Formula 2 Sprint Race
The Sprint race turned out dramatic but was brought to an abrupt end by a huge crash involving Luca Ghiotto and Jack Aitken on lap 8. The race was red flagged and not restarted post that. The biggest loser was Jehan Daruvala who had to serve a 5-second penalty for track limit infringement at Turn 2 and dropped out of points as a result, despite running fifth at the time of stoppage.
China’s Guanyu Zhou took his first ever Formula 2 victory followed by home hero Nikita Mazepin who would be disappointed as he seemed to have a very good chance of taking the victory. Championship leader Mick Schumacher came home third to further extend his lead. Jack Aitken and Luca Ghiotto were classified fourth and fifth despite crashing out which brought out the red flag as the classification was back tracked to lap 5 order. Yuki Tsunoda, Callum Illot and Dan Ticktum took home the final points as only the top 8 are awarded points in the sprint race as compared to the feature race.
With the Russia round done, Formula 2 now takes a 2 month break to be back for the final 2 rounds at Bahrain in November.
Formula 1 Race
Lewis Hamilton’s quest for his record equalling 91st race win did not get off a start as expected as he was under investigation for doing practice starts at the fast lane of the pit lane. Invariably which got his two 5 second penalties which he had to serve during his pitstop. Hamilton held the lead at the end of the long straight to Turn 2 but it was carnage at the back. Carlos Sainz couldn’t clearly make through the runoff area and ended up crashing into the barriers and the Racing Point of Lance Stroll got hit by Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari taking the Racing point out of the race. A safety car was deployed to clear the cars and the likes of Lando Norris, Alex Albon and George Russell pitted for hard tires.
It was a clean restart from Lewis Hamilton and maintained the lead till he pitted and thus taking his 10 seconds penalty and falling way back to P11. It was a superb start from Estaben Ocon who got into P4 till his first round of pitstops. Valterri Bottas and Max Verstappen kept on piling laps on the mediums they had started the race with unlike the softs of many who were trailing them. Hamilton and Bottas fought for the fastest lap but in the end, it was Valterri Bottas who went home with a maximum available of 26 points taken. Max Verstappen came home second and Hamilton third, thus making it the 6th time of 10 races in 2020 that these 3 had shared the podium. Sergio Perez had a fighting race to come home fourth and Daniel Ricciardo came home fifth despite being handing a 5 second penalty for leaving the track and not joining as per steward’s directions at Turn 2. Charles Leclerc ended at a fine sixth place for Scuderia Ferrari who are struggling for pace this year. Estaben Ocon had a lot of defending to do to come to seventh, just ahead of the home hero Danill Kvyat. Pierre Gasly made it a double point finish for Alpha Tauri, and the Red bull of Alex Albon took out the final point available. The tussle between the three good friends off the track and regular twitch streamers Russell, Albon and Norris put up a nice show with a 3-way scrap at the back of the field.
At the end of the 10th round of F1 2020 season, Lewis Hamilton leads the championship with a 44-point lead over Bottas and also looking for his 91st race win which will equal him with Michael Schumacher. Among the constructors, Mercedes lead the way with 366 points followed by Redbull at 192 points. The fight for the 3rd position is between McLaren, Racing Point and Renault all separated by just 7 points.
The next round of F1 2020 season is scheduled to take place at the brilliant track of Nürburgring on the 11th of October.
The long run to Turn 2 at Sochi Autodrom often provides first lap carnages with many missing the braking points with the cold tires. A first lap crash today eliminated Christian Lundgaard who is 3rd in the championship currently. Jehan Daruvala, who started from P2, lost one position right at the start to Mick Schumacher and one more during the pitstops, pitting 2 laps earlier than his fellow competitors. He ended up P5 and will be starting from P4 for tomorrow’s sprint race.
The Ferrari backed Mick Schumacher – son of 7th time Formula 1 World Champion, Michael Schumacher extended his lead in the Formula2 2020 world championship by winning the feature race. He was followed by Honda backed driver, Yuki Tsunoda, who made an incredible move on the other Ferrari backed driver Callum Ilott to take 2nd position. The podium was completed by Callum Illot but not before we had a photo finish with Luca Ghiotto crossing the line just 0.025 seconds behind Illot. Jehan Daruvala who started in P2 finished P5 adding 10 more points to his tally. The top 10 was rounded out by Jack Aitken – who put his mighty defensive driving on display, fellow Russian Nikita Mazepin, Guanyu Zhou, Marcus Armstrong and Dan Ticktum.
With the sprint race being a reverse grid race for the top 8. Zhou starts on pole position followed by Mazepin and Aitken. Jehan Daruvala would be starting from P4 and holds a chance to show another strong outing.
The start of 1st part of qualifying was greeted by a huge set of dark clouds hovering over the Sochi Autodrom. Valterri Bottas set the pace early on and was followed by his teammate Lewis Hamilton – 0.3seconds down. A bunch of drivers had their lap time deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 2. The 1st part of qualifying ended with 5 slowest cars being eliminated which were both the Alfa Romeo’s of Antonio Giovinazzi (P17) & Kimi Raikkonen (P20) – who made a mistake in his final run, both Hass F1 drivers – Romain Grosjean (P16) and Kevin Magnussen (P18) and the Williams of Nicolas Latifi (P19). George Russell continued his superb run on Saturday’s qualifying with a mega lap to get into Q2 by going almost a second quicker than his teammate Nicolas Latifi. The top 15 drivers moved to the 2nd part of qualifying.
