Weekend Preview: Round 10 – Sochi, Russia
The Sochi Autodrom in Russia plays host to Round 10 of the 2020 Formula 2 Championship.
The Russian Grand Prix weekend will see the first major return of fans to Formula 1 and Formula 2. The previous race at Mugello saw a limited number of fans, whereas Sochi’s attendance is expected to be around 30,000 according to reports.
All the drivers will be hoping for success on the home stretch of the championship, for after Sochi there is a month break before the double-header in Bahrain.
Last year saw Nyck De Vries clinch the drivers’ title after taking victory in the Feature Race. We won’t be seeing a repeat of his success this year, as eight points separate Mick Schumacher in first place and fellow Ferrari Academy driver Callum Ilott in second, whilst 53 points cover the top eight.
Schumacher will be hoping his consistency continues to pay off, as he has not failed to finish outside the top five since the Sprint Race in Barcelona. Last time out in Mugello saw him finish in fifth for the Feature and fourth in the Sprint Race, allowing him to wrestle the championship lead from Ilott.
Sochi could be a return to form for Ilott after an underwhelming weekend last time out for the Brit, where he finished in 12th and sixth respectively. The UNI-Virtuosi driver is one to watch this weekend, after qualifying third here last year and taking one of his two podium finishes in 2019, with third in the Sprint Race.
Fourth and fifth placed drivers, Robert Shwartzman and Nikita Mazepin will be hoping for a successful homecoming, alongside HWA’s Artem Markelov. The second PREMA of Shwartzman will be wanting to recreate his success here in Formula 3, where he took pole position and back-to-back podiums in second and third, snatching the title with one race to spare.
Mazepin heads to Sochi after a polarising weekend at Mugello. Capitalising on the late safety car and snatching the Feature Race win on Saturday, Sunday saw him lock up whilst being passed by his teammate Luca Ghiotto.
Ghiotto’s Hitech was forced to retire and Mazepin received a 10-second penalty for the collision. The Russian driver will be hoping this isn’t a recurring theme, after his penalty for causing a collision in here last year.
During the Sprint Race, Mazepin went into the run off at Turn 2 and failed to go around the marker boards as required before re-joining the track. Jack Aitken, who went off at the same corner but did go around the boards correctly, was unable to avoid Mazepin, clipping the right rear of his car and launching him into Nobuharu Matsushita with both cars hitting the barriers.
Matsushita had to be extracted from the car and as a consequence of the incident, Mazepin was forced to serve a 15-place grid-drop at the following race in Abu Dhabi and had four penalty points added to his licence.
This incident ultimately resulted in a red flag as the barriers were repaired and the race was shortened to 15 laps, which was won by Luca Ghiotto.
Despite being so close to the end of the season, Formula 2 has once again had a game of musical chairs. HWA’s Giuliano Alesi moves to MP Motorsport, replacing Nobuharu Matsushita. Alesi’s HWA seat is filled by Jake Hughes, who drove with the team in Formula 3 this year. Additionally, Jüri Vips continues at DAMS in place of the injured Sean Gelael.
Round 10 could prove to be crucial for the championship and as we’ve seen in previous weekends, momentum can shift at any moment and no driver this year can be complacent with 144 points still to play for.
So will it be from Russia with love? Or will Sochi spell heartbreak for some of the Formula 2 grid?
Here are all the times you need to know this weekend. All times are local.
- Free Practice: 9:35 – 10:20.
- Qualifying: 14:00 – 14:30 – Qualifying Report will be live on insidef2’s dedicated Round 10 – Russia page.
- Feature Race: Lights Out 10:15
- Feature Race: LIVE Lap by Lap. The live blogging session begins 15 Minutes before Lights Out.
- Feature Race: Race Standings and Report within 1 Hour of the Chequered Flag via our dedicated Round 10 – Russia page.
- Sprint Race: Lights Out 10:55
- Sprint Race: LIVE Lap by Lap – The live blogging session begins 15 Minutes before Lights Out.
- Sprint Race: Race Standings and Report within 1 Hour of the Chequered Flag via our dedicated Round 10 – Russia page.
- The Debrief will be published with all the action and reaction to the weekend’s action! We would love to get your opinions.
Let us know what your predictions are! Comment or Tweet us @insideF2 and join our ever growing community of Formula 2 fans!
* Image Credit: Formula Motorsport Limited