Artem Markelov has returned to the Formula 2 Championship fight with victory in the Monaco Feature Race.
The Russian driver once again capitalised on his tyre management skills and a little bit of luck when race leaders Alexander Albon and Nyck de Vries took each other out of the race.
The 42-lap Feature Race promised plenty of drama – thanks to a number of more fancied drivers being buried down the starting grid – and delivered in spades.
As Albon and de Vries launched off the front row of the grid into first and second places, behind them Luca Ghiotto’s race was over in a matter of metres. The Italian, starting from fifth place on the grid, found his path forward blocked by his compatriot Antonio Fuoco. The Charouz Racing driver speared across to the right hand side of the track to try and counter for a poor start and, with an appalling lack of situational awareness, just shoved the luckless Ghiotto straight into the pit wall.
Fuoco was swiftly hit with a drive-through penalty as punishment, although his incredulity over the pit-to-car radio was equally disbelieving. That dropped him down the order, joining the likes of championship frontrunners George Russell and Lando Norris who were both trying to fight their way through the field.
Russell joined the list of retirees with a clumsy lunge on Nirei Fukuzumi at Las Rascasse. The Englishman tried to dive up the inside of the Fukuzumi’s BWT Arden, but carried far too much speed and slid helplessly into the barriers and immediate retirement.
Barely half a dozen laps later, Norris – who opted for an early pit stop after switching from Super Soft tyres to Softs for the run to the chequered flag – found himself bottled up behind Ralph Boschung’s MP Motorsport entry, which had also just visited the pits.
With Boschung having just been overtaken by Sean Gelael with an aggressive pass at Mirabeau, Norris was looking to capitalise while the Swiss driver’s tyres were not up to temperature. He got better traction coming out of La Rascasse and tried to dive up the inside into Antony Noghes – the move was never on, and poor Boschung was tipped into the barriers and instant retirement.
Boschung’s stranded car triggered a Safety Car, and with the field starting to bunch up both Albon and de Vries sought to use the race being neutralised to make their pit stops.
As de Vries dived for pit entry, Albon also turned in from a wider line and chopped across the Dutchman. The pair made contact, with Albon spinning and facing the wrong way at pit entry.
Marshals eventually allowed his DAMS mechanics to fire up and turn Albon’s car back around, but by that stage he was over a lap down and out of contention when he rejoined the circuit. He retired soon after, shortly after de Vries also shut off his car with bent steering.
Their dramas left Markelov in the lead. Yet to pit, the Russian needed to build a gap of at least 24 seconds over Gelael – the first of the drivers to have made his pit stop – in order to keep his lead.
The Russian Time driver did exactly that once the race resumed, quickly building a gap of over 27 seconds to the Indonesian before pitting at the end of Lap 34 and rejoining 1.7 seconds ahead of the PREMA Racing driver.
With a fresh set of Supersofts at his disposal, Markelov once again put the hammer down and built a gap of more than ten seconds in the remaining laps until the chequered flag.
Gelael finished in second place, earning the second F2 podium of his career, while former F1 driver Roberto Merhi completed the podium thanks to Norris’ pit lane penalty.
Louis Delétraz (Charouz Racing System) finished fourth ahead of Haas junior driver Arjun Maini (Trident), with Norris crossing the finish line in sixth place.
Jack Aitken claimed seventh place, while Fuoco recovered from his early drive-through penalty to claim eighth and the reversed grid pole position for Saturday’s Sprint Race.
|2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship Race of Monaco – Feature Race Results (42 laps)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result||Pts|
|1.||Artem Markelov||Russian Time||42||1:02:03.286||27|
|2.||Sean Gelael||Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing||42||+ 10.713||18|
|3.||Roberto Merhi||MP Motorsport||42||+ 15.489||15|
|4.||Louis Delétraz||Charouz Racing System||42||+ 19.236||12|
|5.||Arjun Maini||Trident Racing||42||+ 20.135||10|
|6.||Lando Norris||Carlin Motorsport||42||+ 20.637||8|
|7.||Jack Aitken||ART Grand Prix||42||+ 21.986||6|
|8.||Antonio Fuoco||Charouz Racing System||42||+ 23.855||4|
|9.||Nicholas Latifi||DAMS||42||+ 24.861||2|
|10.||Nirei Fukuzumi||BWT Arden International||42||+ 30.944||1|
|11.||Maximilian Günther||BWT Arden International||42||+ 31.532|
|12.||Roy Nissany||Campos Vexatec Racing||42||+ 49.749|
|13.||Santino Ferrucci||Trident Racing||42||+ 1:27.441|
|14.||Tadasuke Makino||Russian Time||39||Retired|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|DNF.||Nyck de Vries||Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing||19||Steering|
|DNF.||Ralph Boschung||MP Motorsport||11||Collision|
|DNF.||George Russell||ART Grand Prix||5||Accident|
|DNF.||Luca Ghiotto||Campos Vexatec Racing||0||Collision|
|DNS.||Sergio Sette Câmara||Carlin Motorsport||Injured|
Points were awarded to the top 10 classified finishers in the Feature Race on a 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 scale.
Alexander Albon is awarded an additional 4 championship points for claiming pole position.
Artem Markelov is awarded an additional 2 championship points for posting the fastest lap of the race by a top ten finisher.
- Santino Ferrucci was given a 5-second post-race time penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
Image via FIA Formula 2 Championship