CEO Bruno Michel looks back at an eventful sixth round of the 2021 season and picks out his key topics from Sochi.
Michel discussed Piastri’s hat trick of poles, Carlin’s current form and the weather issues that struck Sochi.
HAT TRICK FOR PIASTRI
Oscar Piastri extended his lead even further in Sochi, taking a third pole position in a row after Silverstone and Monza. George Russell was the last driver to take a hat trick of poles, back in 2018, in a season where another driver took three pole positions in a row: Alex Albon.
Piastri went on to take the Feature Race win in Russia, his second in a row. He failed to score in the Sprint Race on Saturday, but so did his closest rival Guanyu Zhou. That was only the third time that Piastri has not scored points this season. His consistency has been strong. If he can maintain it in the final two rounds, he could be very hard to beat.
CARLIN OVERTAKE UNI-VIRTUOSI
It was a weekend to forget for Virtuosi, who saw both drivers unable to join the starting grid for the Sprint Race on Saturday. Felipe Drugovich had a pretty violent crash on his way to the grid, but fortunately, he was unscathed. Although, he was declared unfit for the Feature Race. Safety first, always.
This meant that Virtuosi could only count on Guanyu Zhou to add to their tally. Meanwhile, Carlin enjoyed another strong weekend, starting with Jehan Daruvala who secured a front row start on Friday. His teammate Dan Ticktum was less pleased with P10 in Qualifying, but that allowed him to start from the best seat in the Sprint Race. He transformed it into victory following a tricky race.
The next day, Daruvala grabbed third place, his fourth podium this year, while Ticktum took fifth from P10 on the grid. Thanks to 40 points scored in Russia, Carlin moved up to second in the Championship, 24 points ahead of Virtuosi. They’re 106 points behind PREMA Racing, with only two rounds left in 2021.
HIGHLIGHTS OF ROUND 6
Since Monza, Théo Pourchaire is back on true form. Last time out in Sochi, the young Frenchman qualified third, finished P5 in the Sprint Race and took second in the Feature Race. He added 26 points to his tally – that’s only three less than Piastri. Just like his F3 rival from 2020, Pourchaire has adapted to F2 with ease. He is currently fifth in the Championship, just 22 points behind Zhou in second. If the Frenchman brings this form to the final two rounds of the season, he could join the title race.
It may have been a slow start to Robert Shwartzman’s season, but since Baku, he grabbed two wins and five podiums, including one on home soil in Sochi last weekend, to the delight of his many fans on site. He is catching up with Zhou in the Standings, and the Russian will target teammate Piastri in the final two rounds.
THREE RACES BECAME TWO
Looking at the blue skies and the sun on Friday, it was difficult to believe that the forecast for Saturday was true. However, we anticipated the conditions and moved the first F3 race to Friday. If any running could be done on Saturday, it would allow F2 to have a Sprint Race. It was quite clear that we could not hope for two F2 races that day.
We tried to get things going in the morning, but the heavens truly opened once we reached the pitlane. Thankfully, the skies cleared long enough for the action to resume in the afternoon, with enough time for everyone to dry! At the end of the event, we could do two races, which given the circumstances was very lucky.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
I was very pleased to reveal our plans for next season, introducing our new race weekend format for 2022. I said it before, sporting-wise, the current format was a success, but as always, we look at things from every angle and it was true that the 2021 calendar has too many long gaps in between events.
Also, our stakeholders really want F2 and F3 on the same bill at F1 Grand Prix weekends. This led us to revise our format, with two races per weekend, but we keep the Sprint Race on Saturdays and the Feature Race as a curtain-raiser to the F1 Grand Prix on Sundays.
We will announce our 2022 calendar in the coming weeks, and I believe the fans will be quite happy with it.