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||BWT Arden International||23||+ 2.105||12|
|3.||Sergio Sette Câmara||Carlin Motorsport||23||+ 3.803||10|
|4.||Lando Norris||Carlin Motorsport||23||+ 5.043||8|
|5.||Nyck de Vries||Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing||23||+ 10.265||6|
|6.||Luca Ghiotto||Campos Vexatec Racing||23||+ 15.696||4|
|7.||Ralph Boschung||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||MP Motorsport||23||+ 25.804|
|12.||Antonio Fuoco||Charouz Racing System||23||+ 26.638|
|13.||Alexander Albon||DAMS||23||+ 31.759|
|14.||Arjun Maini||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||ART Grand Prix||23||+ 1:39.757|
|19.||George Russell||ART Grand Prix||22||+ 1 lap|
|20.||Santino Ferrucci||Trident Racing||22||+ 1 lap|
Image via FIA Formula 2 Championship