Sochi F2: Albon wins and takes second in the points, Norris retires

Alexander Albon took the Sochi F2 feature race victory and second in the points standings, as future McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris retired after a pitstop error

Sochi F2: Albon wins and takes second in the points, Norris retires

From fifth on the grid, Formula E-bound Albon gained two places at the start and then passed series leader George Russell at Turn 2 for second a few laps later, to run behind polesitter and early leader Nyck de Vries.

The majority of the field, and everyone in the top eight on the grid, started on supersofts, but degradation hit hard with drivers starting to struggle from just five laps into the race.

Artem Markelov in particular excelled of those on softs 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 over Antonio Fuoco to 13.3s in less than 10 laps.

However, the radio in Markelov's car wasn't working and he took his team by surprise when he pitted for his supersofts with nine laps remaining.

A slow stop brought him out in 11th, and he eventually finished 12th having initially moved forward after the stop.

As a result, Albon comfortably returned to the lead by the time all the pitstop cycle was 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 points lead to 30 points over Albon as 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 missed his pit stall - visiting Trident instead - and then his car was dropped off the jack and the green light to signal that the stop was complete came on.

However, that happened before the front-right wheel was properly fitted, which led to his retirement. He is now 34 points behind Russell in the standings with 63 points left over the last three races. He faces the adversity of starting near the back for Sunday's reversed-grid sprint race.

Norris' team-mate Sergio Sette Camara finished fifth ahead of Fuoco, who was the best of those running on the alternate strategy starting on the soft tyres.

Alessio Lorandi scored his first points in his seventh race in F2 with Roberto Merhi securing reverse-grid pole position in eighth on his first outing for Campos this season.

The top 10 was completed by Honda juniors Nirei Fukuzumi (Arden) and Markelov's Russian Time team-mate Tadasuke Makino, the latter miraculously avoiding a big crash with Luca Ghiotto right after 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 before he fell back after the stops.

Feature race result

Pos Driver Team Laps Gap
1 Alexander Albon DAMS 28 54m12.383s
2 Nicholas Latifi DAMS 28 11.307s
3 Nyck de Vries Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 28 14.259s
4 George Russell ART Grand Prix 28 17.468s
5 Sergio Sette Camara Carlin 28 22.953s
6 Antonio Fuoco Charouz Racing System 28 34.899s
7 Alessio Lorandi Trident 28 39.133s
8 Nirei Fukuzumi BWT Arden 28 43.463s
9 Roberto Merhi Campos Vexatec Racing 28 46.334s
10 Tadasuke Makino RUSSIAN TIME 28 46.461s
11 Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 28 53.455s
12 Louis Deletraz Charouz Racing System 28 56.606s
13 Dorian Boccolacci MP Motorsport 28 1m00.950s
14 Jack Aitken ART Grand Prix 28 1m06.522s
15 Arjun Maini Trident 27 1 Lap
16 Maximilian Guenther BWT Arden 26 2 Laps
- Niko Kari MP Motorsport 23 Retirement
- Lando Norris Carlin 6 Retirement
- Luca Ghiotto Campos Vexatec Racing 1 Retirement
- Sean Gelael Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 0 Not started

shares
comments
Sochi F2: McLaren junior de Vries beats Norris and Russell to pole

Previous article

Sochi F2: McLaren junior de Vries beats Norris and Russell to pole

Next article

F2 Sochi: Russell wins sprint race, Norris out of title fight

F2 Sochi: Russell wins sprint race, Norris out of title fight
Load comments

About this article

Series FIA F2
Drivers Alex Albon , Lando Norris
Author David Gruz
Was Formula 2’s radical format switch a success? Plus

Was Formula 2’s radical format switch a success?

Going into the 2021 Formula 2 season the biggest talking point wasn’t about any drivers or teams, but the new race weekend format. Created partly out of financial necessity but also to spice up the action, the Bahrain opener provided a snapshot of the positives and negatives to come

FIA F2
Apr 4, 2021
Why 2021 is make-or-break for the driver F1 needs Plus

Why 2021 is make-or-break for the driver F1 needs

He was tipped for glory in FIA Formula 2 last year, but was hampered by reliability woes at inopportune moments. Guanyu Zhou knows he won't get too many more chances if he is to become China's first F1 driver, with fierce competition within the ranks of Alpine's junior stable

FIA F2
Mar 25, 2021
How Schumacher Jr earned his Haas F1 chance Plus

How Schumacher Jr earned his Haas F1 chance

Michael Schumacher may have won seven Formula 1 titles, but he didn't even compete for a crown at the second tier. Son Mick put that right in 2020, and proved to Ferrari that he was deserving of a shot at motorsport's elite category in 2021

FIA F2
Jan 9, 2021
The quintet giving Ferrari a tough decision to make Plus

The quintet giving Ferrari a tough decision to make

The Ferrari Driver Academy earned a podium sweep in the first Formula 2 race of the new decade in Austria last weekend. The battle between 'the FDA five' is set to be one of the major subplots of the season, but who has the best F1 prospects for 2021?

FIA F2
Jul 8, 2020
The Williams junior determined to prove Red Bull wrong Plus

The Williams junior determined to prove Red Bull wrong

Dropped by his team in Japan and by Red Bull, Dan Ticktum's single-seater career seemed to be over last summer. But now he's on the Formula 2 grid with the reigning champion team, and he's a new protege of Williams. How did that happen?

FIA F2
Mar 20, 2020
The controversial weekend that ended an American's dream in Europe Plus

The controversial weekend that ended an American's dream in Europe

OPINION: In the latest in our series of features looking back the recently concluded 2010s, we recall one of the many sagas of the 2018 Formula 2 season, which featured unusual fines and an unsavoury clash between team-mates

FIA F2
Jan 3, 2020
The year Leclerc fully revealed his star status Plus

The year Leclerc fully revealed his star status

In the latest feature in our series looking back on the 2010s, we revisit Charles Leclerc's sensational Formula 2 season - where he strode among on-track highs and lows, as well as tragedy away from motorsport, to earn a place on the Formula 1 grid

FIA F2
Dec 26, 2019
Why F1 is no longer ignoring its feeder series Plus

Why F1 is no longer ignoring its feeder series

After the MotoGP-style Formula 1 support ladder was fully united for 2019, Bruno Michel and Ross Brawn share their views on the current state of Formula 2 and FIA Formula 3 and explain why investment at junior levels should boost the top tier

FIA F2
Dec 13, 2019