Nato laments Markelov pace advantage after early pit stop in Bahrain


Norman Nato battled Charles Leclerc for the lead early on Saturday, but both lost out to Artem Markelov - Credit: Zak Mauger/FIA Formula 2

Norman Nato enjoyed his return to Pertamina Arden as he took second place in the Feature race at the Bahrain International Circuit in the first weekend of the FIA Formula 2 Championship season.

The Frenchman was embroiled in the lead battle throughout the race with Charles Leclerc and Artem Markelov, but a superior tyre strategy from Markelov and Russian Time enabled the Monegasque driver to deny Nato the win on the penultimate lap of the 32-lap race.

“It was a good race for us,” said Nato on fiaformula2.com. “I was trying to put pressure on Charles at the beginning of the race, and the pace was good but I couldn’t put a gap on Charles so I decided to back off a bit because I knew it would be difficult to get to the end of the stint.

“Charles started to push and so I didn’t fight with him and Artem just to be quicker on the primes, and then we decided to pit early which worked well, and we were really good on the options.

“I saw that Charles was starting to struggle with tyres, and then I was too and Artem was just too quick today: I have to say congratulations to them today, and I hope we can do a good race tomorrow.”

Unfortunately for Nato, his Sprint race on Sunday was over on the opening lap as he collided with Oliver Rowland at turn four, causing a puncture and significant damage to his car. Despite this he left the circuit joint fifth in the standings alongside Luca Ghiotto.