SPRINT RACE 1: Ticktum masters slippery Sochi conditions en route to victory
Sochi (Russia), September 25, 2021: Carlin’s Dan Ticktum converted reverse grid pole to victory at the Sochi Autodrom on Saturday, dominating the delayed Sprint Race 1 in Russia. The race was postponed from Saturday morning to late afternoon, as treacherous conditions forced a deferred start time.
Jüri Vips was second on the road and bagged his fifth podium of the 2021 campaign, while Robert Shwartzman enjoyed a strong home race, taking the final podium position on offer in third place.
Ticktum was placed under pressure early in the race by Hitech Grand Prix’s Vips, however the Estonian driver couldn’t make the pass, not risking a move onto the wet surface that existed off the dry racing line.
From there, the Carlin driver pulled out a gap and stayed ahead of the pack to secure his second race win of the season.
AS IT HAPPENED
There was drama before the race even got underway. On the way to the grid, the UNI-Virtuosi duo of Felipe Drugovich and Guanyu Zhou spun with the former making heavy contact with the wall and retiring. Zhou, who is currently in championship contention, managed to avoid the barriers but stalled his car and was unable to take the start of the race.
With just one dry racing line on the track following the morning’s torrential rain, the pack ran two formation laps behind the Safety Car before being released for a rolling start. All drivers kept it clean in the opening stages, with Vips and his Hitech teammate Liam Lawson threatening Ticktum’s lead.
The first of two Virtual Safety Cars was deployed on lap four after Bent Viscaal retired. Upon its conclusion some two laps later, championship leader Oscar Piastri got out of shape and was overtaken by ART Grand Prix’s Christian Lundgaard for 10th. But Piastri’s troubles were not over, as a further wide moment at Turn 10 saw him drop behind Marcus Armstrong and Richard Verschoor.
Back at the front, one driver was taken out of contention for the win as Lawson made a mistake at Turn 13 while running in third place, damaging the left rear of his car, which forced him to park his car in a run-off area. The mistake promoted Shwartzman into the final podium position.
Another VSC was needed to safely clear Lawson’s stricken Hitech, and at the succeeding restart, Jehan Daruvala pounced on Théo Pourchaire and Ralph Boschung to move into fifth. While Pourchaire settled into sixth after moving ahead of Boschung on the run into Turn 2.
At the halfway stage of the race, Ticktum held a four second lead, aided by a mistake from Vips at the final corner. However, Vips would soon eat back into the gap, bringing it back down to just over two seconds in the following laps.
Jake Hughes had a sniff at a podium finish for HWA RACELAB, having run in fourth place for much of the race following Lawson’s retirement. The Briton battled Shwartzman who made a mistake at Turn 10, the PREMA driver dropped behind Hughes for a few 100 metres before moving back ahead in the Turn 12 braking zone.
As the drivers searched for the extra points for the fastest lap, it was Pourchaire who prevailed, clocking a 1:50.669 on lap 16. However, trouble befell Carlin’s Daruvala, who spun at Turn 16 and dropped out of the points and into 12th in the final order.
With the top three consisting of Ticktum, Vips and Shwartzman, Hughes held off Pourchaire in the final laps to take fourth, marking HWA’s best-ever result in F2. Ralph Boschung was sixth, surviving to the chequered flag despite a series of tyre lockups into Turn 2. Lundgaard was seventh ahead of Verschoor who took the final point up for grabs in eighth.
KEY QUOTE – Dan Ticktum (Carlin)
“I’m pretty happy with that, it was sketchy to say the least, pretty scary! I said on the radio on the grid ‘if I’m scared, then it’s probably quite bad.’ To come away with a win is amazing.
“I’m very, very happy. Juri was pretty fast, especially at the start. In the middle of the race, I heard he was closing the gap so I had to push a lot more. Taking risks in those sort of conditions is difficult, but I’m happy with the win.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP VIEW
Piastri and Zhou remain at the head of the Championship with 153 and 134 points respectively, despite failing to register points in the Sprint Race. Shwartzman has closed the gap and now sits on 123 points ahead of Ticktum on 119 and Vips on 102.
PREMA remain top in the Teams’ battle with 276 points, ahead of Carlin on 200 points and UNI-Virtuosi, who have 193 points. Hitech Grand Prix are fourth with 174 while ART Grand Prix are fifth with 143 points.
With this weekend’s schedule altered in light of the adverse weather conditions on Saturday morning, Sprint Race 2 will not be held.