Start, F2, Bahrain, 2018

Norris dominates Bahrain feature race as Markelov stars

Formula Two

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Lando Norris took a comfortable victory from pole position in the opening F2 race of the season in Bahrain.

He led a one-two-finish for Carlin on their return to the championship, though an inspired Artem Markelov did his best to deny Sergio Sette Camara his second place. Following an aborted start, Markelov scythed his way from the pit lane to third place.

Reigning European Formula Three champion Norris made his share of poor getaways last year but showed none of that as he left his rivals standing when the race began. Fellow front row starter George Russell bogged down and slipped to fifth, while Sette Camara took full advantage from sixth and breezed down the middle of the track into second place.

Norris began to streak away up front – pulling 2.4 seconds on the opening lap and a 10-second gap by lap 10. But behind him Markelov was setting the tone for the race, breezing up to 10th by the end of lap five having been forced to start from the pit lane after stalling at the start, along with former F1 driver Roberto Merhi.

Russell was the first of the leaders to pit on lap 14. He temporarily jumped ahead of Sette Camara and Alexander Albon , though the pair soon found their way back through. Up front, Norris finally relented and dived into the pits on lap 17 with Nyck de Vries and Markelov, though the Carlin driver’s advantage was cut to six seconds.

Norris reported on the radio that his engine was cutting out intermittently but nothing came of it and he stretched away once more, while behind Markelov was continuing to fly past cars, the extended DRS zone proving especially effective in F2. He was nose-to-tail with Sette Camara starting the final lap and slipped down the inside at turn one, but Sette Camara switched back brilliantly to go down the inside of Markelov and take the position back, holding on to the chequered flag.

The victory went the way of a dominant Norris however, winning by 6.9 seconds and never looking troubled. Albon finished fourth ahead of Russell, de Vries, Sean Gelael, Maximillian Gunther – who takes reverse grid pole – Ralph Boschung and Jack Aitken, who completed the top ten.

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24 comments on “Norris dominates Bahrain feature race as Markelov stars”

  1. Probably better than every F1 race this year will be… Norris just ‘Leclerc’d’ off into the distance, but other than that I think everyone made an overtake and was overtaken at some point. From start to finish, amazing. And wow, that defensive move from Sette Camara to chuck it back down the inside of Markelov on the final lap was astounding, excellent race and a great advertisement from F2.

    1. Sadly, it’s not been televised in many places. Would have loved to watch the race, but it’s simply impossible in Austria :(

      1. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
        7th April 2018, 12:58

        I have the same issue here in Greece, but there are many quality solutions!
        For instance, today there was a guy on Youtube broadcasting the race in HD quality!
        I can recall some YT coverage in the past, so tomorrow keep an eye on Youtube & u will find something :)

      2. Same here in Canada, shame, really.

    2. Willem Cecchi (@)
      7th April 2018, 12:55

      Amazing race.

  2. Alex (@alexf11995)
    7th April 2018, 12:55

    Fantastic to watch, what a great start to the F2 season! All eyes will be on Norris & Markelov tomorrow I’m sure!

    Very well written article @bradley13!

    1. @bradley13 Oo I have to agree, didn’t notice that before @alexf11995 pointed that out

  3. Fikri Harish (@)
    7th April 2018, 12:57

    Shame the grandstands were so depressingly empty, any race with Markelov out of position rarely ever disappoints.
    Gelael wasn’t as hopeless as I thought he’d be, I was sure that De Vries would wipe the floor with him. All those fried chickens I bought might not be such a waste after all

  4. If that was an F1 race it would be talked about for years. No battle for the lead but that didn’t seem to matter as there was action everwhere and almost every lap.

    If F1 is another snooze fest this weekend I’m likely to switch to F2 and Indycar full time.

    F1 really needs some changes as right now the product is dreadful and has been for some years.

