This Time Last Year | Sochi, Russia 2018

The Russian Grand Prix was the 11th round out of the 12 in the 2018 Formula 2 Championship, where we saw George Russell leading out to Alex Albon by 36 points, sitting comfortably with 248 points, whilst Lando Norris sat in third with 197 points.

Qualifying

Norris starts the first push lap of the session, finishing with a 1:47.524, but Russell already seeming to beat it within the first two sectors to set a 1:47.031, in which he crossed the 0.493 seconds quicker. De Vries puts himself into 2nd, beating Norris too, whilst Delétraz settles for 4th. Arjun Maini spins around the exit of turn 13, stalling it and red flagging the race to retrieve the Trident car. The drivers go racing once again. Albon starts his first push lap, but already was 0.5 seconds out to Russell by the second sector, however he takes 4th, past Deletraz. De Vries sets the fastest sector one, but couldn’t beat Russell’s first lap time, thus staying in second. Incredibly, Russell sets the fastest lap of the session again, this time setting all purples in every sector to pull a 1:46.865. Sette Câmara moves up to 3rd, past his teammate, but Albon sets the fastest sector two, to move De Vries into third. putting a 1:47.039. However, De Vries wasn’t backing down as he sets the session best sector one to put a 1:46.476 lap, beating Russell. Latifi moves himself to 3rd pushing his teammate into fourth, missing out by 0.414 seconds. In the closing stages of the session, George Russell couldn’t beat De Vries’ lap time, settling for what would of been second before Norris sets a lap time 0.14 seconds quicker than his, putting the Guildford born driver behind the Dutchman.

The grid is as follows:
1. Nyck de Vries – Prema Racing – 1:46.476
2. Lando Norris – Carlin – 1:46.696
3. George Russell – ART Grand Prix – 1:46.839
4. Nicholas Latifi – DAMS – 1:46.890
5. Alexander Albon – DAMS – 1:47.039
6. Luca Ghiotto – Campos Vexatec Racing – 1:47.151
7. Tadasuke Makino – Russian Time – 1:47.372
8. Sérgio Sette Câmara – Carlin – 1:47.384
9. Jack Aitken – ART Grand Prix – 1:47.634
10. Maximilian Günther – BWT Arden – 1:47.743
11. Antonio Fuoco – Charouz Racing System – 1:47.774
12. Roberto Merhi – Campos Vexatec Racing – 1:47.854
13. Alessio Lorandi – Trident – 1:48.006
14. Louis Delétraz – Charouz Racing System – 1:48.105
15. Sean Gelael – Prema Racing – 1:48.154
16. Niko Kari – MP Motorsport – 1:48.206
17. Nirei Fukuzumi – BWT Arden – 1:48.327
18. Dorian Boccolacci – MP Motorsport – 1:48.491
19. Artem Markelov – Russian Time – 1:48.568
20. No Lap Time Arjun Maini – Trident

Race One

Nyck de Vries stays ahead for his second pole position of the season, but unfortunately for Norris, he loses out massively off the grid slot. Ghiotto and Makino come together, where the Italian driver ends up tapping the wall, but manages to continue. Russell manages to move up to 2nd as well, though Latifi was eyeing up a move on him, whilst behind Norris is being challenged by Fuoco in 5th. Lorandi manages to capitalise on the start to move up to 6th, starting 11th. Similarly, Markelov moved his way up to 9th after overtaking both Merhi and Fukuzumi in one corner and then into 8th the following lap.

Fuoco manages to push his way past Norris for 5th around the long left hander and does so, whilst Aitken sees an opportunity and tries to do the same. Unfortunately for the Carlin driver, he goes wide, allowing the then Renault backed driver to move up to 6th. At the back of the grid, Günther spun round, dropping him to the back of the grid.

Fuoco and Aitken both pass Latifi for 6th after he locks up the front wheels followed by Markelov who also got past the Canadian driver too. At the front, Russell and Albon are fighting each other for 2nd, where the Thai driver is trying to defend hard against the ART car of Russell. Aitken and Markelov both opted for the alternative strategy, so whilst all the front runners’ tyres were losing performance, those two were flying up the grid, sitting 4th and 5th respectively.

