Artem Markelov was thankful to the Renault Sport Formula One Team after being given the opportunity to run in a Formula 1 free practice session for the very first time.
The twenty-four-year-old Russian took over the R.S.18 from Carlos Sainz Jr. for the opening session at the Sochi Autodrom, completing twenty-two laps, with Markelov ending fifteenth fastest overall, his time of 1:37.183 2.695 seconds behind pacesetter Sebastian Vettel and 0.909 seconds down on regular team driver Nico Hülkenberg.
Markelov was one of four young drivers to participate in the opening session in Russia, with Lando Norris, Nicholas Latifi and Antonio Giovinazzi running with the McLaren F1 Team, Racing Point Force India F1 Team and Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team respectively, in place of Fernando Alonso, Sergio Pérez and Marcus Ericsson.
“I was very excited to be in the car today and I’m pretty happy with everything,” said Markelov, who had driven the R.S.18 for the first time in the post-Hungarian Grand Prix test at the beginning of August. “The team gave me good feedback and it was a great experience.
“I felt pretty confident after the second lap and an F1 car is where it feels like I should be! Thank you to Renault for this first experience in an official Grand Prix session.”
Markelov immediately returned to his regular duties in the FIA Formula 2 championship with Russian Time, finishing fourteenth fastest in that free practice session with a time more than twelve seconds slower than he managed during the Formula 1 practice.
His home weekend then continued to worsen as he went on to qualify down in nineteenth, the slowest of anyone who managed to set a representative lap time.