Late charge gives Markelov first win of new Formula 2 era

Artem Markelov took the first win of the new era of Formula 2 in Bahrain - Credit: Zak Mauger/FIA Formula 2

Artem Markelov wrote himself into the history books as he claimed the first Feature race victory in the new era of the FIA Formula 2 Championship as he climbed from seventh on the grid to win at the Bahrain International Circuit.

The Russian Time driver made the most of a later pit stop than his rivals to have a considerable pace advantage across the final laps, passing both Charles Leclerc for second and Norman Nato for the lead on consecutive laps.

“I’m delighted. I want to thank the team for the great strategy calls,” said Markelov. “My engineer kept reminding me to look after the tyres, I did that, and it worked out perfectly.

“I knew the car was strong despite our qualifying problems and it’s great to start the year like this! It’s now about keeping the focus and capitalising on this winning start.”

Markelov made it up to third during the early laps of Sunday’s Sprint race but like eventual race winner Leclerc gambled on a pit stop mid-race, but unlike the Prema Racing driver, he was unable to better eighth at the chequered flag.

“I had another strong race and was sixth after a good first lap,” said Markelov. “I then passed King around the outside of Turn 1, Albon on the inside of the same corner and Rowland at Turn 4 to run third, just behind Luca.

“We made the stop, which was the plan, but I lost time and eighth was my limit. But with Saturday’s win and our pace, I’m really happy with our start to the season.”