Russian Time’s Artem Markelov has taken a surprise maiden victory in Friday’s dramatic GP2 Series Feature Race at Monaco after taking advantage of two Virtual Safety Car periods, elevating himself to the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings with his win.

The Russian, who crashed out of qualifying yesterday, started from fifteenth place on Prime tyres and drove a stellar first stint, at one point posting lap times two seconds faster than the competition who were on fresh Option tyres. His big break came when Luca Ghiotto stopped just before Portier, causing a second Virtual Safety Car period which played right into Markelov’s hand.

The timing of the second VSC allowed Markelov to endure minimum time loss and by the time the VSC ended he had converted a 15-second lead into almost a 50-second lead. Gaining over half-a-minute in an effective suspension of the race caught the eye of many, and it is expected that his race win will be protested by a number of rival teams.

With the race time limit ticking down on the screen, Markelov finally went in for his mandatory pit stop and emerged fractionally ahead of a stunned Norman Nato who was all over his back with enough time for only two laps. Nato eventually had to settle for second as Markelov’s tyres were up to temperature and he was able to pull away.

Nato, who started second, had taken the lead at the start and controlled his race beautifully ahead of pole-sitter Sergey Sirotkin and Racing Engineering’s Jordan King.

After taking himself out of the Feature Race in Barcelona two weeks ago, Sirotkin again retired due to driver error after he clipped the wall exiting the Swimming Pool chicane, handing second place to King, who then also made an error that put him out of the race.

This put Oliver Rowland right behind Nato and after a slow stop from the Frenchman, the MP Motorsport driver attempted to get past Nato during his short battle with Markelov but eventually finished third to claim his first GP2 Series podium finish.

Alex Lynn finished fourth for DAMS ahead of Mitch Evans, Raffaele Marciello, Antonio Giovinazzi and Marvin Kirchhöfer. The German not only collects his first points’ finish but will also claim the reverse-grid pole position for Saturday’s Sprint Race.

That is, of course, assuming Markelov is allowed to keep his race win…

2016 GP2 Series Monaco – Feature Race Final Classification (40 laps)
Driver Team / Entry Laps Result
1. Artem Markelov ru RUSSIAN TIME 40 1:01:27.183
2. Norman Nato fr Racing Engineering 40 + 1.541
3. Oliver Rowland uk MP Motorsport 40 + 3.187
4. Alex Lynn uk DAMS 40 + 8.239
5. Mitch Evans nz Pertamina Campos Racing 40 + 11.723
6. Raffaele Marciello it RUSSIAN TIME 40 + 15.025
7. Marvin Kirchhöfer de Carlin 40 + 21.153
8. Nobuharu Matsushita jp ART Grand Prix 40 + 21.582
9. Daniel de Jong nl MP Motorsport 40 + 22.343
10. Arthur Pic fr Rapax 40 + 23.333
11. Antonio Giovanazzi* it PREMA Racing 40 + 25.037
12. Sergio Canamasas es Carlin 40 + 30.192
13. Sean Galeal id Pertamina Campos Racing 40 + 31.295
14. Gustav Malja* se Rapax 40 + 39.900
15. Pierre Gasly fr PREMA Racing 40 + 49.748
16. Philo Paz Armand id Trident 39 1 lap behind
DNF. Luca Ghiotto it Trident 35 Mechanical
DNF. Jimmy Eriksson se Arden International 32 Mechanical
DNF. Jordan King uk Racing Engineering 27 Accident
DNF. Nabil Jeffri my Arden International 23 Accident
DNF. Sergey Sirotkin ru ART Grand Prix 22 Accident
DNF. Nicholas Latifi ca DAMS 21 Accident

*Post-Race Penalties:

  • Antonio Giovanazzi – who was originally classified in seventh place – was awarded a 5-second post-race time penalty for leaving the track at Turn 10 and gaining an advantage.
  • Gustav Malja – who was originally classified in fourteenth place – was awarded a 5-second post-race time penalty for leaving the track at Turn 1 and gaining an advantage.

Image via GP2 Series Media

The following two tabs change content below.

Ahmad Shallouf

Contributing Writer at MotorsportM8