Fuoco got past Albon for 2nd, whilst Markelov gets past Aitken for 3rd. The Russian driver was on the move for 3rd into the first corner and brakes late enough to take the position by the second corner.

The Prema driver of Fuoco passes his teammate for the race lead, whilst Markelov passes de Vries around the outside to now sit second. The Dutch driver goes into the pits for brand new tyres, joined by Albon, Russell, Norris and many other drivers. Unfortunately for Norris, he entered the wrong pit box and then followed with an unsafe release since his right front tyre was not attached when he left, therefore ending his race.

Markelov started pulling a gap to Fuoco in second, whilst also trying to pull a gap to Albon, who was holding onto the provisional lead in terms of those who have pitted. De Vries tried to get past the Thai driver, but his robust defense on track allowed him to keep the position from the Dutchman.

Fuoco started falling back as Kari moves up to second. Despite this, the Finnish driver sits 7 seconds behind the Russian driver, who is pulling a large gap. Technical issues ensued when Markelov’s radio was not working, with the team having to result in the pit board to indicate when to pit. Meanwhile for Albon, he was starting to catch the back of the train of drivers who are yet to pit, with Maini ahead of him. It didn’t take long for him to pass, moving up to 7th, now had Aitken and Boccolacci in front.

Crucially, Nyck de Vries couldn’t get past Maini like Albon did, losing time to the Thai driver out ahead. Meanwhile, Albon was picking through the alternative strategy drivers, moving his way to 4th, whilst de Vries was stuck in 8th. Boccolacci dropped from 5th to 11th after his tyres dropped off. Unfortunately for the Dutch driver, he had contact with Maini, with the Indian driver going off. Meanwhile, Markelov pits from the lead, allowing Fuoco to inherit the lead. Sadly, Russian Time struggled with taking off the tyres from the Russian’s car, leaving him with a very slow pitstop time, putting him out into 11th.

Fukuzumi and Albon were going side by side into the second corner, but since Nirei had 22 lap old tyres, it was a breeze for the Thai driver to get past. Behind, Latifi and Russell were fighting for 5th, in which the Canadian driver improves and now had Latifi ahead of him.

Fuoco pits for brand new tyres after a 23 lap stint, allowing Albon to take the lead of the race. De Vries sat in 2nd, though was 8 seconds behind the British-Thai driver and had a challenging Canadian driver of Latifi behind. A large lockup from de Vries allowed Latifi to close in the gap and then take advantage of the situation to move up to 2nd.

A spin for Günther, bringing out the virtual safety car to retrieve the pink Arden car on track. Albon crossed the line with a gap of 11.4 seconds to Latifi in second, though gave DAMS a 1-2 in the feature race. De Vries kept 3rd from Russell as the British driver couldn’t catch up to the Dutchman for the final podium position.

Roberto Merhi finished in 8th, but received a 5 second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage, thus dropping him into 9th behind Nirei Fukuzumi. Simiarly, Louis Delétraz finished in 9th, but gained a 10 second penalty for crossing the pit entry line and then a further 5 second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage, putting him into 12th.

The feature race results are as follows:
1. Alexander Albon
2. Nicholas Latifi
3. Nyck de Vries
4. George Russell
5. Sérgio Sette Câmara
6. Antonio Fuoco
7. Alessio Lorandi
8. Nirei Fukuzumi
9. Roberto Merhi
10. Tadasuke Makino
11. Artem Markelov
12. Louis Delétraz
13. Dorian Boccolacci
14. Jack Aitken
15. Arjun Maini
16. Maximilian Günther
17. DNF Niko Kari
18. DNF Lando Norris
19. DNF Luca Ghiotto
20. DNS Sean Gelael

