Russian Time’s Artem Markelov opened up the FIA Formula 2 championship in Bahrain with a thrilling victory after an action packed feature race saw him overtake Norman Nato for the lead on the penultimate lap, pairing strategy with a brilliant drive.
Charles Leclerc had a good start from pole position to keep his first place ahead of a surging Norman Nato. The Frenchman managed to overtake Leclerc for the lead but as soon as DRS was available, the Monegasque got his lead back as Nato struggled with tyre wear.
Nato was soon overtaken by Markelov as the pit stop window opened and the drivers took on the soft compound prompting a stop from Nato. Leclerc soon followed suit just as Markelov was right behind and emerged narrowly ahead of Nato, but the Arden driver was on warmer tyres and quickly overtook Leclerc.
Markelov, however, decided to wait for another two laps before pitting which cost him time on much older tyres and when he did pit he’d lost 10 seconds to Nato’s lead.
His charge was perfectly timed, as he opted to preserve his tyres and quietly follow Leclerc until a few laps from the finish when he started taking chunks out of Leclerc’s gap, before swiftly moving past the PREMA coming out of the final turn.
It took another lap for the Russian to close in on Nato and he made light work of the Arden on the run up to Turn 4 to take the lead on the penultimate lap and win his second race in the series and the first since another brilliant driver in the Monaco feature race last year, ironically also coming from behind and finishing ahead of Nato.
Nato and Leclerc followed home in 2nd and 3rd ahead of Jordan King who recovered from a low starting position to finish a convincing 4th.
Behind them, Oliver Rowland came home in 5th ahead of ART’s Alexander Albon, who had mixed fortunes at the start and raced his way back to 6th. Luca Ghiotto was 7th and Nobuharu Matsushita came 8th and will start the sprint race from reverse-grid pole.
Antonio Fuoco’s day consistently turned worse after his penalty and he sunk down the order to finish 9th while Nyck de Vries slipped from 2nd on the grid to 10th despite a good race until after his pit stop, to round up the points-paying positions.
The sprint race will start on Sunday at 14:15 local time (GMT +3)
- Sergio Sette Camara received a 5-second time penalty after the race. The Brazilian driver was found to have pushed Ralph Boschung wide at Turn 3 as the pair tussled for position. Camara had originally finished P12 but the penalty means he drops to P13 in the final classification, promoting Boschung to 12th.
Image via FIA Formula 2 Media