Sochi Talking points: Schumacher looks unstoppable, Zhou deserved his race win



With the dust settled after another enthralling FIA Formula 2 race weekend at Sochi in Russia, we take a look at the talking points from Round 10.

SCHUMACHER LOOKS UNSTOPPABLE

Mick Schumacher is simply unstoppable at the moment. The German ace has reached an extraordinary level of consistncy and took his fourth double-podium finish of the season in Sochi. That’s a ridiculous feat, and it’s why he rightly leads the Drivers’ Championship.

Schumacher got his second Feature Race win in three rounds, thanks to what was arguably his best performance in F2 to date. The German enjoyed his usual strong start, flinging his PREMA off the line from third to second and from there he patiently waited for an opportunity to overtake Yuki Tsunoda, displaying his impressive tyre management skills.

There still remains an awful lot to fight for in the battle for the title and the job is far from finished, but Schumacher is looking more and more complete by the round. In his current form, it’ll take a lot to catch him.

ZHOU IS A WELL-DESERVED RACE WINNER

Never give up. That’s the mantra which has kept Guanyu Zhou going throughout a difficult sophomore season in F2. The Chinese racer was the top rookie in 2019, but has struggled to keep pace with the title challengers this year, while his wait for a first win kept stretching out.

In Sochi, he finally got the monkey off his back, albeit in unusual circumstances. Zhou started on reverse grid pole and confidently edged away in the opening laps, until a collision between Luca Ghiotto and Jack Aitken brought a halt to the race and ended the day early.

We will never know how the race would have played out, but Zhou had controlled the opening laps and is deservedly an F2 race winner. He’s now hoping that it’s the first of many, saying after the race: “I think once you hit it the first time, there should be more coming.”

HARD WORK IS PAYING OFF FOR CARLIN

Carlin scored their highest points’ tally of the season in Round 10, taking 34 in total. Yuki Tsunoda praised the teams’ meticulous work leading up to Sochi, saying “I expected it to be a good race weekend because of the good work that we did beforehand.”

The Japanese driver nabbed his third pole of the season, directly ahead of his teammate, Jehan Daruvala, as Carlin secured just the third Qualifying one-two in the history of the modern guise of F2.

Carlin have regularly been at the forefront of the Free Practice timesheets but have struggled on occasion to carry this over into Qualifying. They suffered no such problem this time around. 

Tsunoda is still eying the F2 title and his confidence will be sky high heading into the final two rounds –that’s largely thanks to his teams’ hard work.

A STRONG DEBUT FOR HUGHES

Jake Hughes did his career prospects no harm at all on his maiden F2 appearance in Sochi. Granted, his Sprint Race may have ended in retirement, after a coming together with Guilherme Samaia, but that takes nothing away from the speed he showed in Round 10.

BWT HWA RACELAB haven’t enjoyed the greatest of debuts in F2, but the German outfit are major players in the world of motorsport and undoubtedly have huge potential in F2. Driving the car for the first time, Hughes’ job was to help unlock this. The Briton may have qualified 15th, but briefly sat inside of the top ten and believes that he could have stayed there, had they made a different strategy choice. 

Hughes then rose three places to P12 in the Feature Race, only just missing out on a points’ finish on his very first weekend in the Championship. While, his influence behind the scenes in the garage has also been praised by HWA team manager Kenny Kirwan.

PIRELLI TYRES CONTINUE TO SURPRISE

The 18-inch Pirelli tyres continue to wonder, amaze, and well…. confuse. They’re highly unpredictable and that’s borne out in some stunning races. They caught the grid off-guard again in Sochi, with many noting that there wasn’t actually much difference between the mediums and the Supersofts (well spotted Twitter, F2 do still use Supersofts).

Nikita Mazepin has since said in his Guest Column that the Alternate Strategy - which has treated him well on numerous occasions this season – was the wrong one, with degradation proving surprisingly low in Russia. 

They’re certainly keeping the grid on their toes this season, and long may it continue.

(ARL/WTO/F2)
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