The new generation Formula 2 cars, fitted with 620hp 3.4-litre turbocharged Mecachrome V6 engines and F1-style safety ‘halo’ do battle for the first time in Bahrain this weekend.
Defending champions Russian Time face a tough task to add to their impressive podium history with new driver, 20-year-old Japanese Tadasuke Makino starting his F2 career eighth on the Sakhir feature race grid, and 2017 series runner-up Artem Markelov, 17th.
Makino, one of seven F2 rookies in the field, was impressive nonetheless, rapidly getting to grips with the qualifying requirements of F2’s Pirelli control tyres to lap (1m42.264s) just half a second from pole position (1m41.761s) , which was claimed by Lando Norris. Markelov (1m42.816s) , after recording sixth quickest time in practice, had his best qualifying lap spoiled when he ran wide out of the final turn.
Tadasuke Makino: «You always want to be quicker but overall I am happy to be well inside the front half of the grid on my F2 debut. It takes a while to get on top of the Pirelli tyres and learn how to best use them to set a qualifying lap. I’m hopeful I can have a strong race from my qualifying position.»
Artem Markelov: «Not the start I was looking for. I didn’t get the set-up right on my first run and I was not at my limit. The second lap was much better in the first and second sectors but I ran wide out of the final corner and cost myself a lot of time.”
Svetlana Strelnikova (Team principal): «Congratulations to Tadasuke on such a strong qualifying performance on his F2 debut – impressive! Artem would have been much closer to the pace but for his mistake at Turn 15. But, Bahrain is an abrasive circuit and tyre strategy is a key part of the race, so all is not lost. He always gives his all.”