After a week off following the Mugello round, the Formula 2 championship is about to hit the track in Sochi. The semi-permanent circuit was first used in 2014 and is based on roads around the Olympic Village. It is 5.853 kilometres long, with 18 corners, 12 to the right and six to the left. The first sector is very fast, while the third is much more technical and very much reflects its street circuit roots.
Home race. The round will be very special for Russian driver Robert Shwartzman, who has good reason to like his home track. It was here 12 months ago that the FDA (Ferrari Driver Academy) student clinched the 2019 Formula 3 championship title, after being second past the chequered flag in Race 1 behind team-mate Marcus Armstrong.
Leader. This year Shwartzman returns to Sochi at the wheel of a Formula 2 car. He is currently fourth in the championship, 21 points behind the leader, Mick Schumacher. After five consecutive podium finishes, including a win in the Monza Feature Race, Schumacher gritted his teeth in Mugello, bringing home a fifth and a fourth place fort a good points haul. It was enough to give him the series lead, 8 points ahead of Callum Ilott.
Callum. Last year, Schumacher failed to finish either race in Russia, whereas Ilott made it to the podium with a third place in the Sprint Race. In the Feature Race, Callum sufferered from excessive tyre degradation, something that could also affect this weekend’s activities. Pirelli is supplying the Medium and Supersoft tyres, which are the most difficult to manage over a race.
Marcus. Marcus Armstrong also has fond memories of Sochi, as he had a great weekend here in Formula 3 last year. The New Zealander won Race 1 and crucially, was runner-up in the second one, which saw him just move into second place in the championship. Twelve months on, Armstrong comes to Sochi having made a return to the top 10 at the last round in Mugello, after a somewhat difficult period.
New start. There’s a change of scene this weekend for Giuliano Alesi, as it was announced earlier this week that he is switching teams from HWA Racelab to MP Motorposrt. The Frenchman’s performance in the first part of the season has not lived up to expectations and now Alesi gets the change to see how things go with a different team, on a track where he finished in the points last year.
Busy weekend. “The final phase of a very intense season is about to get underway,” commented the technical head of the FDA, Marco Matassa. “Three of our Ferrari Driver Academy drivers in Formula 2 are in the hunt for the title. As a home race, it will be something special for Shwartzman, who is aiming to get back into the top three of the classification, before the final rush in Bahrain. It’s going to be an exciting weekend, given the very small points gaps in the classification. Sochi will also be important for Armstrong, who made a step forward in Mugello. He is not lacking in confidence and last year we already saw that he goes well at this track. Alesi is also going to have an interesting weekend, trying out a different car to the one he has driven so far this season.”