The first flyaway event of the season sees the FIA Formula 2 Championship visit the Russian city of Sochi for Round 10.

WHEN TO WATCH All times local (GMT +3)

Friday Free Practice: 09:35 – 10:20 Qualifying: 14:00 – 14:30 Press conference: 16:45 Saturday Feature race: 10:15 (28 laps) Press conference: 11:35 Sunday Sprint race: 10:55 (21 laps) Press conference: 12:00

THE STORY SO FAR

With nine rounds of the 2020 Formula 2 season completed, the quest for the Championship crown is far from over. Mick Schumacher leads the standings for the first time after Mugello’s action, where Nikita Mazepin scored his second F2 win from 14th on the grid in an incredible Feature Race, before Christian Lundgaard dominated the Sprint Race to take victory by over 14s.

Jüri Vips topped his first session of the campaign in Free Practice, beating out Luca Ghiotto by less than a tenth of a second. Qualifying was even closer, as Lundgaard snatched his maiden F2 pole position by just 0.005s ahead of Dan Ticktum.

The Dane looked to have the measure of Mugello and tore off into the distance on Saturday afternoon, only to be dragged back into the chasing pack by the Safety Car late on. Strategy proved to be crucial, and with leaders Lundgaard and Ghiotto on worn hard-compound tyres, Mazepin sat third with fresh softs, waiting to pounce at the restart. The Russian did just that, diving down the inside of Turn 1 to take the lead with three laps to go. Ghiotto somehow held second place for a Hitech one-two, with the charging Louis Delétraz finishing third.

Lundgaard made amends on Sunday. Starting from third on the reverse grid, he fired his ART machine into the lead through the first corner and never looked back. Delétraz made it a double-podium weekend in second, with Vips scoring his first F2 podium finish in third place.

The challengers

Solid point-scoring from Schumacher (161 pts) last time out means he leads the Drivers’ Championship heading into Round 10, despite his run of podium finishes coming to an end. Callum Ilott (153) slips to second, eight points behind. Lundgaard (145) climbs two places to third, with Robert Shwartzman (140) dropping to fourth ahead of Mazepin (127).

PREMA Racing (301 pts) continue to increase their lead over UNI-Virtuosi (261) in the Teams’ Championship, with the gap now 40 points. Hitech Grand Prix (216) add to their tally in third, with ART Grand Prix (181) following in fourth place. Carlin (149) remain fifth.

The Sochi Autodrom hosts F2 this weekend. With heavy tyre degradation not likely to be an issue, there will be strategy options on Pirelli’s medium and supersoft compounds. Weaving through the Olympic Park, the drivers have their sights set on a different prize in the race for the title!

FROM THE GRID – NIKITA MAZEPIN (HITECH GRAND PRIX)

“The main thing I like about the circuit is the fact that it's located in Sochi, Russia, which is reasonably close to my hometown where I was born. So many Russian fans come to watch us race, and I think the support from the Russian people is enormous compared to what we normally receive at other circuits on the calendar.

“My best memory from there is the 2018 race in GP3, where I took pole position which I then lost later on due to making a mistake in the rules. I recovered from eighth on the grid to finish second in the Feature Race.

“Tyre management will probably be a factor this weekend, but I wouldn't say it's going to have as big of an impact like at other circuits due to the microroughness of the circuit not being very high.

“The track itself is quite a strange one. It's not like the circuits that we normally race on in Europe. I think the corners and the speeds are different. The main challenge will be the high speeds at the end of Turn 2, where you can overtake, or be overtaken, very easily.

“As a result, Turn 2 will probably see the most overtakes during the races, and potentially Turn 13 too, but the track at Sochi is one of the big overtaking tracks. I think the fans will see a lot of action across the circuit.

“My hopes and expectations are simply to do very well. I think we've already shown that we've been very strong this year, on different tracks with different degradation levels, and therefore I don’t think that there is any reason why we should not be competitive in Sochi.”

TYRE TALK – MARIO ISOLA (PIRELLI’S HEAD OF F1 AND CAR RACING)

“It has been an incredibly exciting season in Formula 2 so far and the title fight still looks to be wide open going into the final three rounds. In contrast to the previous venue at Mugello, the circuit in Sochi is not especially demanding for tyres. We will take this opportunity to use the supersoft version of the 18-inch tyres alongside the medium, which should create an interesting performance differential between the two compounds, with a knock-on effect regarding tyre strategy and management. Thanks this interesting variable, we hope to see yet more of the great wheel-to-wheel action that has characterised this season so far.”

STAT PACK

  • The F2 race lap record at the Sochi Autodrom is 1:50.501, set by George Russell with ART Grand Prix in 2018.
  • Jüri Vips became the 15th unique podium finisher of the season last time out in Mugello, matching the record of unique podium finishers in a season (2018).
  • Last weekend, Dan Ticktum became the 13th driver to set a fastest lap this season, setting a record for unique drivers to set a fastest lap in a single season of the modern era of Formula 2.
  • Mick Schumacher has scored points in his last 10 F2 races, the longest current run in the Championship.
  • MP Motorsport and Nobuharu Matsushita have parted company, with Giuliano Alesi making the switch to the No.14 car. Jake Hughes will drive BWT HWA RACELAB’s No.17 car in Sochi, making his F2 debut having finished his second FIA Formula 3 campaign with the outfit in Mugello.
  • Artem Markelov, Nikita Mazepin and Robert Shwartzman will all be competing in their home event this weekend.
  • Luca Ghiotto is the only previous winner of a Formula 2 race in Sochi on the grid this weekend. The Italian won 2019’s Sprint Race.
  • Five different drivers have taken pole position this season. A sixth different pole-sitter this weekend would equal the record for unique pole positions in a season in the modern era of F2 (2019).
  • An 11th different race winner of the season this weekend would set a record for unique winners in a season in the modern era of F2 (2017 & 2018 = 10).