Mick Schumacher came away with the feature race win at Sochi to extend his lead at the top of the FIA Formula 2 Drivers’ Championship. The PREMA driver defeated the Carlin of Yuki Tsunoda and fellow title rival Callum Ilott over the 28 lap distance.
Pole sitter Tsunoda enjoyed a fantastic start, getting away cleanly from his front row teammate Jehan Daruvala, Schumacher however had one of his trademark electric starts and made his way through Daruvala to then challenge Tsunoda heading into Turn one but was successfully held off. As the front three got through the opening corner cleanly, there was drama in the pack as Jüri Vips tagged Pedro Piquet. The wounded Charouz Racing car left Christian Lundgaard with nowhere to go and collected the ART to end his race early and bring out the Safety Car.
Louis Delétraz, Felipe Drugovich and Roy Nissany were all caught up in the mayhem with the Deletraz forced into pitting for repairs while the others retired. Tsunoda got a good restart when the Safety Car pulled off and began to gently pull away from Schumacher. With the Carlin duo running well in the top three, the team decided to pit Daruvala first, with Tsunoda going on for one more lap along with Schumacher and Ilott. They all rejoined filling out the ninth, tenth and eleventh positions on track.
The early stops handed Jack Aitken the lead from fifth over Nikita Mazepin, but the Campos started to struggle for grip and was battling to hold the Hitech off. Mazepin made his move, but Aitken offered up a robust defence and forced the Russian wide and through the bollards. This allowed Guanyu Zhou to get past momentarily but Mazepin would re-take the position a few laps later.
While all this battling was going on up ahead, Tsunoda was catching having already fought up to P7 with 12 laps to go. Schumacher and Ilott were directly behind him, but Daruvala couldn’t make the same progress and was stuck in 11th, having lost track position in the pitlane.
Aitken pitted from the lead with 10 laps to go and was joined by Mazepin and Zhou a lap later. Tsunoda took back the race lead, but only briefly as Schumacher was in his slipstream and bombed past him on the main straight, daringly out-braking the Carlin and pulling a classic switch back move to pass into Turn Two. Tsunoda then had Ilott baring down on him and the Uni-Virtuosi driver duly followed his German rival through.
Chasing Schumacher, Ilott’s tyres began to drop off and was reeled back in by Tsunoda, who then made his move around the outside of Turn Three and back into second place. Ilott was then pressurised from Ghiotto as his tyres were getting worse but managed to cling on by the length of his front wing at the chequered flag. Schumacher had already crossed the line with a comfortable 6.3s lead over Tsunoda.
Ghiotto narrowly had to settle for fourth, followed by Daruvala and Aitken. Mazepin, Zhou and Marcus Armstrong followed, with Dan Ticktum completing the top ten.
Guanyu Zhou finally became a FIA Formula 2 race winner, in the red flagged shortened Sprint race after a collision between Luca Ghiotto and Jack Aitken.
Guanyu Zhou started from reverse grid pole alongside Mazepin and got a good start but was challenged into the first turn by Aitken but managed to hold the Campos. Mazepin did not get away cleanly and dropped back into the pack but not for long as the home driver got back past Aitken on lap two down the main straight.
Lap three produced a virtual safety car due to contact between Guilherme Samaia and HWA debutant Jake Hughes thus giving the rest of the field a brief rest. One driver who was in need of it was Ilott. After getting squeezed at Turn One on the first lap, he was hounded by Tsunoda through the opening laps but unfortunately Ilott eventually conceded the position.
After making another great start, Mick Schumacher started to pressure Aitken and on lap four made his move at the penultimate corner to move himself up into the podium spots but with a significant gap to the two leaders who were now only separated by 0.5 seconds. The lead battle unfortunately did not get to be settled under green flag.
On lap seven Aitken and Luca Ghiotto were battling in to Turn One where Ghiotto got through initially but suffered from a brief bit of oversteer on exit. This meant the Campos Racing car could get along side the Hitech going through the long left hander but there was a small bit of contact between the two cars which gave Aitken a puncture shooting him out wide into Ghiotto. Both then went hard into the barrier on the outside causing a red flag to the session. Thankfully both drivers were ok and walked away from their cars but the decision was taken to not restart the race.
This means that Guanyu Zhou comes away with his first win in Formula 2 followed by Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher. The result was counted back to lap five so Jack Aitken and Luca Ghiotto were classified fourth and fifth respectively with Tsunoda, Ilott and Dan Ticktum rounding out the top eight courtesy of a time penalty for Daruvala for not following race direction procedure after going wide at the first turn.
The weekend’s racing leaves Mick Schumacher leading with 191 points after half points were awarded for the Sprint race. Ilott leaves Sochi in second but 22 points behind on 169 heading into the last two Bahrain rounds. Tsunoda rounds out the top three on 147 points.
Next up is Bahrain for the last two rounds of the FIA Formula 2 championship with the last round on a new layout for the drivers to test their metal on.