Start, F2, Sochi, 2018

Albon grabs win as pit error wrecks Norris’s title hopes

Formula Two

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Alexander Albon won an eventful Formula Two race in Sochi and moved up to second in the championship ahead of Lando Norris, whose title hopes were wrecked by a botched pit stop.

A slow start saw Norris immediately slip behind DAMS pair behind Nicolas Latifi and Albon. Nyck de Vries held his lead from pole ahead of championship leader George Russell while home racer Artem Markelov grabbed 10 places on the first lap, rising to ninth.

Norris had slipped back to eighth by lap two, while championship leader Russell was overtaken by Albon. However Antonio Fuoco, on the harder tyres, passed the lot of them, and Markelov used the same rubber to rise to third.

With the soft tyre degrading rapidly several drivers pitted soon after the pit window opened. De Vries, Norris and Russell were among those to come in, but Norris inexplicably swerved into the Trident pit box by mistake. He drove on to the waiting Carlin team, but was then released before his front-right wheel was fitted, ruining his race.

Markelov pulled out a gap of over 30 seconds back to De Vries, who was leading those who had pitted. However a radio call from Markelov’s engineer revealed communication problems at Russian Time. This meant their driver was left out on degrading tyres, having to guess when to pit

Second-placed Albon pitted smoothly on lap nine and rejoined ahead of De Vries, giving himself the effective lead of the race with only those yet to make stops ahead of him. Markelov, however, came in on lap 20, clearly without communication as Russian Time weren’t ready for a pit stop and his resultant eight-lap stint on the super-softs was too long. He rejoined 11th, 40 seconds off the lead.

Albon was able to repeat Markelov’s charge to the front, picking off any cars ahead of him not wise enough to pit and extending a lead over both De Vries and Latifi, locked in a fight that stopped either closing the gap.

A lock-up by De Vries let Latifi through, with the DAMS teammates in one-two for the last three laps of a chaotic race, won commandingly by Albon whose calm management of alternate strategy paid off once again. Latifi in second and De Vries in third joined him on the podium.

Two cars retired on the first lap, Markelov’s teammate Tadasuke Makino was involved in a turn one incident that saw Luca Ghiotto limp back to the pits and end his race. Sean Gelael’s Prema, meanwhile, didn’t make it off the grid with a revisit of clutch issues that dogged the series earlier this year.

Albon’s win moves the future Formula E racer ahead of Norris in the F2 standings on 201 points, 30 behind Russell, who came in fourth. With 65 points remaining over the last three races, Russell’s championship position looks increasingly strong.

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    Hazel Southwell
    Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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  • 11 comments on “Albon grabs win as pit error wrecks Norris’s title hopes”

    1. Unlucky Markelov, he was spectacular in the first few laps. Would have liked to see Albon have a shot at F1 but he’s got a great seat in Formula E and the way things are going that could be the place to be in a few years.

      1. I don’t think FE will be the place to be anytime soon. F1 is still the pinnacle, and although FE might be more exciting with closer racing, 99% of FE drivers would bite your hand off if you gave them a chance to be in F1. F1 is the fastest sport out of all, and the ones drivers dream of one-day racing in. If all drivers wanted was close, exciting racing with near-equal performance, then why graduate from F2? Bottom line is, FE is not going to displace F1 as the place to be, not for decades at the very least.

        1. @mashiat I was thinking more along the lines of multiple F1 teams collapsing (Williams the most at risk), and then one manufacturer or Red Bull pulls out, the whole thing comes crashing down… FE currently has a much less risky future.

          1. In the past, when F1 was short of entrants, the World Championships were determined by F2 cars. Although FE didn’t exist then I’m sure the F1 grids are more likely to be made up with F2 entrants rather than disappearing… and certainly not disappearing in favour of FE.
            It is more likely that F1 will ‘allow’ electric power units – one day – but I can’t see that happening for another ten years – at least…
            To take over, FE has to be able to run on F1 circuits, for at least 90 mins. At the moment it’s just not in the same league…
            Just a thought.

          2. @tflb Then I guess three-car teams will be the norm. And F1 will still remain the pinnacle.

            1. @mashiat Where are you going to get three car teams from if there are no teams left? Or if there are just a few teams – tiny grid. Well, we’ll have to wait and see I suppose.

    2. Some corrections if I may, Hazel…
      Albon came in together with De Vries so he was already the effective leader after the top had pitted.
      Then Norris himself drove away to soon after/during the pitstop. He apologised on the team radio.

      What the championship is concerned, Albon has reduced Russel’s lead and he is on strong form. It’s not over just yet…

    3. It’s hard to believe that Albon woun’t be in Toro Rosso next year, it’s hard to understand their decision making. He’s maybe faster than Norris.

      Markelov seens to have a big problem with super softs, he qualified poorly half of the weekends and even with the pitstop errors he could easily have finished in 7-8, but his pace with super softs is awful.

    4. Hi Hazel,

      I believe the amount of points remaining is 65.

      Race 2 Sochi – 15 for the win + 2 for fastest lap = 17
      Qualifying Abu Dhabi – 4 for pole position
      Race 1 Abu Dhabi – 25 for the win + 2 for fastest lap = 27
      Race 2 Abu Dhabi – 15 for the win + 2 for fastest lap = 17

    5. The headline is somewhat misleading.. Norris ruined his start and messed up his pitstop. He did it all by himself..
      Combining F1 testing and F2 racing indeed seems to much for him.

      1. Reading the headline I also first thought Albon had caused the pit error…

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