F2: Zhou takes maiden win, Schumacher extends championship lead

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Russia, Sochi International Street Circuitru

UNI-Virtuosi driver Guanyu Zhou claimed his maiden FIA Formula 2 victory in today's Sochi sprint race which was red-flagged following a heavy collision between Luca Ghiotto and Jack Aitken.

Starting from the first position, Guanyu Zhou had a good start, but Jack Aitken had an even greater getaway. The Briton challenged for the lead into Turn 2, but the Chinese managed to hold on to the first position.

Yesterday’s race winner Mick Schumacher had a sensational start to his race, climbing up from 8th to 4th. The German showed controlled aggressiveness to boost his title aspirations.

Unlike at the front, there was contact at the back of the field. Guilherme Samaia span around and peeled off to the side of the track with big damage to his car. Virtual Safety Car was deployed to recover the Brazilian’s car who made contact with Jack Hughes. The HWA man managed to claw back to the pit lane, but he was forced to retire only in his second F2 race.

On lap 3, the VSC period ended and the field was released. Jack Aitken was slow out of the final corner, and Schumacher passed him. At the front, Zhou led, but Nikita Mazepin was chasing hard. The Russian used the energy on home soil to set the fastest race lap.

On lap 6, Zhou’s lead decreased to just 0.8s, meaning that Mazepin was in DRS range. Schumacher was driving alone in 3rd, 3.9s behind the second-placed Russian.

On the next lap, Aitken and Ghiotto touched at high speed at Turn 3 when the Italian tried to pass the Briton. The replay showed that Aitken understeered which caused the incident that saw both drivers bury their cars into the barriers.

As there was significant damage to the barriers, the race direction decided not to restart the race. Zhou was awarded the victory, with Mazepin taking second, and Schumacher 3rd. Only half-points were awarded, with the race not reaching the required distance for full points.

Despite the early end to the race, race winner Zhou was delighted to finally claim a Formula 2 victory. The Chinese racer has disclosed that taking at least a single F2 victory was his main aim for 2020.

“Finally! I have my first victory in the F2 Championship and it definitely felt good to stand on the top step. I promised the Chinese fans at the start of the season that I would win at least once for the country and we have done that today.

“Obviously, it hurts a little bit because we have only got half points. I think from the beginning of the race up until the red flag, we were quite decent. I think that me and Nikita had good pace compared to everyone else and were pulling away. It was nice to see Jack and Luca walk away, so that is a good thing. Obviously going into a little break with a victory is definitely nice,” he said.

The championship will now enjoy a long break before the action continues in Bahrain. The first round in Manama will take place on November 27 and 28 before the season concludes just a week later on the Outer Circuit of the Bahrain track.

As far as the championship standings is concerned, Schumacher leads the title fight heading into the penultimate round of the season, but it remains all to play for, with less than 50 points separating the top four. The German sits on 191 points ahead of Callum Ilott (169). Yuki Tsunoda is third on the list on 147 points. Following his second weekend without a single point added to his tally, Robert Shwartzman slipped down the order to fifth.