George Russell claimed his sixth victory of the season in a rain-hit sprint race at Sochi to edge ever closer to sealing the 2018 Formula 2 Championship title.

The ART Grand Prix driver made a storming start to lead the early stages before a mid-race rain shower threatened to turn the race on its head, but Russell held his nerve amid the difficult conditions to seal a convincing win.

Starting from fifth, Russell was among a number of drivers who skipped Turn 2 on the opening lap as he made early progress to move into second after Alessio Lorandi and Nicholas Latifi came together under braking at Turn 5 in an incident that brought out the Safety Car.

When racing resumed the Mercedes Formula 1 junior closed onto the back of reverse grid polesitter Nirei Fukuzumi, before passing the Arden driver on the run to Turn 2 on the fifth lap.

Despite having to make an unscheduled pit stop due to the rain, Russell quickly regained first place when he passed erstwhile leaders Antonio Fuoco and Louis Deletraz, who both remained out on slick tyres as Charouz Racing System gambled on the hope conditions would dry out. 

From there on in the Briton controlled proceedings, crossing the line over seven seconds clear of Carlin’s Sergio Sette Camara, who held off a late attack from title hopeful Alexander Albon to secure second place by just 0.7s.

The result puts Russell on the brink of sealing back-to-back titles with ART as he stretched out his F2 points lead over Albon to 37 heading into the final round of the season in Abu Dhabi.

Prema’s Nyck de Vries pulled off a late pass on Artem Markelov to take fourth place, while Roberto Merhi made it consecutive points finishes on his return to the series with Campos in sixth.

The former F1 driver finished ahead of Fukuzumi and Dorian Boccolacci, who rounded out the top eight to score the final point on offer for MP Motorsport.

A nightmare weekend in Russia ended in retirement for F1-bound Lando Norris, who witnessed his F2 title hopes fade away.

The McLaren protégé received a 10 second stop/go penalty for being out of position on the formation lap before he retired in the closing stages having picked up a puncture while battling Trident’s Arjun Maini.

F2 Russia Sprint Race Full Results.

COTA #2 - Tremendous Turn 1