Russian driver Artem Markelov produced a strong, mature drive to finish 14th from 24th on the grid in the Monaco reverse grid race around the famous streets of the Mediterranean principality.
For Mitch Evans, however, a bad weekend turned into a nightmare as his car cut out on the formation lap once more. The same problem afflicted the New Zealander in Barcelona a fortnight ago and then in practice on Thursday morning in Monte Carlo.
Monaco is never the easiest environment for hard-working team engineers and mechanics and between free practice and qualifying, the Russian Time crew changed engine sensors, wiring looms on both engine and car, the battery and pretty much the entire electrical system. A new engine fitted on Thursday night ran satisfactorily in qualifying and the feature race on Friday, until Evans was taken out in a contact with Nick Yelloly. Another engine was then installed on Friday night and the team was left dismayed by the return of electrical problems.
Passing a closely-matched car at Monaco is a near impossibility and Markelov, who picked up five places on the first two laps, found himself stuck behind Austrian Rene Binder for most of the race, until he pulled off an outbraking move down the inside of Turn 1 (Sainte Devote), with three of the 30 laps remaining.
The race was won by Evans’ countryman Richie Stanaway for Status Grand Prix, ahead of Raffaele Marciello and Sergei Sirotkin.
Artem Markelov: “This is Monaco and you have to be patient! When I caught Binder I was quicker almost everywhere but he had good straightline speed through the Tunnel and down to the harbour front chicane, which is probably the most feasible passing place. He was closing the door on me and I had to wait until he destroyed his tyres to make my move. The guys ahead of him were 5-6s in front but I managed to close that up in the last couple of laps and finish right with a train of four cars. I think that picking up 10 place in Monaco is okay!”
Mitch Evans: “What can I say? Frustrating doesn’t really make a start on it – not just for myself but the entire team. Let’s hope we can get on top of it before Austria.”
Svetlana Strelnikova, team principal: “If you look at pure statistics this has been perhaps the worst weekend in the team’s history! But looking at the positives, I want to congratulate Artem on a really good, measured drive. It is frustrating to have to follow a car you are clearly quicker than for so long but he picked his moment intelligently and from 24th on the grid, we could not have asked for more.”