Artem Markelov scored his sixth GP2/F2 win with a finely-judged victory in the Bahrain Sprint race, following up his exciting pit lane to podium drive in Saturday’s Feature event. New Russian Time team mate Tadasuke Makino suffered another interrupted race requiring a pit stop after on-track contact and finished in 17th position.
Artem started the reverse grid race sixth, reacted quickly to avoid a slow-starting car and was third at the exit of Turn 1, behind Nyck De Vries and pole man Max Gunther. He went inside Gunther at Turn 4 on lap 5 and took the lead when De Vries pitted nine laps into the race’s 23 to go onto the option tyre – a strategy that saw De Vries finish fifth.
Russian Time had weighed the strategy options carefully and concluded that with slightly reduced speeds and tyre degradation, it was possible to make the prime tyre last, a job that Artem skillfully managed.
Artem Markelov: «It was a very different kind of race from Saturday. When I passed Gunther for second, my natural instinct was to chase De Vries but my engineer told me to slow down and conserve the tyres because he was on a different strategy. I thought he may catch back up quicker than he did. We made the right calls, so big thanks to the team!”
Tadasuke Makino: «For the second successive day I suffered some damage and had to make a pit stop after just six laps. The team changed the nose and also put me onto the option tyre, so at least I learned something about tyre management on the softer tyre.”
Svetlana Strelnikova (Team principal): «Congratulations to Artem. He passed Gunther cleanly, didn’t get involved in a battle and was able to look after the rubber, which was always going to be important in a race where we needed to make the prime tyre last. Tadasuke impressed with his qualifying performance on Friday but had a tough race baptism on both days and was unlucky to sustain damage. We leave second in both the drivers’ and teams’ championships which, after a difficult opening day on Friday, reflects a lot of hard work by everyone in the team.”