De Vries edges closer to title with pole for F2 Feature Race in Sochi

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

Nyck de Vries has put himself within touching distance of clinching the 2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship by taking pole position for the Feature Race at the Sochi Autodrom, with the addition of four championship points.

Drivers went into the session worried about the weather, as a 60% chance of rain was predicted at the start. However, the rain would ultimately stay away throughout the thirty minutes.

Carrying through his form the Practice session earlier this morning, Nicholas Latifi was the best of the drivers on the first set of representative times on a 1:48.060, half a tenth clear of his championship rival de Vries in second. Callum Ilott was up to third and another two tenths adrift, with Sérgio Sette Câmara, Nikita Mazepin, Luca Ghiotto, Louis Delétraz, Guanyu Zhou, Sean Gelael and Jordan King.

Jack Aitken meanwhile did not set a representative lap time until later on in the session due to contact with Giuliano Alesi that saw Campos Racing driver return to the pits for a new front wing. The incident is under investigation by the stewards.

Sette Câmara attempted to better his time on his first set of the ultrasoft tyres but locked-up into Turn Thirteen and was down from fourth to seventh a few minutes later. Aitken though, set his time to go sixth fastest, with Ghiotto and Mazepin leaping up to third and fifth respectively.

The top ten at the half-way point with all the drivers still to do their second runs were Latifi quickest on a 1:47.966, de Vries was second close behind in front of Ghiotto, Ilott, Mazepin, Aitken, Sette Câmara, Zhou, Delétraz and Mick Schumacher.

Nobuharu Matsushita was first driver to head out, albeit with a track to himself before the others returned to the circuit. The Japanese driver made a drastic improvement to move up from thirteenth to sixth position, four tenths off pole.

With the track improving and the majority of the drivers bettering their lap times, de Vries pulled out a mesmerising time of 1:47.440 to leapfrog Latifi by over a quarter of a second to take pole position for Saturday’s Feature Race.

The returnee and 2017 Formula 2 runner-up Artem Markelov will line up sixteenth for BWT Arden.

Nyck de Vries has extended his championship lead to sixty-three points, meaning that if the Dutchman increases his margin by a further two points over Latifi and therefore sixty-five points clear of everyone else by the end of the Feature Race, then he will be become FIA Formula 2 champion before the Sprint Race on Sunday.

Tomorrow’s Feature Race begins at 16:45 (GMT+3).

2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship - Sochi Autodrom - Qualifying Classification

14Nyck de VriesNEDART Grand Prix1:47.440
26Nicholas LatifiCANDAMS+0.260
311Callum IlottGBRSauber Junior Team by Charouz+0.297
48Luca GhiottoITAUNI-Virtuosi Racing+0.327
57Guanyu ZhouCHIUNI-Virtuosi Racing+0.403
65Sérgio Sette CâmaraBRADAMS+0.591
71Louis DelétrazSWICarlin+0.748
83Nikita MazepinRUSART Grand Prix+0.786
916Jordan KingGBRMP Motorsport+0.880
102Nobuharu MatsushitaJAPCarlin+0.956
119Mick SchumacherGERPREMA Racing+1.004
1215Jack AitkenGBRCampos Racing+1.037
1310Sean GelaelIDOPREMA Racing+1.127
1420Giuliano AlesiFRATrident+1.410
1521Ralph BoschungSWITrident+1.440
1622Artem MarkelovRUSBWT Arden+1.804
1712Matevos IsaakyanRUSSauber Junior Team by Charouz+2.057
1818Tatiana CalderónCOLBWT Arden+2.815
1914Marino SatoJAPCampos Racing+2.871
2017Mahaveer RaghunathanINDMP Motorsport+4.509

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