Sochi F2: ART's de Vries seals title early with win in feature race

New Mercedes Formula E signing Nyck de Vries sealed the 2019 Formula 2 championship after winning the Sochi feature race for the ART Grand Prix team

Sochi F2: ART's de Vries seals title early with win in feature race

Luca Ghiotto was always likely to be a threat for victory as he began the race on the alternate strategy - unusual for someone starting as high as third - meaning he would start on medium tyres and switch to super softs for the final stages.

Ghiotto ran until the end of lap 24 out of 28 on the mediums, but his ability to keep the tyre alive was incredible as he led the majority of the race and consistently lapped as quickly as those on fresher tyres.

But when Ghiotto rejoined after changing tyres he was 6.3 seconds adrift of leader de Vries and, although he initially moved forward, he could not catch the race leader.

The win guarantees polesitter de Vries the title a round early, and means ART has run a driver to the title for a second year in a row following Williams Formula 1 driver George Russell's 2018 crown.

The key for the Dutchman was to hold title rival and DAMS ace Nicholas Latifi - who started second - at bay, and then remain ahead at the pitstops. His rapid laps throughout the race also meant Ghiotto could not save his tyres as much as he would have liked.

Williams F1 reserve Latifi needed to win to have any chance of taking a chunk out of de Vries's huge lead, but did take second in the race as a consolation.

In the end, Ghiotto not only failed to pass Latifi but was also repassed by Carlin's Louis Deletraz, who sealed the final podium position with a brave move at Turn 13 on the final lap.

Deletraz's third place was set up by a brilliant stint on the medium tyres, having had a lacklustre start on the super softs. Third in the championship Ghiotto at least held off his rival in the points, Sergio Sette Camara of DAMS, who was rapid in the closing stages.

Honda junior Nobuharu Matsushita claimed sixth in the second Carlin-run car, ahead of Campos Racing's Jack Aitken and Russian driver Nikita Mazepin, who takes pole for the reversed-grid race on Sunday at his home event.

Ferrari junior Callum Ilott of the Sauber Junior Team and Ghiotto's team-mate Guan Yu Zhou completed the points-paying positions in the top 10.

Another Ferrari junior, Mick Schumacher, had run behind Matsushita having also started on the medium tyre, until his car started to smoke and drop oil with 11 laps to go. He retired a few laps later.

Artem Markelov was the first retirement, pulling to a stop in the final sector on his first start with Arden in place of the late Anthoine Hubert.

Ilott's debutant team-mate Matevos Isaakyan suffered a damaging early lock-up and finished 18th and last.

Result - 28 laps

Pos Driver Team Gap
1 Nyck de Vries ART Grand Prix 54m12.087s
2 Nicholas Latifi DAMS 4.918s
3 Louis Deletraz Carlin 5.995s
4 Luca Ghiotto UNI-Virtuosi 7.607s
5 Sergio Sette Camara DAMS 11.378s
6 Nobuharu Matsushita Carlin 20.364s
7 Jack Aitken Campos Racing 27.403s
8 Nikita Mazepin ART Grand Prix 28.572s
9 Callum Ilott Sauber Junior Team by Charouz 32.394s
10 Guanyu Zhou UNI-Virtuosi 33.756s
11 Sean Gelael Prema Racing 43.365s
12 Jordan King MP Motorsport 47.493s
13 Giuliano Alesi Trident 48.620s
14 Ralph Boschung Trident 59.021s
15 Tatiana Calderon BWT Arden 1m09.884s
16 Marino Sato Campos Racing 1m46.218s
17 Mahaveer Raghunathan MP Motorsport 1 Lap
18 Matevos Isaakyan Sauber Junior Team by Charouz 1 Lap
- Mick Schumacher Prema Racing Retirement
- Artem Markelov BWT Arden Retirement

Drivers' standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Nyck de Vries 254
2 Nicholas Latifi 184
3 Luca Ghiotto 169
4 Sergio Sette Camara 161
5 Jack Aitken 159
6 Nobuharu Matsushita 124
7 Guanyu Zhou 116
8 Jordan King 79
9 Anthoine Hubert 77
10 Louis Deletraz 76

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