Artem Markelov pulled off one of the great GP2 Series victories by coming from a crash-affected 15th on the grid to claim victory on the streets on Monaco.

The Russian made his soft Pirelli rubber last until the dying moments of a slightly shortened 40-lap feature race on Friday morning, before emerging from the pit-lane ahead of long-time leader Norman Nato, who had pitted only a handful of laps earlier. However, a series of virtual safety car periods filled the six intervening laps, and Markelov's advantage of the Frenchman appeared to more than double in size during that time, initially casting question marks over the legitimacy of his win.

The Russian Time car rejoined on supersofts just as Nato rounded Ste Devote, and the crowd was treated to a three-way battle for supremacy with Oliver Rowland still on the back of the Frenchman, as he had been since the Racing Engineering driver suffered a troubled stop on lap 31. Although both drivers took a look at passing the man in front of them, neither was able to find room on the cramped track and the three took the flag line astern.

The battle should have been between Nato and poleman Sergey Sirotkin, who lost his advantage to the Frenchman as Nato got better drive off the line, but harried his rival through the opening third of the race. Despite cutting the chicane on lap eleven, Sirotkin was right back with Nato by lap 23, before clipping the kerb on the entry to the Swimming Pool section and ending his race in the barriers - and very close to tears.

That should have prompted a Racing Engineering 1-2, but Jordan King, after gamely hanging on in third, also made a mistake and was retired in the pits after lengthy, and somewhat puzzled, checks by his crew. With Alex Lynn fearing he had picked up a puncture in the aftermath of King's moment, Rowland took over as chief pursuer to Nato, having closed in on the Frenchman once by a stubborn Mitch Evans. Rowland believed that the Kiwi should have been penalised for retaining his advantage by cutting the chicane under pressure, but made sure of taking his place at the first VSC restart.

Markelov who had already made his way up to P8 by the time King departed, having been battling hard with Nicholas Latifi when the Canadian driver clipped the wall in the tunnel, damaged his suspension and retired. Having picked up a couple more places as others pitted, the respective stops for Evans and Lynn on laps 28 and 29, promoted the Russian to third behind Nato and Rowland.

The MP Motorsport driver stopped for supersofts on lap 30, followed a lap later by Nato, who had a slightly slower stop following a problem on the front right tyre. Markelov was thus handed the lead with eleven laps and one mandatory pit-stop to go and extended his advantage slightly as, behind him, Rowland was hot on Nato's tail.

When the virtual safety car made one last quick appearance on lap 36 to cover the marshals as they cleared Luca Ghiotto's stranded car, Markelov dove into the pits at the restart, taking on supersofts and re-joining just ahead of Nato. The Frenchman could not believe his misfortune and tried everything to find a way past as the Russian warmed his new rubber, but the fresher tyres were enough to keep Nato at bay and Markelov eventually crossed the finish line 1.5secs in front, with Rowland still in Nato's mirrors

Lynn and Evans would take the flag in fourth and fifth respectively, ahead of Raffaele Marciello, Antonio Giovinazzi - whose gamble on starting on supersofts didn't pay off - and Marvin Kirchhofer, who survived losing part of his front wing against a slowing Luca Ghiotto to claim eighth and sprint race pole on Saturday. Nobuharu Matsushita and Daniel de Jong completed the scorers.

Meanwhile, it was a miserable day for championship leader Pierre Gasly who, having been forced to start from the pit-lane after missing the weight check in qualifying, proceeded to clout the back of Jimmy Eriksson while trying to claw back lost ground, and would not score the points for fastest lap after finishing only 15th.

* The final result was altered by a post-race penalty for Giovinazzi, which dropped the Italian to eleventh in the order and promoting Kirchhofer to seventh, Matsushita to eighth (and race two pole), while Arthur Pic joins de Jong at the bottom of the points-paying positions.