UNI-Virtuosi Racing’s Luca Ghiotto wins FIA Formula 2 (F2) Championship’s sprint race after lengthy red flag interruption.
It wasn’t a cleanest of starts to F2 sprint race at Sochi Autodrom after a heavy clash involving three cars, including reverse grid pole-sitter and ART Grand Prix’s Nikita Mazepin at Turn 3.
Mazepin was clipped by Campos Racing’s Jack Aitken, who went off at Turn 2 and re-joined the track after going on the left of the bollard. The hit from Aitken sent Mazepin into Carlin’s Nobuharu Matsushita.
The Japanese went straight into the tyre barrier with double impact from Mazepin’s car. The race was red flagged as Mazepin made it out of the car himself, while the world feed turned away from showing Matsushita.
After a brief time, the news came in that both the drivers were safe and taken to the hospital for precautionary checks. In all the melee, UNI-Virtuosi Racing’s Luca Ghiotto emerged as the racer leader.
He had Sauber Junior Team by Charouz’s Callum Ilott in second with ART’s Nyck de Vries in third, followed by the DAMS’ duo of Nicholas Latifi and Sergio Sette Camara in the Top 5.
The points scoring position were rounded out by UNI-Virtuosi Racing’s Guanyu Zhou, Prema’s Sean Gelael and Trident’s Giuliano Alesi. The race was trimmed for re-start to just 15 laps.
It started behind the safety car as host of drivers were handed time penalty with 10 second for Carlin’s Louis Deletraz and five seconds for Trident’s Ralph Boschung and Camara for gaining an advantage.
Once green, Ghiotto led the way as de Vries passed Ilott for second, with Camara moving ahead of Latifi and BWT Arden’s Artem Markelov getting himself in points after passing Alesi.
The Frenchman had a heft fight against Prema’s Mick Schumacher where they banged wheels with Alesi staying ahead. It led to another retirement for the German after not getting through in the feature race as well.
It was a feisty fight in the front as well with Ghiotto defending hard from de Vries and Ilott being joined in by the DAMS’ duo and Zhou. The Italian managed to hung on in the end to win Sochi’s sprint race.
It is his third win of the F2 season as 2019 champion de Vries ended up second with Ilott completing the podium from Camara but the Brazilian dropped to sixth with the penalty as Latifi was fourth.
Ghiotto’s teammate Zhou was fifth as Gelael and Alesi completed the points position after the Frenchman passed Markelov, who lost out to MP Motorsport’s Jordan King as well late in the race.
Position 11-17: Aitken, Boschung, Matevos Isaakyan, Deletraz, Marino Sato, Tatiana Calderon, Mahaveer Raghunathan. DNF: Schumacher, Mazepin, Matsushita.