F2: De Vries takes Title in Sochi as Ghiotto Wins Shortened Sprint Race

Nyck de Vries shows his delight after winning the 2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship for ART Grand Prix. Copyright FIA Formula 2 Championship.

ART’s Nyck de Vries secured the Formula 2 Drivers Championship after winning the Feature Race at the Sochi Autodrom.

A shortened Sprint Race saw Luca Ghiotto win for Uni-Virtuosi.

De Vries in Pole Position for Title

Nyck de Vries after claiming Pole Position at the Sochi Autodrom. Copyright FIA Formula 2 Championship.

A late effort by Nyck de Vries saw the Dutchman take Pole in qualifying. Title rival Nicholas Latifi was second place, ahead of Charouz’s Callum Ilott in third.

In the Feature Race, De Vries had a fantastic start, with Latifi holding onto second ahead of Ilott. Luca Ghiotto, who started on the medium tyre, moved up to fourth at the expense of team-mate Guanyu Zhou.

Prema’s Mick Schumacher was another strong starter, gaining four places to climb into seventh place. At the end of Lap 1, the Virtual Safety Car was activated as returning driver Artem Markelov stopped on track.

When racing resumed, De Vries maintain first place, with Ghiotto defended fourth from Zhou. Additionally, Schumacher was looking for a way past Louis Deletraz in the battle over sixth place.

Zhou however, along with Giuliano Alesi, were handed five-second penalties for not re-joining the track properly on Lap 1.

Ghiotto on the Move

Ilott then started to struggle on the super-softs tyres, which allowed Ghiotto to close up and claim third. Shortly after, Ghiotto continued his charge and seized second from Latifi.

In contrast, Ilott continued to fall back down the field, dropping to ninth.

Ghiotto then set his sights on the race lead and got the better of De Vries into Turn 10. As the Italian pulled away, De Vries started to fall back into the clutches of Latifi and Schumacher.

At the end of lap 6, de Vries and Latifi pitted along with Zhou, Deletraz, Ilott and Sergio Sette Camara.

De Vries and Latifi re-joined in tenth and 11th, as Ghiotto led from Schumacher, Nikita Mazepin, Nobuharu Matsushita and Jordan King.

Schumacher’s Race Goes Up in Smoke

Schumacher and Mazepin battled over second, with the latter eventually coming out on top  on Lap 9. By lap 12, De Vries and Latifi were making progress as they moved into eighth and ninth.

Ghiotto’s lead was extended to 3.8 seconds over Mazepin with Schumacher a further 2.4 seconds adrift.

A lock-up for Schumacher into Turn 13 saw him come under pressure from Matsushita and lost the position.

A few laps later, he started to push again and challenge Matsushita, but saw smoke periodically rise from the rear of the German’s car.

Despite this, Schumacher soldiered on

Back at the front, Ghiotto continued to push and held a ten second advantage over Mazepin, who was falling into the clutches of Matsushita and Schumacher.

On Lap 20, Schumacher pitted to retired, as Matsushita overtook Mazepin for second.

De Vries Pulls Away From Latifi

At this point, De Vries and Latifi were fifth and sixth respectively, with Alesi the next car up the road.

By Lap 22, De Vries passed the Frenchman for fourth and started to leave Latifi behind. With the title on the line, Latifi knew he had to finish ahead of De Vries but was under pressure from Deletraz.

Matsushita eventually pitted at the end of Lap 23, with Ghiotto doing the same one lap later.

This handed the lead back to De Vries, with Latifi still holding second from Deletraz, with Ghiotto rejoining in fourth.

De Vries was doing everything right up-front, with a three second lead over Latifi and on course to take the championship.

However, Ghiotto was looking to spoil the celebrations.

Now with significantly fresher tyres, Ghiotto easily made his way past Deletraz into third place and immediately chased after Latifi.

De Vries Becomes Champion

At the start of the final lap, Ghiotto still hadn’t made his way past Latifi and began to struggle with tyre wear. As a result, Deletraz managed to squeeze by to snatch third place.

This gave Nyck De Vries a clear run to the flag to win in Sochi, and with it, the Formula 2 title.

De Vries was five seconds clear at the finish and is the third champion of the modern F2 era, alongside Charles Leclerc and George Russell.

Latifi and Deletraz rounded out the podium with Ghiotto claiming the fastest lap in fourth, ahead of fifth-placed Camara.

An ecstatic De Vries climbed out of the car and celebrated with his team, while Latifi and Deletraz congratulated the new champion.

Matsushita finished in sixth ahead of Campos’ Jack Aitken and Mazepin.

Mazepin Causes Chaos in Sochi

Nikita Mazepin quickly went from hero to zero in his home race at Sochi. Copyright FIA Formula 2 Championship.

Nikita Mazepin started the Sprint Race in reverse-grid pole. However, before the start, there was a slight delay after Marino Sato stalled on the grid.

Consequently, the Japanese driver was forced to start from the pit lane.

When the lights went out, Mazepin defended an initial attack from Jack Aitken on the long apporach towards Turn 1.

Both drivers then braked too long late and took to the run-off area. As Aitken attempted to return to the track via the designated route, Mazepin did not.

Because of this, Mazepin cut across Aitken and caused a collision, which sent the home-favourite into the path of Nobuharu Matsushita. A second collision ensued and sent them slamming into the wall.

Due to the nature of the crash, the red flag was brought out and the cars line-up behind the safety car in the pit-lane.

Ghiotto Leads As Camara Feels Stewards’ Wrath

Due to time constraints with the forthcoming Formula One action, the race was shortened to 15 laps.

When racing got back under way, Luca Ghiotto led from Callum Ilott and newly crowned champion, Nyck De Vries.

At Turn 1, Ghiotto sprinted away, as De Vries moved into second ahead of Ilott. The pair went side-by-side through turn 2 with the Dutchman successfully holding onto the position.

Their scrap also allowed Ghiotto to build up a gap of nearly two seconds.

Behind them, the two DAMS cars were fighting over fourth when Sergio Sette Camara receieved a five-second penalty for gaining an unfair advantage.

Furthmore, Louis Deletraz was also handed a ten-second penalty for causing a collision.

Once again, Schumacher produced a great start. Starting 19th after his Feature Race retirement, moved into tenth and hunted down Guliano Alesi.

Ghiotto Holds Off Resurgent De Vries

Luca Ghiotto celebrates his victory in the Formula 2 Sprint Race at Sochi. Copyright FIA Formula 2 Championship.

Having preserved his degrading tyres, Ghiotto’s lead quickly evaporated, with De Vries and Ilott within two seconds of the Italian.

Despite the advantage of the DRS, Ghiotto managed to stay ahead and take victory with De Vries and Ilott in second and third.

Latifi and Guanyu Zhou profited from Camara’s penalty to inherit fourth and fifth places respectively. Behind them, Sean Gelael, Alesi, Jordan King and Artem Markelov rounded-out the top 10.