Austria win a ‘great boost’ for Markelov ahead of Silverstone

Artem Markelov celebrates after his Sprint race win in Austria - Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Artem Markelov returned to the top step of the podium for the first time since the opening round of the season in Bahrain when he secured the Sprint race victory at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday.

The Russian Time driver had capitalised on starting from the reverse grid pole position after finishing eighth during Saturday’s Feature race in Austria, and despite an early safety car and a virtual safety car, he was able to control the race from the front, even setting the fastest lap of the race to win by 1.458 seconds from Alexander Albon.

“I’m happy with today’s win and 21 points from the weekend after a bit of a disastrous qualifying,” said Markelov. “We achieved our target of getting up to eighth place on Saturday to get the sprint race pole and today’s race was really strong.

“My start was good, so was the restart and I was able to control the pace to make sure Albon and [Oliver] Rowland did not get within DRS range. I was also able to set the fastest lap without taking too much out of the tyres.

“Thanks to the team for such a strong car. It’s a great boost for Silverstone next week.”

Markelov was only able to take victory due to his performance during Saturday’s Feature race where, after a disappointing qualifying session that left him down in fourteenth position, he was able to climb up to eight despite a first lap tangle with Ralph Boschung that damaged his front wing.

Ironically, it was Boschung who he came up behind in the closing stages, but the Russian driver was unable to find a way through for seventh, ending just 0.985 seconds behind the Swiss driver.

“On the first lap Boschung put me on the grass, which damaged my front wing and meant I suffered a bit more degradation than I would have done,” said Markelov. “But I kept fighting and was up into the top 10 after four laps.

“I pitted for the option tyres with nine of the 40 laps to go and managed to close down Boschung again. I tried hard to pass him before my option tyres started to drop off, but couldn’t quite do it.”