De Vries crowned F2 champion with victory in Sochi

by Tom Cairns
Nyck de Vries - ART Grand Prix in the 2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship - Sochi Autodrom - Feature Race - Parc Ferme

Nyck de Vries was crowned the 2019 FIA Formula 2 champion after taking the Feature Race victory at the Sochi Autodrom from pole position.

The Dutchman went into the race sixty-three points ahead of Nicholas Latifi, with Luca Ghiotto, Sérgio Sette Câmara and Jack Aitken still mathematically in the running for the Drivers’ Championship.

The top five on the grid remained in the same positions for the opening few laps, with de Vries leading Latifi, Callum Ilott, Ghiotto and Guanyu Zhou, who took the shortcut at turns two and three before re-joining the circuit in fifth. The Chinese pilot would be penalised five seconds later on for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

The Virtual Safety Car was deployed at the end of the first lap due to Artem Markelov stopping his BWT Arden out on the circuit at Turn Eight.

The VSC ended before Ghiotto, on the alternate strategy, getting past Ilott who had started on the softer compound. The Italian was up to third on Lap Four before overtaking Latifi at Turn Thirteen on the same tour.

The UNI-Virtuosi Racing driver would find his way past de Vries on Lap Five, a lap before the pit window had opened. De Vries, Latifi, Zhou, Louis Delétraz, Ilott, Sette Câmara and Jack Aitken all pitted at the same time to make their mandatory stops at the end of Lap Six.

Ghiotto, Mick Schumacher, Nikita Mazepin, Nobuharu Matsushita and Jordan King are amongst those on the alternate strategy and headed the front temporarily.

Mazepin and Schumacher tussled over second position on Lap Eight. The ART Grand Prix driver was ahead briefly by passing into Turn Two before the German retaliated and was back around the outside through the long, sweeping right-hander of Turn Four. Mazepin would ultimately make the move stick on the next lap.

Luca Ghiotto was five seconds clear of everyone else by the end of Lap Nine. Four laps later and Schumacher went too deep into Turn Thirteen and that allowed fourth place Matsushita to close in before moving ahead on Lap Fourteen.

The Japanese driver would make a mistake of his own a couple of laps afterwards at the penultimate corner but he managed to keep hold of third place.

Following Matsushita’s error, Schumacher had smoke pouring from the back of his PREMA Racing car, causing concerns to Jordan King behind, who was unhappy with the German’s persistence to continue with oil leaking onto the Brit’s helmet, reporting on the radio that he was struggling to breathe. Lap Nineteen was the German’s last though and came into the pits and retiring after a valiant drive.

The next tour saw Matsushita line up home-hero Mazepin into Turn Two, and had only Ghiotto ahead of him, albeit eleven seconds in front. The Carlin driver was into the pits with five laps to go to put on the super-soft tyres and re-joined in seventh behind Sette Câmara.

Ghiotto was in on the next lap and some solid work from his UNI-Virtuosi pit crew got him back out in fourth behind Delétraz with only four laps left. Mazepin came in at the same time and was back out in seventh behind Matsushita.

Lap Twenty-Six and Delétraz was under threat from the fast-charging Ghiotto, and the Italian was up to third position. However, with his tyres drastically degrading, the Swiss driver would find his way back through in front of the UNI-Virtuosi driver on the final lap going into Turn Thirteen.

Further up front though, Nyck de Vries took the chequered flag for the fourth time this season, nearly five seconds clear of Nicholas Latifi. With the championship gap now seventy points, it is mathematically impossible for the Dutchman to be caught.

Nikita Mazepin, who had finished eighth will be reverse-grid pole for Sunday’s Sprint Race, while Luca Ghiotto took the extra two points for the fastest lap.

2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship - Sochi Autodrom - Feature Race Classification

14Nyck de VriesNEDART Grand Prix52:12.087
26Nicholas LatifiCANDAMS+4.918
31Louis DelétrazSWICarlin+5.995
48Luca GhiottoITAUNI-Virtuosi Racing+7.607
55Sérgio Sette CâmaraBRADAMS+11.378
62Nobuharu MatsushitaJAPCarlin+20.364
715Jack AitkenGBRCampos Racing+27.403
83Nikita MazepinRUSART Grand Prix+28.572
911Callum IlottGBRSauber Junior Team by Charouz+32.394
107Guanyu ZhouCHIUNI-Virtuosi Racing+33.756
1110Sean GelaelIDOPREMA Racing+43.365
1216Jordan KingGBRMP Motorsport+47.493
1320Giuliano AlesiFRATrident+48.620
1421Ralph BoschungSWITrident+59.021
1518Tatiana CalderónCOLBWT Arden+69.884
1614Marino SatoJAPCampos Racing+106.218
1717Mahaveer RaghunathanINDMP Motorsport+1 Lap
1812Matevos IsaakyanRUSSauber Junior Team by Charouz+1 Lap
DNF9Mick SchumacherGERPREMA RacingDNF
DNF22Artem MarkelovRUSBWT ArdenDNF

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