 11 of the 2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship takes us to the Sochi Autodrom in Russia for the penultimate round of the series. With only four races left of the series, plenty of drivers and teams will battle out on track to capture every last point to help their championship positions. With the action in Russia set to take place, here is your run down over what to expect ahead in Sochi.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME IN RUSSIA?
The series last went to Russia back in 2015, when the series was once named GP2. The first race saw Alexander Rossi and Racing Engineering secure victory ahead of Pierre Gasly and Stoffel Vandoorne, who captured enough points ahead of Rossi to be crowned GP2 champion. The start of the race saw a dramatic accident by Artem Markelov, who clipped his rear wheel with a barrier whilst using the run off, which caused multiple cars to take avoiding action.
The sprint race saw New Zealand driver Richie Stanaway in the Status Grand Prix car claimed victory in what would be his last race in the series. He held off Rio Haryanto and Italian driver Raffaele Marciello to claim his second win of the year.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE LAST ROUND IN ITALY?
The feature race saw Russian Time‘s Tadasuke Makino deliver one of the shocks of the season as he came from fourteenth on the grid to his first F2 win. The Japanese driver started the race on the alternative strategy on the medium tyre and immediately set the pace, taking control of the race lead by the fifth lap. Followed behind him was Artem Markelov, making it a Russian Time one-two and Alexander Albon in third.
In the sprint race, it was championship leader George Russell who claimed victory ahead of Markelov. The Russian led majority of the race before a mistake allowed the ART driver passed to extend his lead in the championship. Carlin Motorsport driver Sérgio Sette Câmara claimed the final podium spot.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK OUT FOR THIS YEAR?
Russia could see a George Russell be crowned FIA Formula 2 champion this weekend. The British driver currently has a 22 point deficit over second place Lando Norris with four races left to go. Russell can win the championship if he out scores Norris by 26 points, with 48 points available from this weekend.
Russian Time will celebrate their home race this weekend, as will their driver Artem Markelov. The Russian is still in the championship battle, but is down in fourth place and is 59 points away from leader Russell. Sochi has not been a kind track from Markelov, with his best result only being twelfth in the 2014 and 2015 GP2 sprint race. Markelov will also have the chance to drive a Formula 1 car this weekend on home soil as he will take part in Free Practice 1 with Renault Sport Formula One Team.
Markelov will not be alone in F2 who will do FP1 duties in Formula 1 this weekend. Lando Norris and Nicholas Latifi will join the Russian out on track this weekend. Norris will drive with McLaren F1 Team as he continues his preparation into F1 next year whilst Latifi will be back behind the wheel with the Racing Point Force India F1 Team.
Two changes have been made to the line for the grid heading into the final two rounds. Roberto Merhi returns to F2 after he was dropped by MP Motorsport for Dorian Boccalacci back in Belgium. The Spaniard will race with Campos Vexatec Racing in place for Roy Nissany. MP will promote Niko Kari from their GP3 Series team to F2 and will partner alongside Boccalacci for the final two races. The Finnish driver will replace Ralph Boschung for the remainder of the year.
Lando Norris will need to outscore and deliver this weekend in Sochi in order to keep his championship hopes alive for the final race in Abu Dhabi. The British driver hasn’t claimed victory since the first race of the year in Bahrain, whilst Russell has been on the top step of the podium five times. It’ll be a tough challenge for the McLaren junior driver to keep his championship chances alive, but he has proven he can race after some consistent points and podium finishes have kept him within the title fight.
Carlin could wrap up the team’s championship this weekend if they continue to outscore ART Grand Prix this weekend. The British team are ahead by 58 points and if Norris and Sette Câmara keep up the team’s consistent points scoring over Russell and Jack Aitken, the team will create a healthy gap over the French team as they hope to win their first F2 Teams title in their first year back in the series. Elsewhere in the championship, DAMS have a healthy gap to fourth place Russian Time whilst fifth place is being contested between Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing and Charouz Racing System. Prema currently are ahead with 184 points to their name, ten more that Charouz.
WHAT IS THE SCHEDULE FOR THIS WEEKEND?
FRIDAY 28TH SEPTEMBER
Practice: 11:00AM (UK Time)/1:OOPM (Sochi Time)
Qualifying: 2:55PM (UK Time)/4:55PM (Sochi Time)
SATURDAY 29TH SEPTEMBER
Feature Race: 2:45PM (UK Time)/4:45PM (Sochi Time)
SUNDAY 30TH SEPTEMBER
Sprint Race: 9:25AM (UK Time)/11:20AM (Sochi Time)
WHERE CAN I WATCH THE FORMULA 2 RACES?
You can watch the session lives from the FIA Formula 2 championship on Sky Sports F1 throughout the weekend in the UK and Ireland. Re-runs of the races will be shown over the week. The Feature race for Russia will be broadcasted 20 minutes later than the race start time on Sky Sports F1.
HOW CAN I KEEP UP WITH ALL OF THE ACTION OVER THE WEEKEND?
The Checkered Flag will provide the latest news and updates from 2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship this weekend and throughout the season.