Markelov stuns in Monte Carlo Feature Race

Artem Markelov
Artem Markelov

Artem Markelov produced a masterclass performance in the FIA Formula 2 Championship Feature Race at the Circuit de Monaco, as the RUSSIAN TIME driver weathered drama and a pair of safety car periods to secure victory by 10.7 seconds over Sean Gelael. The PREMA driver took advantage of the alternate strategy to take second, as Roberto Merhi did likewise to grab the final podium place available.

Nineteen cars took to the grid after Sergio Sette Camara was ruled unfit to start following his incident in Thursday’s qualifying session. In a hot, humid Monte Carlo, the race was put on ice almost immediately after the start; the safety car was brought out after Luca Ghiotto was helped into the wall by Antonio Fuoco off the line, as polesitter Alexander Albon preserved his lead of the race from Nyck de Vries and Markelov. Once Ghiotto’s stricken Campos Vexatec Racing car was cleared, Albon dictated the restart to remain ahead of de Vries, while Markelov was left to fend off from Arjun Maini after Fuoco was quickly handed a drive-through penalty.

De Vries began to throw the kitchen sink at Albon, before yellow flags flooded the Rascasse hairpin for George Russell, who hit the wall having botched an overtake on Nirei Fukuzumi. With the threat of a safety car – which remained off-track after the ART Grand Prix car was quickly put out of harm’s way – the supersoft runners began to filter into the pits; Lando Norris, Gelael, Louis Deletraz and Merhi peppering the pitlane with stops for soft tires.

Norris then brought out a second safety car on lap 13, attempting an overtake on Ralph Boschung at the Anthony Noghes corner and bundling the Swiss driver into the wall – Norris earning a drive-through as a result. Subsequently, leading pair Albon and de Vries both attempted to pit under the safety car; the two found the pitlane entry too tight for both cars and collided – Albon ending up facing the wrong direction and de Vries sustaining damage.

From left Gelael, Markelov and Merthi
From left Gelael, Markelov and Merhi

The end of the safety car period shuffled Markelov to the front of the field, and he began to fire in a series of hot laps to build a gap over Maini. De Vries, the lead runner to have completed their mandatory stop, lost eighth to teammate Gelael before hemorrhaging a further raft of positions – the Dutchman calling it a day after 20 tours of the circuit. This left Gelael as Markelov’s benchmark as he sought to build a gap ahead of his own pitstop.

Dropping the hammer, Markelov had preserved sufficient life in his soft tires to open the gap up to Gelael, eking out as much time as possible to complete his stop. Behind him, Fuoco, Aitken and Fukuzumi all blinked first, pitting while Markelov was setting further hot laps. With his lapped teammate Tadasuke Makino looming larger in his sights, Markelov came in for supersofts at the end of lap 34, crucially emerging ahead of Gelael.

Gelael had soon slashed the deficit to two seconds as Markelov needed time to bring his tires up to temperature, but the Russian soon took advantage of his softer-compound rubber to light the timing boards up with best sectors, opening up his advantage to cross the line with a 10.7s advantage over the Indonesian. Having also pit before the safety car on the alternate strategy, Merhi capped off a well-managed drive to clinch third – he and Gelael claiming their first F2 podium finishes.

Having also benefitted from the option-prime strategy, Louis Deletraz swept home in fourth for his first points of the season, while Maini emerged ahead of Norris after his stop to grab fifth. Jack Aitken was seventh, while Fuoco recovered from his drive-through to eighth. Nicholas Latifi, having stopped the latest of anyone, clinched ninth from the final row of the grid, while Fukuzumi beat BWT Arden teammate Maximilian Günther to 10th.

Fuoco will start tomorrow’s Sprint Race from eighth position and, without mandatory pitstops to make, drivers will undoubtedly have to take more risks to progress through the field. With the streets of Monaco keen to punish the slightest mistake, Saturday’s race promises to be just as exciting.

Feature Race Results

1 Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 0.000s 42
2 Sean Gelael Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 10.713s 42
3 Roberto Merhi MP Motorsport 15.489s 42
4 Louis Deletraz Charouz Racing System 19.236s 42
5 Arjun Maini Trident 20.135s 42
6 Lando Norris Carlin 20.637s 42
7 Jack Aitken ART Grand Prix 21.986s 42
8 Antonio Fuoco Charouz Racing System 23.855s 42
9 Nicholas Latifi DAMS 24.861s 42
10 Nirei Fukuzumi BWT Arden 30.944s 42
11 Maximilian Gunther BWT Arden 31.532s 42
12 Roy Nissany Campos Vexatec Racing 49.749s 42
13 Santino Ferrucci Trident 1m27.441s 42
14 Tadasuke Makino RUSSIAN TIME 3 Laps 39
Alexander Albon DAMS Retirement 22
Nyck de Vries Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing Retirement 19
Ralph Boschung MP Motorsport Retirement 11
George Russell ART Grand Prix Retirement 5
Sergio Sette Camara Carlin Withdrawn 0
Luca Ghiotto Campos Vexatec Racing Retirement 0

Best laptime: Maximilian Günther (BWT Arden) – 1:22.472 on Lap 38

Drivers' championship

1 Lando Norris 88
2 Alexander Albon 71
3 Artem Markelov 63
4 George Russell 62
5 Jack Aitken 49
6 Nyck de Vries 46
7 Sergio Sette Camara 46
8 Sean Gelael 29
9 Antonio Fuoco 24
10 Nicholas Latifi 23
11 Luca Ghiotto 22
12 Roberto Merhi 21
13 Maximilian Gunther 16
14 Arjun Maini 16
15 Louis Deletraz 12
16 Ralph Boschung 10
17 Santino Ferrucci 4
18 Tadasuke Makino 4
19 Nirei Fukuzumi 2
20 Roy Nissany 0

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