Race Two

The sprint race grid is as follows:
1. Nirei Fukuzumi
2. Alessio Lorandi
3. Antonio Fuoco
4. Sérgio Sette Câmara
5. George Russell
6. Nyck de Vries
7. Nicholas Latifi
8. Alexander Albon
9. Roberto Merhi
10. Tadasuke Makino
11. Artem Markelov
12. Louis Delétraz
13. Dorian Boccolacci
14. Jack Aitken
15. Arjun Maini
16. Maximilian Günther
17. Niko Kari
18. Lando Norris
19. Luca Ghiotto
20. Sean Gelael

The race itself was a dry track, though had dark clouds looming over the track. Norris struggled to get off the line for the formation lap, but manages to keep the car going off the line to continue on the warm up lap.

Fukuzumi keeps the lead from the race, but being immediately challenged by Fuoco. Loranid loses out by the first corner and makes a very ambitous move into the second corner to try take the lead, but ends up going wide. Latifi makes his way up to near the front of the grid battling with Lorandi for position, but unfortunately there was contact, where Lorandi overestimated his braking zone, rear ending the back of the Canadian driver, ending both their races. Meanwhile, Albon got past de Vries for 5th. Because of these two cars were in an area that could be dangerous, the safety car was called out to retrieve the Trident and the DAMS car.

Come lap 3, the green flag is waved to resume racing. Already, Markelov passes Makino for 8th down the straight past the first corner. Russell had been on the rear of Fukuzumi for laps, but without DRS, he was struggling to get past. Once it was activated, he gets past the Japanese driver with ease. Sette Câmara passes him not long after with the same advantage, pushing him into third. Meanwhile, Albon moves up to 4th past Fuoco.

De Vries passes Fuoco into 5th, in which Markelov does the same with Fuoco and then de Vries into the left hander after the second corner. Unfortunately for Fukuzumi, he locks up losing out to Markelov and de Vries, dropping to 6th.

Rain started littering the track, where Niko Kari gets caught out, and spins round, hitting the wall, damaging the front right suspension and also putting his front wing on the race track. Aitken also spins out, stalling his car and ending his race too. The virtual safety car was called to retrieve the ART car. Norris gambles on the wet tyres after already sitting at the back of the grid. De Vries went off the track, allowing Fuoco to get past for 5th.

A lot of drivers ended up going for the weather tyres, allowing Fuoco and Deletraz to inherit the race lead as they remained on the slicks. Russell passes Deletraz as the Swiss driver struggles for grip on the wet surface. Sette Câmara and Albon follow suit for the same move, leaving the Charouz driver to drop down the order. Russell takes the lead of the race from Fuoco as he also struggles like his teammate. Unfortunately for Lando Norris, he picks up a puncture on his right rear tyre, ending his race, thus giving him a double DNF for the weekend.

Over the final lap, Russell kept a 8 second gap to Sette Câmara in second, easily clearing the race for his sixth win of the season. Behind, the Brazilian driver was under charge from the Thai driver, but managed to hold on to secure 2nd. Markelov loses out to 4th within the closing stages after going wide, allowing the Prema driver of de Vries to get past.

The sprint race results are:
1. George Russell
2. Sérgio Sette Câmara
3. Alexander Albon
4. Nyck de Vries
5. Artem Markelov
6. Roberto Merhi
7. Nirei Fukuzumi
8. Dorian Boccolacci
9. Antonio Fuoco
10. Maximilian Günther
11. Tadasuke Makino
12. Sean Gelael
13. Louis Delétraz
14. Luca Ghiotto
15. Arjun Maini
16. DNF Lando Norris
17. DNF Jack Aitken
18. DNF Niko Kari
19. DNF Alessio Lorandi
20. DNF Nicholas Latifi

George Russell stays in first., whilst Norris’ double DNF allowed Albon to move up to 2nd, which left the British driver 14 points behind. De Vries also got past Markelov after a very successful weekend, creating a gap of 18 points. In terms of the team’s championship, Carlin, ART and DAMS stayed 1-2-3 like the previous round, but Prema moved up to 4th by 1 point to Russian Time.

Come back on Friday for a brand new post, found on our website like always!

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