Artem Markelov controlled proceedings to take victory in the Formula 2 sprint race in Bahrain on Sunday after Prema's Nyck De Vries failed to pull off an alternative strategy. 

Markelov, who recovered from the pitlane to finish a remarkable third in Saturday’s feature race, took advantage of a pitstop from early race leader de Vries to snatch the lead on Lap 9, and held onto position to beat Arden’s Maximilian Gunther, who claimed his maiden F2 podium. 

Carlin’s Sergio Sette Camara fended off teammate and feature race winner Lando Norris - who suffered a mid-race engine misfire - to hold on to third place and seal his second podium finish of the Bahrain season-opener. 

With Prema teammate Sean Gelael missing after stalling on the formation lap, de Vries made the most of the clear space in front of him to beat reverse-grid polesitter Gunther on the run to Turn 1, while Markelov surged into third following another lightning-quick getaway, as ART Grand Prix’s George Russell bogged down for the second race in a row. 

De Vries pulled into a comfortable lead from Markelov, after the Renault F1 test and development driver dived down the inside of Gunther for second in the early stages. Prema then opted to pit the Dutchman as it attempted to pull off a similar strategy to the one that helped Charles Leclerc claim victory at the same race last year. 

But McLaren F1 junior de Vries, who returned to the circuit in 13th, was unable to replicate the 2017 F2 champion’s sensational drive, as he crossed the line five seconds behind Norris in fifth. 

Luca Ghiotto took his Campos to sixth ahead of MP Motorsport’s Ralph Boschung, while Arden’s Nirei Fukuzumi recovered from 18th to claim the final point in eighth. Missing out on the points by just 0.6s was Louis Deletraz, who pipped the leading DAMS of Nicholas Latifi to ninth. 

Ex-Manor F1 driver Roberto Merhi, who failed to take the start in Saturday’s race, was 11th, ahead of Antonio Fuoco’s Charouz Racing System and the second DAMS of Alexander Albon, who faded from his starting position of fifth. 

Arjun Maini led Trident’s charge in a low-key 14th, ahead of Campos’ Roy Nissany and Gelael, who progressed as far as 16th having started from the pitlane after stalling.

Tadasuke Makino was a lowly 17th in the second Russian Time car, while it was a day to forget for ART, with both Jack Aitken (18th) and Russell (19th) propping up the order after both drivers stalled as the lights went out. 

The result sees Norris leave Bahrain as the early 2018 F2 championship leader with a total of 39 points, nine points clear of Markelov.

F2 BAHRAIN SPRINT RACE - RESULTS

 

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