Zhou claims first F2 win as huge crash shortens race to five laps

Formula 2

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Guanyu Zhou won the Sochi Formula 2 sprint race, which was cut short following a massive crash involving two drivers at turn three.

The Sochi sprint race was suspended on the eighth lap following a heavy crash involving Jack Aitken and Luca Ghiotto. Both drivers emerged from the crash scene unscathed, but their impact into and through the TecPro barriers required extensive repairs.

Guanyu Zhou had taken reverse-grid pole for the race alongside home racer Nikita Mazepin lining up alongside him. Aitken and Jehan Daruvala started from the second row, followed by Ghiotto and Callum Ilott.

While Zhou kept his lead at the start, contact between Formula 2 debutant Jake Hughes and Guilherme Samaia ended the Campos driver’s race and caused a brief Virtual Safety Car period. Racing recommenced on the following lap.

However the cars only managed a few laps of green flag racing before Aitken and Ghiotto ploughed into the barriers at turn three.

The pair had managed to overtake Daruvala, who received a penalty for overrunning the track limits at turn two – scene of Lewis Hamilton’s investigation during F1 qualifying yesterday. Aitken and Ghiotto went wheel-to-wheel around turn three but made brief contact at high speed on the outside of the corner, causing both to lose control.

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The pair went into the TecPro barriers at high speed. Ghiotto, in particular, covered an alarmingly short distance between contact with Aitken and the deformable plastic barriers. In a spray of polystyrene, the two cars buried deep in the structures, but both drivers quickly escapes their cars unaided.

Ghiotto’s car caught fire and burned for several minutes before fire marshals were able to reach the scene and gradually extinguish it. The cars were extracted from the barriers, but with the immovable deadline of F1’s race start a few hours away, the decision to abandon the F2 race was taken 23 minutes after the initial impact.

Under F2’s rules, the results were taken based on the positions on lap five of the race and half points were awarded. Zhou therefore becomes the 11th different winner of the Formula 2 season, and the first Chinese winner in the series.

Mick Schumacher had quickly worked his way up from eighth to third place, which increases his championship points tally to 195, 22 ahead of Callum Ilott. However Schumacher’s victory in yesterday’s feature race has been put in doubt by a protest from rival teams against his Prema squad.

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    Hazel Southwell
    Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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    10 comments on “Zhou claims first F2 win as huge crash shortens race to five laps”

    1. Once again missed the race due to time confusion.

      1. Mate, just check in with the official site. There’s no ‘time confusion’, Sochi is always different to the European races because it’s GMT+3.

        1. I checked the official website on friday and thought it showed my time as most sites do, but it only showed the local time (and no option to change), which I havent noticed until too late on Saturday, so I missed that race too.

    2. That was a horrible incident to see. I initially though Aitken was pushing Ghiotto wide to defend but after seeing the onboard, I’m not sure he was entirely in control at that point having seemingly got on the marbles. It looked like Ghiotto’s initial contact compromised the barrier’s integrity a little and it seemed Aitken kinda went under the front row without it doing much. Glad they were both ok and got out before that fire took hold.

    3. Seems that Aitken had a puncture.

      1. Aitken stated that, so yes.

    4. They both just went under the first layer of barriers. Crazy. Good thing the barriers didn’t end up on top of Ghiotto’s car blocking his way out.

      1. When Sainz had a brake failure in 2015, he also went under the barriers (maybe even more layers). I agree, the way Ghiotto went in, I wasn’t sure he would be able to get out (especially if he got injured). He’s lucky, because the fire marshals were very slow to get to the scene of the accident, and it didn’t look like they did a good job either, the first one to arrive at the scene started his extinguisher at least 3 meters away from the source of the fire.

    5. Safety is paramount says the FIA. Duck that!
      Three consecutive race weekends where races have been stopped or interrupted because of barriers that need to be fixed. And the medical car, as Stroll’s Mugello heavy crash showed, is just for thursday fun since the late Sid Watkins.

      Safety is a disgrace those times

    6. Aitken said on his Twitter that he had a puncture. That was my thought as well, but I think it was because of a very slight contact a bit earlier between the two that wasn’t really picked up. This is the clip shared by F2, and none of the angles/cuts are perfect, but when it cuts to the above shot from 0:32, you can see that Aitken is already going straight towards Ghiotto’s path, and then the next shot at 0:36 you see the rear right moving a bit weird and smoking. In fact in the coverage they showed a longer version of that panning shot starting from the earlier part of the corner, but just as the cars went from the left of the camera to the right, the cameraman was slow to follow the cars, and I think they had that first touch just in the split second when the cameraman missed them. From the helicopter shot you can see them touching a little, but the view is pretty obstructed there.

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