George Extends F2 Championship Lead in Sochi Feature Race
FIA Formula 2 Championship Leader George Russell further extended his advantage at the top of the standings following a 4th place finish in the Feature Race at Sochi Autodrom.
Russell headed into the first race of the weekend starting from 3rd on the grid following a strong qualifying performance on Friday.
The ART Grand Prix driver made a good start from the second row, passing main title rival Lando Norris immediately to move himself behind Prema Racing’s Nyck de Vries.
The DAMS pair of Alexander Albon and Nicholas Latifi both also passed Norris on the run down to Turn 2 as the Top 5 negotiated the opening lap. Yellow flags were out following an incident further back in the pack on the exit of Turn 1.
De Vries managed to build a 1-second lead of Russell, who had to defend from Albon behind. The ‘Super-Soft’ Pirelli Tyres that most of the front runners in qualifying started on, began to degrade quickly. Albon managed to pass Russell for 2nd on Lap 5, as the driver’s starting on the alternative strategy began to come through the field with their superior tyre advantage.
Lap 7 is where most of the ‘Super-Soft’ runners went into the pit-lane. Russell followed Albon and de Vries into his pit box – where his ART Grand Prix pit crew got him out without issues just behind de Vries, as Albon moved into the lead of the trio.
It was a nightmare for nearest rival Norris in his pitstop, as a problem with the front-right tyre eliminated him from the race.
Russell emerged from the pits with 21 laps to manage his pace and tyre degradation, in the warmer temperatures compared to the Friday Practice running.
As the drivers began to make their way back through the field – who had yet to pit, it emerged that Albon was increasing his lead to de Vries and Russell. Latifi, who pitted a lap later than Russell was also enjoying a pace advantage, overtaking Russell on Lap 23 for the final spot on the podium.
Russell began to catch de Vries in the closing stages, after a huge lock when defending from Latifi left him vulnerable.
Any chance of Russell catching de Vries however was undone when the BWT Arden of Maximilian Gunther triggered a Virtual Safety Car period on the penultimate lap.
The race was resumed on the final lap, where Russell crossed the line in a solid 4th position at the chequered flag – banking 12 points for his championship and extending his advantage to 30 points, over race winner Albon.
Russell will start the partially reversed Sprint Race tomorrow from 5th on the grid. The 21-lap race will take place and be shown live on Sky Sports F1 HD at 11:20 (GMT+3), with all drivers starting on the ‘Soft’ compound Pirelli Tyres.
Photos: FIA Formula 2 Media