Artem Markelov has once again proved himself to be a master at tyre wear management with a calculated drive to victory in Sunday’s Formula 2 Sprint Race at Jerez.
With hot ambient and track temperatures leading to unexpectedly high tyre wear, Sunday’s 28-lap race proved to be a tactical affair which came to life in its final laps.
The Russian driver had run in third place behind series debutante Álex Palou and DAMS’ Nicholas Latifi for much of the race, driving a patient race in the hope that his rivals’ tyres would fade in the closing stages.
With six laps to go the Russian Time driver pounced, diving up the inside of Latifi under braking at Turn 1 to move into second place. His superior traction proved enough to get him ahead of Palou on the run from Turn 5 to Curva Dry Sac.
Palou kept Latifi at bay for another lap before the Canadian was able to work ahead, by which point Markelov had skipped away and built a four-second cushion which extended to nearly 12 seconds by the chequered flag.
Palou’s impressive run came to an end as his tyres hit the metaphorical cliff, plunging the Spanish youngster down the order. He would narrowly hold off Alexander Albon in a sprint to the finish line, but eighth place was a poor reward after a fine drive.
Latifi’s DAMS teammate Oliver Rowland rounded out the podium, while behind them came Luca Ghiotto, Antonio Fuoco, Nyck de Vries and Charles Leclerc who all opted to make a pit stop during the race. Leclerc had climbed up to fourth place by the final lap, but the newly-crowned champion’s second set of tyres were completely shot and he slipped to seventh by the chequered flag.
Image via FIA Formula 2 Championship