The start of 2nd part of qualifying started with both the Mercedes cars and the Redbull of Max Verstappen going out on mediums as opposed to softs by the rest. Lewis Hamilton had his lap time deleted for track-limits and Daniel Ricciardo of Renault put in a mega lap on softs to go P1. The session was interrupted by a huge crash for the 4-time world champion, Sebastian Vettel, who lost the rear end of his car during a timed lap. The session was red flagged with 2:15 minutes left and with fast cars like Alex Albon, Lance Stroll and Lewis Hamilton still languishing in the bottom 5 – elimination zone. Hamilton made a dash to the line after the session resumed with Albon and Hamilton improving their times and the 5 cars to be eliminated where the two Scuderia Ferraris of Charles Leclerc (P11) and Sebastian Vettel (P15), the Alpha Tauri of Danill Kvyat (P12), Racing point of Lance Stroll (P13) and the Williams of George Russell (P14).
The final part of qualifying which is a shootout for pole position and determining the order of top 10 on the grid for the race tomorrow started with all cars out immediately for their first runs. Lewis Hamilton maintained a comfortable lead over his teammate Bottas throughout the session. Lewis Hamilton bettered his fast lap his final run to claim pole position and the Mercedes cars were separated by the Red bull of Max Verstappen who pipped Valterri Bottas for P2 by 0.1s. Sergio Perez continued his good run with posting the 4th quickest time. The two Renaults of Daniel Ricciardo and Estaben Ocon were separated by the McLaren of Carlon Sainz Jr. Lando Norris, Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon rounded off the top 10.
2020!! This year was a surprise package, brought places to stand still, confined people to their homes with absolutely nothing apart from essential activities taking place over the past few months. These unprecedented times also dented the sports activities everywhere and Motorsport racing was no different from that. The 70th year of Formula 1 racing, Formula 1 2020 season was all set to be kickstarted in Melbourne, Australia on 15th March 2020 only to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. What followed was a few months on uncertainty along with some tremendous work put forth by FIA and all the management teams involved to get the races to start by July 5th, 2020.
A total of 17 races were finalized in parts to make the season get along and get a decent number of races being organized. This included double races at Austria (Styrian GP), Silverstone (70th Anniversary GP), and Bahrain outer track (Sakhir GP). The new tracks compared to 2019 were Mugello (Tuscan GP), Nürburgring (Eifel GP), Portimao (Portuguese GP), and Imola (Emilia Romagna GP). This was done to minimize the travel and therefore it meant that continents like Asia, Australia, North and South America were bound to cancel their races. 2020 was the first time Formula 1 was not racing at the iconic but one of the slowest Formula 1 circuit – Monaco.
In the 9 races completed so far, Mercedes leads the way with 325 points which include 7 race wins and 14 podiums. Redbull is a distant second with a 3-way battle between McLaren, Racing Point, and Renault for 3rd place. Scuderia Ferrari has had a miserable outing in this season so far and is currently languishing in 6th position and well off the place of their main rivals.
Among the drivers, Lewis Hamilton leads with 190 points which include 6 race wins and brings him just one short of the record of Michael Schumacher who had 91 wins throughout his star-studded career. Hamilton’s teammate Valterri Bottas and Redbull’s Max Verstappen pose to be Hamilton’s closest rivals. Pierre Gasly managed to win an incredible race at Monza and it was for the first time in a half a decade that we had a podium which had neither of the top 3 teams – Mercedes, Redbull and Ferrari.
This series is often considered as the steppingstone to Formula 1. It takes place with a difference in the schedules though, a weekend has 2 races run in Formula 2 as compared to one in Formula 1. The 2 races are called the feature race and the sprint races. The feature race is the longer duration race where every driver must mandatorily pit once and use 2 compounds of tires available for the race. The sprint race does not have any such mandatory pit stop and the drivers can choose to race with any of the available sets of tires. Formula 2 is a spec series as opposed to Formula 1 which initially means that every car on the grid is the same. Though there are teams involved in Formula 2 as well that is only for managing the race. Each team has 2 drivers racing for them.
A very important point to note here is Formula 2 has Indian participation this year in the form of Jehan Daruvala. The young driver was under the Sahara Force India Academy until Force India was sold to Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll. Jehan Daruvala is currently under the Red Bull Academy and racing for Carlin Motorsport in the 2020 Formula 2 championship. He consistently maintained the second position in the Formula 3 championship until the last round where he was pipped by Robert Schwartzman and hence finished 3rd. He has had the 4th position as his best performance during the 70th anniversary weekend.
And as we write this, Jehan Daruvala qualifies in 2nd position for the Russian GP feature race. He was 0.006 seconds off his team-mate Yuki Tsunoda in what transpired to be an extraordinary session for the Carlin team. We wish Jehan all the best for the feature race tomorrow.