Guanyu Zhou is finally a FIA Formula 2 race winner, but it’s not quite how the UNI-Virtuosiracer would have pictured it, after the Sochi Sprint Race ended early after a collision between Luca Ghiotto and Jack Aitken.
The duo crashed at Turn 3 on Lap 7 and ended up deep in the barriers. Both drivers walked away safely, but the scale of repairs needed meant that the decision was taken not to restart the race. With more than 25% of the 21 lap race left to run, only half points are awarded to the grid, leaving Zhou with a sense of frustration after a dominant start to the race.
Nikita Mazepin secured his fifth podium of the season at his home event, taking second, while Mick Schumacher claimed his 10th rostrum this year to further enhance his position at the top of the Drivers’ Championship.
Zhou was calm and composed when the lights went out, incisively pulling away from Mazepin, who was swallowed up by the field and fell to fifth. Aitken posed an immediate threat to Zhou, but the Campos driver’s attempt around the outside of Turn 1 failed to come off.
As has become a regular feature this season, Schumacher made a storming start. The German thundered down the right from eighth and took the inside line into the first turn, coming out of the second corner in fourth. There was an early Virtual Safety Car period after a collision between Guilherme Samaia and Jake Hughes.
The Campos bounced over the kerb at Turn 2, before making contact with Hughes’ left rear and taking them both out of the race.
Mazepin made up the positions he lost after the restart, climbing back up to third, before flinging his Hitech Grand Prix machine past Aitken to retake P2. Schumacher continued his charge up the field with an extraordinary move on Aitken for third. The PREMA clearly had the pace, but it looked as if he would have to wait until the main straight to overtake. Schumacher had other ideas though, boldly firing down the inside line and into third.