Artem Markelov pulled off a remarkable maiden GP2 Series victory around the streets of Monaco on Friday after starting fifteenth.
The Russian Time driver took advantage of a late pit stop and numerous Virtual Safety Cars (VSC) to clinch victory ahead of long-time leader Norman Nato.
Nato had led the initial stages of the race for Racing Engineering after making a better start than pole sitter Sergey Sirotkin, and when the Russian crashed out of the feature race for a second consecutive event, it looked as though Nato would take his second victory of the season.
But Markelov capitalised on pitting at the latest possible moment and five VSC’s, and gained time on worn tyres towards the end of his stint to come out ahead of Nato when he pitted.
Behind Markelov and Nato was 2015 Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion and Renault Sport Academy driver Oliver Rowland, who finished on the podium for the first time since his full-time switch to GP2. The Briton had pressurised Nato for the majority of the final stages of the race, but the MP Motorsport driver was unable to find a way passed.
Rowland had found a way passed Mitch Evans just after the first VSC, caused when Pierre Gasly and Jimmy Eriksson clashed, and then closed up on Nato.
Evans finished fourth on the road for Campos Racing but was handed a five-second penalty for gaining an advantage after he cut the chicane to remain ahead of Rowland. The penalty saw Evans drop down to fifth behind Alex Lynn, who was forced to make an early pit stop following a puncture on his DAMS car.
Raffaele Marciello made it a good day for Russian Time with sixth, but it was a disappointing day in the end for Antonio Giovinazzi, who believed he had secured his first points of the season in seventh for Prema Racing only to be handed a post-race penalty for the same offence as Evans, dropping him down to eleventh.
Marvin Kirchhöfer scored his first points of the season and of his GP2 career, but due to Giovinazzi’s penalty, the Carlin driver lost the reverse grid pole position, with this instead going to ART Grand Prix’s Nobuharu Matsushita.
Daniel de Jong and Arthur Pic completed the top ten and the points scorers in the Feature race, for MP Motorsport and Rapax respectively.
Pre-race championship leader Gasly’s disappointing weekend continued as the Frenchman finished down in fifteenth, while Jordan King will be even more disappointed with his Friday, having been on the pace of Racing Engineering team-mate Nato until he crashed out.
Monaco Feature Race Result
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