Artem Markelov delivered another demonstration in tyre preservation with a superb drive to victory in the Formula 2 Sprint Race at Bahrain.

The Renault test driver benefited from rivals ahead of him stalling on the grid to vault from sixth on the grid to move into third by the first corner. He soon passed reversed-grid pole-sitter Maximilian Günther to move into second and then moved into the lead when early leader Nyck de Vries opted to gamble on making a pit stop midway through the race.

De Vries hopped into the lead after making a better start than Günther when the lights went out, but his fortunes were better than PREMA Racing teammate Sean Gelael who stalled from the front row of the reversed grid on the formation lap and had to start the race from the pit lane along with DAMS’ Nicholas Latifi.

Talented as he is, De Vries is not yet renowned for his ability to preserve his tyres and was highly unlikely to hang onto his race lead to the chequered flag. PREMA opted to mirror the approach it used for Charles Leclerc at last year’s Sprint Race where the Monegasque driver famously charged through the field to claim victory. The Dutch driver’s gamble did not pay off however, although he did climb back to fifth place by the chequered flag with a succession of clinical overtaking moves on fresher tyres.

With Markelov now in the lead, the Russian Time driver was able to build an unchallenged gap to the chequered flag ahead of Günther, who became increasingly concerned over the pit-to-car radio as the Carlin duo of Sergio Sette Câmara and Feature Race winner Lando Norris started to close in during the final laps.

Norris had earlier lost ground when his car suffered a momentary cut-out on the start/finish straight, but he kept his cool to ensure he maintained his lead in the Drivers’ Championship with a nine-point buffer to Markelov.

Günther’s cause was helped as Norris closed in onto Sette Câmara, who had to switch from attack to defence in the final laps of the race.

The top four remained in that order, with Markelov claiming his seventh race win in F1’s feeder series.

De Vries charged from thirteenth to fifth on his second tyre set, finishing ahead of Luca Ghiotto (Campos Racing), Ralph Boschung (MP Motorsport) and Nirei Fukuzumi (Arden) who rounded out the points’ finishers.

A number of more fancied runners finished well down the order thanks to a number of stalls at the start. Both ART drivers Jack Aitken and George Russell couldn’t get off the line and somehow avoided being hit by those behind them, and finished out of the points in 18th and 19th places respectively.

The Formula 2 Championship stages its second round of the 2018 season in support of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on April 27-29.


2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship Race of Bahrain – Provisional Sprint Race Results (23 laps)
Driver Team / Entry Laps Result Pts
1. Artem Markelov Russian Time 23 42:42.161 15
2. Maximilian Günther de BWT Arden International 23 + 2.105 12
3. Sergio Sette Câmara Carlin Motorsport 23 + 3.803 10
4. Lando Norris uk Carlin Motorsport 23 + 5.043 8
5. Nyck de Vries Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 23 + 10.265 6
6. Luca Ghiotto it Campos Vexatec Racing 23 + 15.696 4
7. Ralph Boschung ch MP Motorsport 23 + 23.511 2
8. Nirei Fukuzumi BWT Arden International 23 + 24.582 1
9. Louis Delétraz Charouz Racing System 23 + 25.194
10. Nicholas Latifi DAMS 23 + 25.687
11. Roberto Merhi es MP Motorsport 23 + 25.804
12. Antonio Fuoco Charouz Racing System 23 + 26.638
13. Alexander Albon DAMS 23 + 31.759
14. Arjun Maini in Trident Racing 23 + 36.793
15. Roy Nissany Campos Vexatec Racing 23 + 43.989
16. Sean Gelael Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 23 + 57.845
17. Tadasuke Makino Russian Time 23 + 1:03.819
18. Jack Aitken uk ART Grand Prix 23 + 1:39.757
19. George Russell uk ART Grand Prix 22 + 1 lap
20. Santino Ferrucci Trident Racing 22 + 1 lap

Post-Race Penalties:

  • None

Image via FIA Formula 2 Championship

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Geoff Burke

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