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Sep 29 2020

Zhou takes first FIA F2 win for UNI-Virtuosi Racing at Sochi

UNI Virtuosi Racing added a fourth win to its tally for 2020 as Guanyu Zhou took his first ever FIA Formula 2 victory in the Sochi sprint race.

Renault Formula 1 test and development driver Zhou - who has two pole positions in the category - started from the front of the grid by virtue of finishing eighth in the feature race on Saturday, which gave him the best starting spot for the following day’s reversed-grid race.

Despite the strong tow afforded to following cars on the way to Turn 2 at the start, Chinese driver Zhou delivered a sensational start and fended off all comers into the braking zone, establishing a lead while others squabbled behind.

While in a commanding lead and saving his tyres for the end of the race, a red flag came out on lap nine, and due to the barrier repairs needed on the outside of Turn 3, the race was not restarted.

Zhou's UNI-Virtuosi team-mate Callum Ilott scored a strong podium in Saturday’s feature race to stay in contention for the overall FIA F2 championship.

On Sunday he was hit by another car at the start, and was running in seventh ahead of what was anticipated would be a comeback drive through the field, but a red flag halted progress.

It still allowed Ferrari Academy Driver Ilott to add points to his title push.

The series will return to action with two consecutive rounds - four races - in Bahrain, with the first on November 27-29.

Guanyu Zhou:

It was something amazing [to take a first F2 win].

I wanted that last year, we had the podiums last year but I always wanted that first victory and we came so close. We’ve had some struggle races, and this week starting on pole my target was to win the race and I think we did everything right in the beginning, getting the nice gap and pulling away with Nikita [Mazepin] from the rest of the pack. I knew the fight for for victory was with him more or less.

It's definitely amazing to have that victory, it’s been such a long, long time. It’s finally come around and I think once you hit it for the first time there should be more coming and I’m definitely going to keep working hard, keep pushing, try to achieve more and more race wins, podiums for the next two races.

Callum Ilott:

Race one, I didn’t get a good start at all but the first stint was good and I managed to get back up to P3. I was held a little bit coming out of the pits which meant I was under pressure on my out lap. I had to play catch-up a bit and used the tyres to catch the guys ahead so I used the tyres a bit too much and that’s when I was overtaken for second. It was a bit unfortunate at the end but we did have good speed, just had to push a bit too hard on the tyres. 

In race two we got a good start but made the wrong decision, I went to go down the left of Turn 2 at the start and I should have gone to the right. I had contact in Turn 2, little bit of damage but it was manageable. It was a shame not to restart and get some of those positions back but it happens. Not a bad weekend and some good points.

©Dutch Photo Agency