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||RUSSIAN TIME||40||1:01:27.183|
|2.||Norman Nato||Racing Engineering||40||+ 1.541|
|3.||Oliver Rowland||MP Motorsport||40||+ 3.187|
|4.||Alex Lynn||DAMS||40||+ 8.239|
|5.||Mitch Evans||Pertamina Campos Racing||40||+ 11.723|
|6.||Raffaele Marciello||RUSSIAN TIME||40||+ 15.025|
|7.||Marvin Kirchhöfer||Carlin||40||+ 21.153|
|8.||Nobuharu Matsushita||ART Grand Prix||40||+ 21.582|
|9.||Daniel de Jong||MP Motorsport||40||+ 22.343|
|10.||Arthur Pic||Rapax||40||+ 23.333|
|11.||Antonio Giovanazzi*||PREMA Racing||40||+ 25.037|
|12.||Sergio Canamasas||Carlin||40||+ 30.192|
|13.||Sean Galeal||Pertamina Campos Racing||40||+ 31.295|
|14.||Gustav Malja*||Rapax||40||+ 39.900|
|15.||Pierre Gasly||PREMA Racing||40||+ 49.748|
|16.||Philo Paz Armand||Trident||39||1 lap behind|
|DNF.||Jimmy Eriksson||Arden International||32||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Jordan King||Racing Engineering||27||Accident|
|DNF.||Nabil Jeffri||Arden International||23||Accident|
|DNF.||Sergey Sirotkin||ART Grand Prix||22||Accident|
- 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