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F2 Bahrain: Lando Norris takes dominant win in season opener

Lando Norris converted pole position into a brilliant victory in the Formula 2 opener in Bahrain, as Artem Markelov turned a pitlane start into a podium

There was drama before the race had even started, as Markelov stalled at the beginning of the warm-up lap, sending his Russian Time machine to the back of the grid.

Norris scampered away from an eventful start, building a lead of over nine seconds across the first nine laps. His pitstop was slowed slightly due to a sticking left rear, and he later reported over the radio that his engine was cutting out.

However, he held on without further issues to win the first race for the new F2 car in dominant fashion.

Any hope of a battle with his fellow Brit George Russell, also on the front row of the grid, was gone when the ART Grand Prix driver suffered wheelspin off the startline, dropping him back down the order.

Norris's Carlin team-mate Sergio Sette Camara and Prema's Nyck de Vries launched into the early podium spots, with Alexander Albon of DAMS also falling back at the start.

The first round of stops proved crucial, as de Vries fell back due to the undercut with Camara and Albon promoted.

The Dutchman struggled for pace throughout, at a track where his Prema team also struggled last year.

After the stops, Markelov had gone longer than most, and began to work his way through the top 10 with supremacy.

He passed Russell for fourth shortly after the stops, with the Brit hamstrung thanks to struggling for top speed in his car.

Markelov then fought Albon, who was without DRS for the majority of the contest, to set up a decider with Camara for second.

On the last lap, Markelov dive-bombed the Brazilian at Turn 1, but brilliant defensive driving from Camara allowed him to retake the spot with an undercut move to get back to the apex.

They went wheel-to-wheel through the last lap but Camara held on, to give Carlin a one-two on its return to F1's feeder series after a year away.

Markelov's performance was made all the more impressive by the lack of running he had in practice thanks to issues with his engine, and Albon's fourth gives DAMS something to think about, as he is currently only signed up for this event.

Russell held on to fifth ahead of de Vries, who passed Sean Gelael and Maxi Gunther towards the end of the race to take sixth, having initially lost out to Gelael in a heart-stopping battle between the Prema stablemates.

Jack Aitken (ART) struggled to make inroads during the race, finishing ninth having started in the same position.

MP Motorsport's Ralph Boschung, who started the race from 16th, worked his way up to take the final spot in the top 10 with a late surge.

Race result

Pos Driver Team Laps Gap
1 Lando Norris Carlin 31 57m46.206s
2 Sergio Sette Camara Carlin 31 8.321s
3 Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 31 8.532s
4 Alexander Albon DAMS 31 9.349s
5 George Russell ART Grand Prix 31 13.947s
6 Nyck de Vries Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 31 14.661s
7 Sean Gelael Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 31 19.326s
8 Maximilian Guenther BWT Arden 31 22.573s
9 Jack Aitken ART Grand Prix 31 28.559s
10 Ralph Boschung MP Motorsport 31 31.585s
11 Nicholas Latifi DAMS 31 35.514s
12 Luca Ghiotto Campos Vexatec Racing 31 44.273s
13 Louis Deletraz Charouz Racing System 31 49.429s
14 Santino Ferrucci Trident 31 55.424s
15 Arjun Maini Trident 31 57.453s
16 Roy Nissany Campos Vexatec Racing 31 1m27.436s
17 Antonio Fuoco Charouz Racing System 31 1m47.169s
18 Nirei Fukuzumi BWT Arden 31 1m50.462s
19 Tadasuke Makino RUSSIAN TIME 30 1 Lap
- Roberto Merhi MP Motorsport 0 Not started

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