Sochi F2: Albon wins chaotic race, drama for Norris

Alexander Albon won a chaotic Formula 2 feature race after a spectacular victory bid from local hero Artem Markelov ended in a pitstop mishap, and became George Russell's main rival for the title as Lando Norris retired.

Sochi F2: Albon wins chaotic race, drama for Norris

Starting fifth, Albon gained two places at the start and then passed Russell at Turn 2 for second a few laps later, to run behind pole-sitter and early leader Nyck de Vries.

The majority of the field, and everyone in the top eight on the grid, started on supersofts, but they only had a handful of good laps before they started to lose out to those on softs.

Markelov in particular excelled on the soft compound as he gained 10 places from 19th on the grid in just two laps, and was up to fourth by lap 5.

The Russian then took the lead as the top three pitted on the same lap, and Albon moved ahead of de Vries, who had a sluggish stop.

Markelov rapidly pulled away from those on the same strategy as him, turning a 1.2s gap on lap 7 over Antonio Fuoco to 13.3s by lap 18.

However, rather unexpectedly, the Russian dived into the pits with nine laps remaining and he lost out massively during his stop as his team was seemingly not ready for him. Markelov eventually finished only 12th.

As a result, Albon comfortably returned to the lead by the time all the pitstops were completed, building a comfortable gap over de Vries as the duo had to manage their way through traffic.

De Vries survived an accident with Arjun Maini, but had to give up second to Nicholas Latifi when he had a massive lock-up with just three laps to go.

After a brief virtual safety car stint caused by Maximilian Gunther spinning out on track after contact with Markelov, Albon eventually won by 11.3s with Latifi completing a DAMS 1-2.

Russell took fourth and extended his lead to 30 points as his erstwhile main rival Norris endured a difficult race.

The McLaren junior had a poor start from second on the grid to drop to the lower half of the top 10.

When he dived into the pits, he first missed his pit position, and then was released before his front right tyre was properly fitted, which led to his retirement.

As a result, Norris dropped behind Albon in the standings, and is 34 points behind Russell.

Norris' teammate Sergio Sette Camara finished fifth ahead of Fuoco, who was the best of those running on the alternate strategy.

Alessio Lorandi scored his first points in his seventh race in F2 with Roberto Merhi securing reverse-grid pole position in eighth.

The top 10 was completed by Honda juniors Nirei Fukuzumi and Tadasuke Makino, the latter miraculously avoiding a big crash with Luca Ghiotto right at the start, when the duo made contact in the fast Turn 1 right-hander.

While Makino continued, Ghiotto damaged his car and retired in the pits, joining Sean Gelael, who stalled on the formation lap.

Niko Kari also couldn't finish his first-ever F2 race despite impressing in the early stages, even passing Fuoco for second at one point.

Race results

shares
comments
Sochi F2: De Vries beats Norris, Russell to pole
Previous article

Sochi F2: De Vries beats Norris, Russell to pole

Next article

Sochi F2: Russell edges closer to title with sprint win

Sochi F2: Russell edges closer to title with sprint win
Load comments
What next for "too politically incorrect" for F1 Ticktum? Prime

What next for "too politically incorrect" for F1 Ticktum?

Having by his own admission "blown my chances" of reaching Formula 1, Dan Ticktum is facing an uncertain future. A driver of unquestioned ability who has at times been his own worst enemy, can he apply his lessons and rebuild his career hopes?

FIA F2
Sep 30, 2021
How Piastri could be forced to spend 2022 on the bench Prime

How Piastri could be forced to spend 2022 on the bench

Tipped as the next big thing after winning the FIA Formula 3 championship in his rookie season, Oscar Piastri has taken Formula 2 by storm and looks set to clinch that title too. But with no Formula 1 seat available to him for next year, the Alpine junior may have to wait for his time in the spotlight…

FIA F2
Sep 24, 2021
How Campos Racing has bounced back from its devastating loss Prime

How Campos Racing has bounced back from its devastating loss

After the sudden death of its founder in January, Formula 2 stalwart Campos Racing was left facing its hardest season to date. But new team boss Adrian Jr is determined to honour his father’s legacy and has returned the team to its winning ways

FIA F2
Sep 20, 2021
How F2 and F3's flawed format changes could prove shortlived Prime

How F2 and F3's flawed format changes could prove shortlived

After a chaotic 2020, marred by the coronavirus pandemic, the FIA brought in radical changes to Formula 2 and 3. But less than 12 months later, there are talks of them being reversed after all did not go to plan…

FIA F2
Sep 9, 2021
The Red Bull F1 junior aiming to defy geographical odds Prime

The Red Bull F1 junior aiming to defy geographical odds

It's a long way from Pukekohe New Zealand to Milton Keynes, but Red Bull's Kiwi protege Liam Lawson has defied plenty of odds to reach the rung below F1. He's endured disappointment since winning on his F2 debut in Bahrain, but is determined to turn his season around and prove himself worthy of a place on the F1 grid

FIA F2
Jul 27, 2021
How Red Bull's next F1 hopeful turned around his season Prime

How Red Bull's next F1 hopeful turned around his season

Having impressed in Formula 3, Juri Vips looked to be next cab off the rank in Red Bull's prestigious Junior Team before his 2020 schedule was dealt a heavy blow by the COVID-19 pandemic. After a tough start to life in Formula 2, Vips is showing signs of a recovery - could he be the first Estonian to reach Formula 1?

FIA F2
Jun 14, 2021
How F1 hopeful Pourchaire is re-writing the F2 record books Prime

How F1 hopeful Pourchaire is re-writing the F2 record books

He'd marked himself out as a star of the future in last year's FIA Formula 3 championship, but 17-year-old Theo Pourchaire underlined his credentials by winning his first Formula 2 race in the Monaco feature. Sauber junior status gives him a clear route to the top, but with wisdom beyond his years, he's not getting caught up in his own hype.

FIA F2
Jun 3, 2021
The F1 hopeful living two lives to keep his dream alive Prime

The F1 hopeful living two lives to keep his dream alive

Having lost his backing from Red Bull, Richard Verschoor has had to graft to continue his ascent up the single-seater ladder. An impressive Formula 2 debut in Bahrain, despite the lateness of his deal, shows his unorthodox approach is paying dividends.

FIA F2
Apr 22, 2021