Calderon 16th in shortened Sochi second race
Formula 2 racer Tatiana Calderon completed a red-flag delayed race in 16th place, following a major accident between Matsushita and Mazepin on the first lap.
Formula 2 second race at the Sochi Autodrom saw the green light with home-hero Nikita Mazepin taking the start from the first row alongside Jack Aitken: as the drivers went side by side down the long straight towards turn two, both the leading pair went wide and collided while rejoining the track around the bollards, igniting a massive accident that involved the innocent Nobuharu Matsushita. The Japanese driver went hard into the Tecpro barriers and was then hit for a second time by the ART of Mazepin, bringing out the red flag.
After almost an hour of stoppage, teams and drivers anxiously awaited for news about Matsushita's conditions, as the medical team extricated him from the wrecked car and replay of the crash were not shown on the live feed.
Series officials announced then that both Mazepin (who had got off the car under his own power) and Matsushita were transferred to the local hospital for precautionary checks and neither of them had suffered fractures.
With barriers being repaired, the race could resume behind the Safety Car for a shortened 15-laps sprint race.
Luca Ghiotto had inherited the lead during the first lap mayhem, ahead of newly-crowned Nyck De Vries and Callum Ilott. Tatiana Calderon, who finished yesterday's race in 15th and had thus taken the start from the eighth row, found herself in 14th place at the second start.
At the green flag, Ghiotto safely maintained the lead, while De Vries briefly took second away from Ilott, with the Brit not giving up the position easily: the Sauber Junior driver went side by side with his opponent and reclaimed his position at turn 4.
DAMS teammates switched positions for fourth, before Sette Camara was announced among the several drivers receiving penalties for leaving the track and gaining an advantage. The Brazilian was handed a 5 seconds penalty, like Raghunathan and Boschung, while Deletraz received a 10" penalty.
Mick Schumacher and Artem Markelov, starting from the very back of the field, found themselves in the top 10. Mick engaged in a close battle with Alesi and the two sons of former F1 drivers banged wheels at turn 14, with King taking advantage from the fight.
Once again, the unlucky Schumacher was forced to retire soon after, likely for damages sustained in the contact.
Calderon dropped to 17th in the very initial stages, as she was passed by Aitken, Deletraz and Sato in a single lap. The Colombian then won the battle with Raghunathan and ran steadily in P16 for most of the remaining laps.
With a shortened race, Calderon partly lost her advantage in tyre management, as the BWT Arden driver notably is very gentle on tyres. After a couple of struggling laps in the 1:56, she started to lap consistently in the low 1:54, briefly faster than Marino Sato ahead. But it wasn't ultimately enough to catch the group of cars ahead and finished a relatively solitary race in P16.
On lap 10, race leader Luca Ghiotto came under intese pressure from both De Vries and Ilott, with all the top 6 drivers covered in less than a second from each other and with DRS available.
5 laps of intense action followed, as Ghiotto held on and brought home a closely fought victory ahead of De Vries and Ilott. Latifi was fourth after his teammate penalty was applied, while Zhou rounded out the top-5.
Sean Gelael finished in a solid 7th and Giuliano Alesi took the last available point, while series returnee Artem Markelov dropped in the latter stages of the race to 10th, outside the points paying positions.
Completing the European rounds of the season, Formula 2 will now make its return on the F1 schedule at the Abu Dhabi GP, on 30th November.
With Calderon already completing the pre-season tests at Yas Marina Circuit last year in Formula 2 machinery, the Colombian lady will now look forward to complete her debut season in the highest F1 feeder series on a high in the Emirates.
Ph credits: Formula 2 media