Tatiana Calderon ends 15th in Sochi feature race
BWT Arden driver Tatiana Calderon completed a tyre-management race in 15th, showing good pace on old tyres in the final stages.
After completing a testing day with W-Series in Almeria, Spain, Colombian Tatiana Calderon was back to her Formula 2 "office" this weekend in Sochi, Russia, for the penultimate round of the 2019 highest-ranked feeder series.
Following the tragic events in Spa Francorchamps, BWT Arden was back to a two-cars operation, with home hero and experienced F2 driver Artem Markelov on the second car alongside Calderon.
The young Colombian qualified 18th in yesterday's qualifying, ahead of Marino Sato and Mahaveer Raghunathan. When the lights went out, poleman Nyck De Vries had a brilliant getaway and safely held the lead at the first corner from Latifi and Ilott. Calderon had way too much wheelspin and lost a couple of positions that immediately made back at turn two, as several cars took the inside and outside run-off areas. Both Alesi and Zhou received 5 seconds penalties for rejoing the track without respecting the bollard.
Mick Schumacher, starting from the 11th grid slot, made up four positions in the first lap and charged towards the leading positions. His pursuit was then temporarily halted by Artem Markelov, who had stopped on track and forced the race direction to deploy the Virtual Safety Car.
As the race went back to green, Deletraz took advantage of Schumacher's slow restart and passed him, while the two UNI Virtuosi drivers engaged in a close battle that ultimately saw Luca Ghiotto emerging in front. And with the drivers who had started on the softer compound already struggling for grip as soon as lap 3, it was again Luca Ghiotto to quickly storm through the field: the Italian passed Ilott, catched race leader De Vries and forced his way into the lead, maximizing the higher grip of his medium tyres.
Both Schumacher and a very impressive Nikita Mazepin moved past Latifi and, as soon as it was allowed at lap six, all the drivers on options dived into the pitlane for their mandatory stops.
Calderon, also on softs, opted to stay out for a couple more laps and briefly ran in 9th position, before making her stop on lap 8.
Mazepin swapped positions with Schumacher before finally making a move stick one lap later, with the Prema driver also locking up at turn 13: the mistake allowed Matsushita to close in and then pass Mick at turn 1.
Notoriously good in high-degradation situations, Calderon's pace started to turn competitive towards the second half of the race, as she started to lap quicker than some drivers that still had to stop due to the alternate strategies. When Sato pitted, the 26-year old girl advanced to P16.
On lap 18, a menacing cloud of smoke started to come out of the back of Schumacher's Prema car, but the German's lap-times didn't look to be affected until, a couple of laps later, Mick took the way of the pitlane and retired.
Formula 2 rookie Matevos Isaakyan, making his debut this weekend on the second Charouz-Sauber car, made a second stop that promoted Calderon to P15.
With 24-laps old medium tyres, race leader Luca Ghiotto started to lose performance on his rears and pitted: the Italian emerged in 4th, right behind De Vries, Latifi and Deletraz, but with brand-new super-softs. With four laps to go, the UNI Virtuosi driver went on full attack mode and took third place away from Deletraz. He signed the fastest lap of the race on lap 27, but time had run out: his Pirelli tyres had already gone off the cliff and, incredibly, was re-overtaken on the last lap by Swiss Deletraz, with a daring move at turn 13.
With a 4 and a half seconds lead, Nyck De Vries crossed the line to win his third feature race this season and, most importantly, sealed the 2019 Formula 2 title.
The newly announced Mercedes Formula E driver succeeds George Russell and Charles Leclerc as the new F2 era champion.
Tatiana Calderon finished 15th, after a positive first race of the weekend. She signed her best lap in 1:53.351 and was very constant on the 1:53 pace throughout the final stages, lapping almost 5 seconds faster than Boschung ahead. But with no Safety Cars in the second part of the race, it wasn't enough to catch the group of struggling drivers ahead and took home a promising 15th place for tomorrow's sprint race.
The second race in Sochi Autodrom will start tomorrow at 11:20 local time (10:20 CET), with
home-driver Nikita Mazepin starting from reverse grid pole and Tatiana Calderon taking the start from the eighth row.
Ph credits: Formula 2 media