Start, F2, Sochi Autodrom, 2019

De Vries seals F2 title with three races to spare

Formula Two

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Nyck De Vries has clinched the 2019 Formula 2 title by winning from pole position in Sochi, despite rival Luca Ghiotto leading the majority of the race.

After picking up four bonus points for being title rival Nicholas Latifi to pole the day before, De Vries went into the race with a 63-point lead, and needed to finish three points clear of Latifi to seal the championship. De Vries made an exceptional getaway, immediately pulling out space as Latifi was absorbed into the pack behind.

Home racer Artem Markelov, returning to F2 to drive the final two rounds for Arden, had a car failure on lap one prompting a short Virtual Safety Car period. That kept Latifi within reach of a very close group including Callum Ilott and the rapidly advancing Ghiotto.

Within a few laps the drivers who’d started on the super-soft tyres, mostly the front runners, were under pressure from those who’s opted for mediums. Ghiotto’s medium-shod Uni_virtuosi car moved into the lead within five laps, passing De Vries easily with an obvious grip advantage.

Latifi and De Vries pitted on lap six, immediately switching to medium tyres for the rest of the race, with 22 laps to work their way back to the front.

Mick Schumacher, also on mediums, gained four places on the first lap to move to second by lap eight. Nikita Mazepin, however, was clearly keen to get to the front at his home race, and swapped positions with his Prema rival three times over laps eight and nine, with the Russian coming out on top. This battle kept them with the main pack of drivers and allowed Matsushita to take third place from Schumacher while Ghiotto was free to draw out a nearly 10 second lead.

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Ghiotto, Mazepin, Matsushita and Schumacher kept the order until lap 18 when large amounts of smoke began spewing from the back of Schumacher’s Prema. It appeared not to affect his speed, closing on the Carlin ahead despite the plumes of smoke that a radio message from Jordan King behind said was taking it hard to breathe and spilling oil.

Schumacher finally pitted and retired two laps later, ending a promising drive. Meanwhile De Vries and Latifi, working their way back up the grid, had made it sixth and eighth and were on course to reclaim the leading positions once those ahead of them pitted.

Ghiotto finally surrendered the lead on lap 25 for a clean stop. He emerged in fourth with a six and a half second gap to the now-leader and Latifi and Deletraz between them.

Ghiotto was able to pass Deletraz on lap 27, leaving only Latifi between him and De Vries. His tyres weren’t up to hunting down the leaders, however. They gave up entirely on the final lap, and Deletraz gladly reclaimed the final podium spot just before the chequered flag.

De Vries’s success sees him become the third champion of F2’s new era, following Charles Leclerc and George Russell. He and his rivals have three more races left this year, after which De Vries will join Mercedes’ Formula E team for its entry into the championship.

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    Hazel Southwell
    Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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    15 comments on “De Vries seals F2 title with three races to spare”

    1. De Vries’s success sees him become the third champion of F1’s new era, following Charles Leclerc and George Russell.

      Did you mean F2’s new era? Because I’m otherwise a little lost, since de Vries doesn’t have an F1 drive, does he?

      1. @phylyp apologies, yes – not sure how that slipped in there.

        1. @hazelsouthwell – no worries, it’s all good. I was genuinely curious whether I was being dense or not, since I don’t follow F2, and only keep somewhat abreast of it here.

    2. Does De Vries not want to drive in F1?

      1. @carbon_fibre he was on the Mclaren junior programme for awhile – but a factory Formula E drive is an extremely good deal.

      2. @carbon_fibre, it looks more like nobody is particularly interested in him given the time it has taken him to win the title and the fact that the rest of the field looked relatively weak by comparison.

        1. I’m so fed up of that narrative about this year. Russell had a substantially bigger advantage with his teammate jammed by reliability issues that plagued the whole grid. There’s a lot of talent on the 2019 F2 grid and the overall reliability has massively improved. Taking the title with what’s essentially five races in pocket, following the events at Spa meaning no race points were awarded there, is a pretty major achievement.

          Edit to add: I also think Russell is very talented and a worthy winner – I just don’t understand why there’s a persistent belief this year’s grid is weaker than it is.

          1. nobody is particularly interested in him given the time it has taken him to win the title

            That’s the main point. Which you conveniently glossed over. Put in number’s in @blue‘s reply.

          2. Fully agreed… F2 is quite competitive.
            Apart from the 2019 grid, de Vries was right up there with Albon and Norris last season…
            He would have taken P2 in standings quite firmly if ALbon wouldn’t have taken him out at Monaco 2018.

            I even feel De Vries has been more dominant this season than Russell last season… F1 is a lot about money

        2. It was just bad luck. McLaren had him in the junior program, but took Norris over him and now there is no room. Most teams have a program of their own and if you get kicked out late, it’s hard to get back on the F1 track. Still a FE drive for mercedes is not bad at all. He already showed amazing skill in LeMans. I expect he will have a great career.

        3. If De Vries was in the Art seat last year I don’t think Russell would be champion, De Vries did very good races in Prema last year and we’re seeing how far from Uni Virtuosi/Russian Time and Art they are.

          F2 have a very strong grid, at least 4-5 drivers are good enough for F1 and not far from Russell/Norris’s level. Most of F2 drivers are doing good in their categories this year, Gunther got a BMW FE deal. Ferruci had excellent results in Indy. Look at Mazepin test at Mercedes, he is nowhere in F2 and had excellent lap times in the test. I don’t know why people have this thinking that only 1 or 2 drivers have great talent and the rest that was beaten by them are mediocre or worse. If they are so bad, then what is the merit of who beat them?

          1. And what will happen next year if Shwartzman, Armstrong or Vips don’t win the title? They will be the new Camara/De Vries/Lafiti/Guioto of the grid? People need to understand that winning in first year is not a matter of talent alone, there’s a lot of factors envolved.

            1. I feel that first season of all champions tells quite a good comparison on their talent. Three-year-period was clearly lower compared to the rest and of the five drivers who won the title in their first seasons, two became F1 champions and two have had promising early moments in their F1 careers.

              Rosberg – 1st (1st season for everyone but even taking that to account, Rosberg made the jump from F3 compared to some guys who raced in F3000 in 2004)
              Hamilton – 1st
              Glock – 4th
              Pantano – 9th in F3000, 6th in GP2 era
              Hülkenberg – 1st
              Maldonado – 11th (missed last four rounds due to injury, was 8th at the time)
              Grosjean – 4th
              Valsecchi – 15th (missed three rounds due to injury)
              Leimer – 19th
              Palmer – 28th (scoreless)
              Vandoorne – 2nd
              Gasly – 8th (three scoreless weekends on previous season)
              Leclerc – 1st
              Russell – 1st
              De Vries – 7th

              Hülkenberg and Vandoorne seem outliers within the group. Both had good rookie seasons but neither has reached the expectations in F1.

    3. Cristiano Ferreira
      28th September 2019, 18:24

      Poor kid, going into the cesspool that FE is so soon :(

      1. IF he’s good enough to beat Vandoorne and be a front runner in a new team like Mercedes I can assure you that he will be in the radar of many teams. That said, I don’t think that will happen. But I want to see it happening.

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