Zhou claims first F2 win as huge crash shortens race to five laps | Formula 2

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 eleventh 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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