Formula 2 rookie Tadasuke Makino has romped to a truly unexpected maiden victory in Saturday’s Sprint Race at Monza. The Russian Time driver ran an alternate tyre strategy to brilliant effect, rocketing through the field from fourteenth on the grid in the early laps to seal victory over teammate Artem Markelov and DAMS driver Alexander Albon.

There was drama before the start of the race then Sergio Sette Câmara was forced to relinquish his front-row start alongside championship leader George Russell. The Brazilian limped into the pits to take the race start.

Russell once again got badly bogged down at the start when the lights went out and chopped across the circuit to cover Markelov and Albon. The pair came within centimetres of interlocking their wheels and a potentially huge accident, but their momentum proved the difference as they both swept by Russell at the Rettifilo chicane to move into first and second.

Markelov pulled clear but was quickly reeled back in by Albon. On Lap 3 the pair ran nose-to-tail and Albon forced Markelov into an error at the Roggia chicane. The Russian had a slow exit and moved to the inside on the approach to Lesmo 1, while Albon tried to launch an unsuccessful attack around the outside.

The Anglo-Thai driver stayed in Markelov’s wheeltracks for the rest of the lap and used DRS to pull out of his slipstream at the start of the fourth lap and claim the lead.

Behind them, Makino was finding his Medium compound tyres were holding up brilliantly against the Supersoft-shod frontrunners. He had climbed to eighth place by the end of Lap 1 and then breezed by Luca Ghiotto, Lando Norris, Nicholas Latifi and Russell in the space of a lap to climb into third place.

Albon’s time in the lead proved short-lived as Markelov reclaimed the place with a pass into the Rettifilo on Lap 5 before Makino made it a Russian Time 1-2 by passing Albon a few corners later at Lesmo 1.

Realising his teammate was so much quicker, Markelov breathed off the throttle on approach to the Ascari chicane to let Makino into the lead so he could make full use of his alternate strategy.

The Supersoft tyres were falling to pieces and at the end of Lap 6 all of the frontrunners made their compulsory pit stops and switched onto the Medium tyres to see out the rest of the race. Russell managed to leapfrog Albon in the process, as the DAMS team was forced to waithold their driver until a gap emerged in the frantic pit lane.

Makino comfortably led the race out front, with the MP Motorsport duo of Ralph Boschung and Dorian Boccolacci promoted to second and third as they were the only other drivers to run the alternate Medium-Supersoft strategy.

By mid-distance, Makino’s lead over Markelov – who maintained position as the first of the pack to have pitted – stood at over 46 seconds, which was more than enough for the rookie to make his pit stop and emerge still in front.

Markelov made small gains and steadily cut Makino’s lead down to 40 seconds over the next 20 laps, but it would still not prove enough when Makino finally pitted at the end of Lap 28.

Markelov was being kept busy by Russell, with the Mercedes reserve driver looking quicker than his Renault counterpart in the early laps after their pit stops. With Russell doggedly sitting in his slipstream, Markelov cheekily braked early on approach to the Parabolica and momentarily allowed Russell in front as their pair crossed the DRS detection line approaching the right-hander.

As they approached the start/finish straight, Markelov used his DRS to full effect and breezed by the ART driver to reclaim the position and build enough of a gap so he couldn’t be attacked again. Rattled by having to take avoiding action, Russell’s concentration slipped and he allowed Albon through into an effective third place.

That left him now under attack from his main championship rival Norris, who had several attempts at trying to pass his British compatriot. The pair ran side-by-side through Curva Grande, with Russell squeezing Norris onto the grass and forcing the Carlin driver to back off as they approached the Roggia chicane.

Norris counter-attacked a few laps later and cut to the inside of Curva Grande to move ahead of Russell and then defended successfully on the next lap into the Rettifilo. His joy was short-lived, as Russell regrouped once more and dived down the inside into the Rettifilo with a late lunge to catch Norris napping.

Makino had only three laps to run on the Supersoft tyres after his pit stop, emerging 2.2 seconds ahead of Markelov. The gap closed slightly, but Makino held his nerve to claim a delightful victory and become the season’s tenth different race-winner. Albon completed the podium in third place ahead of Russell.

Norris crossed the finish line in sixth place after being overtaken by Latifi on the penultimate lap, losing further ground to Russell in the fight for the Drivers’ Championship as the gap between the two extended to 13 points.

His teammate Sette Câmara put in a sadly unnoticed recovery drive to finish seventh and secure another front-row starting position for Sunday’s reversed-grid Sprint Race. Local driver Antonio Fuoco overcame a couple of early off-track moments to recovery to eighth place, but his Charouz Racing System car was subsequently disqualified when he was found to be running with non-compliant throttle map at the race start of the race.

That promoted Boschung into eighth place and the reversed-grid pole, with PREMA Theodore Racing’s Nyck de Vries and Campos Racing’s Luca Ghiotto completing the points’ finishers.

2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship Race of Italy – Feature Race Results (30 laps)
Driver Team / Entry Laps Result Pts
1. Tadasuke Makino Russian Time 30 49:10.197 25
2. Artem Markelov Russian Time 30 + 1.798 18
3. Alexander Albon DAMS 30 + 3.106 15
4. George Russell uk ART Grand Prix 30 + 6.178 16
5. Nicholas Latifi DAMS 30 + 8.274 10
6. Lando Norris uk Carlin Motorsport 30 + 9.017 8
7. Sergio Sette Câmara Carlin Motorsport 30 + 18.218 8
8. Ralph Boschung ch MP Motorsport 30 + 27.131 4
9. Nyck de Vries Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 30 + 27.203 2
10. Luca Ghiotto it Campos Vexatec Racing 30 + 30.393 1
11. Sean Gelael Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 30 + 43.580
12. Maximilian Günther de BWT Arden International 30 + 45.373
13. Louis Delétraz Charouz Racing System 30 + 45.492
14. Nirei Fukuzumi BWT Arden International 30 + 48.839
15. Alessio Lorandi Trident Racing 30 + 52.556
16. Roy Nissany Campos Vexatec Racing 29 1 lap behind
17. Jack Aitken uk ART Grand Prix 28 Puncture
Not Classified Team / Entry Laps Result
DQ. Antonio Fuoco Charouz Racing System 30 Excluded
DNF. Dorian Boccolacci es MP Motorsport 24 Steering
DNF. Arjun Maini in Trident Racing 22 Engine

Championship Points:

  • Points are awarded to the top 10 classified finishers in the Feature Race on a 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 scale.
  • George Russell is awarded an additional 4 championship points for claiming pole position.
  • Sergio Sette Câmara is awarded an additional 2 championship points for posting the fastest lap of the race by a top ten finisher.

Post-Race Penalties:

  • Antonio Fuoco – who provisionally finished 8th – was excluded for using a non-compliant throttle map at the race start. Fuoco had also been issued with a five-second post-race time penalty for exceeding the track limits during the race.

Image via FIA Formula 2 Championship

The following two tabs change content below.

Geoff Burke

Journalist at MotorsportM8
Site co-founder. Social Media guru. All-round trouble-maker.