  5. Hi, I was so eager to watch this race, but there’s no coverage here. Do someone know where can I watch this race afterwards? Probably someone will put this on you tube? Thanks

  6. So, what was the issue with his pole lap? I’ve seen comments, including by Tiff Needell, to the effect that didn’t respect the track limits.
    Anybody have more info on that? Did Race Control bend the rules because of Norris’ star potential, or is Needell wrong because Norris only exceeded track limits in places that aren’t considered critical?

    I can’t find any footage, but I’m curious.

    1. I assume it was the case of the lap time improvement not coming directly from the mini-sector (an approximately 200-meter long marshalling sector between any given two marshalling posts/light panels) where the off-track excursion took place. It’s OK to set a green or purple sector and or lap time, i.e., improve in a sector and or lap time following an off-track excursion as long as the improvement isn’t achieved within the relevant local mini-sector where the off-track excursion took place. The same approach applies to time improvements achieved following a yellow-flag zone as well, which is why, for example, both Hulkenberg and Rosberg managed to escape a penalty after having achieved time improvements following double-waved yellow flag zones in Austria and Hungary respectively in 2016.

    2. Last corner of the lap, he almost lost the car and went wide outside the curb. Cost him a lot of time actually.

      1. @jerejj @br444m
        Thanks. So, in essence, Needell’s tweet was nonsense.

  7. Markelov has got to be the best wheel-to-wheel racer in motorsport today. This is why I’d like to see a larger F1 grid with closer performance, so people like him can get a shot at the big time. This is not me advocating F1 becoming a spec series – rather enforcing a budget cap and abolishing the payments to Red Bull, Merc etc. Everyone criticising Liberty should remember that that was Bernie’s doing and has made F1 into the farce it is today.

    1. It’s hard to judge Markelov, he have more experience than most other drivers. Specially when you compare Him with Sette Camara (19) and Norris (18). In that point of the career 3-4 years of experience counts so much.

    2. I happen to think Markelov would be a sensation in F1. Reminds me Kobayashi but even better.

      If you look at his first season at Russian Time compared to Mitch Evens – he was outscored 174-6 then it seems odd, but everyone learns at a different pace I guess and he seems just to be a different breed from the other guys out there.

  8. Wonder what happened to Arjun Maini. He topped practice but made a mistake in qualifying. It seems that when it matters Maini is nowhere to be found.

    1. He had a poor start, and a disastrous pitstop. Lost a lot of time there. Either way, Trident didn’t look like they had good race pace.

  9. Why are the cars so much slower? Pole lap was 3 seconds slower than previously and during race they were lapping at the level of GP3 cars from 2015. It was embarrassing.

    Also, they introduced DRS because, I quote “”However, we also have to make sure that we keep in line with our mission statement: preparing the drivers for the next step, Formula 1. Formula 1 is constantly evolving. It is impossible for GP2 to remain with the same car over a long period of time when its philosophy is to prepare the drivers for F1.”. Ditto for turbo engines this season. Yet, they are much slower with F1 getting much faster and they have ridiculous tyre management (how can you name otherwise lapping 9-10 seconds slower than in qualifying?), while F1 minimised it greatly.

    How can you say your mission is to prepare drivers for F1, when the most important things and these are pushing to the absolute limit and managing your tyres, are further away in 2018 from F1 than they were before?

    1. It’s a new car. I expect they’ll get on top of these things by the end of the season.

  10. Norris building up that kind of gap in such a short time – I can’t say that I’ve seen anyone do that in GP2/F2 ever before.

    Lots of people at Daytona 24 this year said he was insanely quick.

    5 titles in 5 years.

    He seems pretty much like Senna to me so far.

    1. @gitanes, it could also be down to the help that he has been getting from McLaren, such as the time he’s been given in their simulator to train himself with the 2018 spec Formula 2 cars.

      I believe that it had also been pointed out that the recent restrictions on private testing that the FIA brought in on Formula 2 drivers carrying out private testing was pretty much written with Norris in mind (I believe that McLaren were carrying out private tests for him too).

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