Start, Formula Two feature race, Monaco, 2018

Markelov triumphs again in Monaco as championship leaders struggle

Formula Two

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Artem Markelov returned to the scene of his first victory in the F1 support series with a “masterclass” second win in Monaco, as Sean Gelael and Roberto Merhi turned in category-best finishes to complete the podium.

The F2 feature race started at a balmy 21C, further gremlins appearing with the new car as Santino Ferrucci stalled on the grid. Conditions were clear in terms of weather but not entirely straightforward, with visibly huge amounts of sand on the track, following yesterday’s Porsche Carrera cup activity.

Immediately off the line Antonio Fuoco put Luca Ghiotto in the barrier, putting the latter out of the race – an especially incident for him, as the Campos driver had qualified well in a season where he’s struggled to show his potential so far. A subsequent two-lap Safety Car period neutralised the race.

George Russell made an uncharacteristic error after the restart, massively outbraking himself on lap seven and ending his race in the Armco. His ART was retrieved quickly enough to not need another safety car.

Lando Norris, who started dead last after crashing yesterday, made a bold strategy call by changing tyres on lap eight. However he emerged behind Sean Gelael. The Prema driver sprang a surprise attack to pass Ralph Boschung at Mirabeau, but Norris ran into his rival when he tried to do the same. A hasty lunge at Anthony Noghes put the Swiss driver out of the race, earned Norris a drive-through penalty and triggered a second Safety Car period.

Race leader Albon made a late dive for the pits under the Safety Car and crossed the path of Nyck de Vries. The pair clashed which left Albon pointing the wrong way. Both eventually retired and Markelov inherited the lead.

With half the remaining field having made their mandatory pit stops already (although the soft or even super-soft tyres could have run the race distance) by lap 30 Markelov was trying to draw out a lead over Gelael, the first among those who had already pitted.

Markelov managed a 25.596 second lead by lap 31 but with a dwindling window and Gelael up to fifth after Jack Aitken and Nirei Fukuzumi pitted, he was under serious pressure. But demonstrating his characteristic indifference to tyre wear, the Russian Time driver set the fastest lap on the 32nd tour and remained out even as second-place Arjun Maini pitted after a desperately long stint.

Finally pitting on lap 36 of 42, with a 27.454 lead, Markelov had a clean stop and resumed in third, behind only Nicholas Latifi and Maximilian Gunther, who were still yet to pit.

Once they did, Markelov had his lead back, and he duly claimed his second win of 2018. Gelael took a well-won second and former F1 driver Merhi taking the final podium spot for MP Motorsport. Norris was the only driver among the top five in the championship to score, and that was for a lowly sixth place. Eighth for Fuoco gives him pole position for tomorrow’s sprint race.

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    Hazel Southwell
    Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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  • 14 comments on “Markelov triumphs again in Monaco as championship leaders struggle”

    1. Great drive from Markelov, again showing how he’s amazing at making the tyres last, running to the times required, and pulling out a result. Also, how Norris ended up 6th after starting last and having a drive through I have no idea…

      1. Drivers who started on the supersoft and got the stop out of the way early (like Norris) got lucky with the safety car.

    2. Norris should be quite happy with this result considering his crash and a messy race. He’s in a good position to bag some good points in the sprint race.

    3. Norris disappoints. I was thinking much better of him before I saw his “racecraft”. He was very lucky to get that amount of points in the race weekend where he crashed in quali, impeded Albon, crashed in Boshung…

      1. He was the same in F3. Great when driving up front, but often struggling when racing in the pack. He is no Leclerc imho.

    4. Again, this year’s f2 field is amazing. There are at least 6 f1 worthy drivers and i wouldn’t dis ount some others.

      1. @tango Possibly, but it certainly didn’t look that way in today’s messy race.

      2. It looked like one of the lowest ever F2 fields in terms of quality today TBH

    5. Imho they should change the race format. Abandon the reverse grid sprint race and make it a full second race with qualifying.

      Apparently you get rewarded with points and pole for driving other drivers into the wall and your whole weekend is ****** up when those drivers crash into you.

      1. Apart from Monaco I disagree. For Monaco they should probably have just one race like they did in early years of GP2.

        The reverse grid for top eight gives better idea how drivers are able to fight in the pack and climb their way to the top. The point system gives less points for sprint race which compensates that. In an imaginary race where drivers finish the sprint race as they started, the points (without bonus for pole or FL) would be distributed 26-20-19-18-18-18-18-19 in order of top 8 in the feature race.

    6. Nice to see Sean galael, an f1 pay driver tester get a good result. He needs to redeem himself

      1. Unfortunately, Markelov was faster than him despite having older tyres during the middle part of the race

    7. Neil (@neilosjames)
      25th May 2018, 16:34

      As a fan of single-seater racing, I found it quite embarrassing and painful to watch. Just shows how far from being the finished article so many of the best young drivers are.

      Bad days for Russell (stupid mistake), Norris (poor racecraft), Albon and de Vries (don’t even know what to call that, or which one to blame… probably both) and Camara (thankfully didn’t break his hand). And Fuoco isn’t really considered a ‘hot prospect’ anymore, but that swerve at the start was horrible.

      On the bright side, it was nice for Markelov to get a win after a rough start, and good to see a couple of unlikely faces with him on the podium.

    8. Woah.. Rare sight to see Gelael and ‘well-won’ in the same sentence!

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