The engines roared to life today for the first race of a brand new season in the newly re branded Formula 2 Championship. The 32 lap Feature Race held at the Bahrain International Circuit was dominated by strategy and filled with wheel to wheel action.
Artem Markelov Wins First Formula 2 Feature Race of 2017 in Bahrain
When the lights went out for the first race of the season, Ferrari junior driver and GP3 graduate, Charles Leclerc, shot into the lead into turn 1 after starting the race in pole position. Following Leclerc was Norman Nato for Pertamina Arden Racing after starting in third place. A few laps later after being on the tail of Leclerc constantly, Nato made the pass for the lead on lap 3, and maintained position ahead of Leclerc until he was overtaken again on lap 5. After being overtaken by Artem Markelov on lap 7, Nato switched his slower medium tyres for a set of softs, pitting with the aim of performing the undercut strategy.
Leclerc maintained his lead until he pitted switching onto soft tyres, which allowed second placed driver, Markelov to move into first. After performing his pit stop, Leclerc rejoined the race ahead of Nato and was on a newer set of soft tyres. With Nato’s tyres being warmed up however, the young Frenchman took the lead from the Prema driver, overtaking around the outside of turn 4 on lap 16.
Following this, Markelov then pitted, aiming to use the overcut strategy to maintain his lead over Leclerc and Nato in the pit stops. Markelov then rejoined in third, 8.5 seconds behind Leclerc. As he was on a fresher set of soft tyres however, Markelov soon caught up to second place, overtaking Leclerc after the final corner and before the DRS zone on lap 29.
With two laps to go, Markelov then destroyed the 3.3 second gap that stood between him and Nato, taking the lead and cruising to a fantastic victory after starting down in seventh place. Nato maintained second place after losing his lead, finishing ahead of Leclerc who rounded our the podium positions.
Further down the grid, the battle for fourth and fifth raged on until the end of the race, with Jordan King overtaking Oliver Rowland, forcing his past his fellow countryman for fourth.
Alexander Albon finished in sixth place after starting in second, ahead of a closely matched pack led by Luca Ghiotto in seventh place. Nobuharu Matsushita finished in eighth place, securing the reverse grid pole for the Sprint Race while Antonio Fuoco finished in ninth, overtaking Nyck de Vries on the final lap of the race.
With Formula 2 returning this weekend, the forthcoming season is looking to be closely fought on the grid, with many talented drivers competing in the series this year and it will be interesting to see how Sunday’s Sprint Race in Bahrain will unfold, with the grid being reversed from eighth place upwards.
Results from the Bahrain Formula 2 Feature Race:
- Artem Markelov, Russian Time, 25 points
- Norman Nato, Pertamina Arden Racing, 18 points
- Charles Leclerc, Prema Racing, 15 points
- Jordan King, MP Motorsport, 12 points
- Oliver Rowland, DAMS, 10 points
- Alexander Albon, ART Grand Prix, 8 points
- Luca Ghiotto, Russian Time, 6 points
- Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix, 4 points
- Antonio Fuoco, Prema Racing, 2 points
- Nyck de Vries, Rapax, 1 point
- Nicholas Latiffi, DAMS, 0 points
- Sergio Sette Camara, MP Motorsport, 0 points
- Ralph Boschung, Campos Racing, 0 points
- Sergio Canamasas, Trident, 0 points
- Johnny Cecotto, Rapax, 0 points
- Stefano Coletti, Campos Racing, 0 points
- Sean Gelael, Pertamina Arden Racing, 0 points
- Gustav Malja, Racing Engineering, 0 points
- Nabil Jeffri, Trident, 0 points
- Louis Delétraz, Racing Engineering, 0 points