Russian Time’s Artem Markelov took a sensational victory in a Formula 2 sprint race defined by tyre management at Jerez.
Markelov vaulted from third to first in the closing stages. First clearing Nicholas Latifi’s DAMS, Markelov then passed rookie Alex Palou – who surprisingly maintained a comfortable advantage at the front of the field during the first half of the race – to snatch the lead.
The Russian Time driver was joined on the podium by the DAMS duo of Latifi and Oliver Rowland in second and third respectively.
Luca Ghiotto eventually finished fourth, after lap 1 contact with Jordan King heavily compromised his race. Forced to battle back from an excursion through the gravel trap, Ghiotto’s race pace was scintillating.
Despite having commanded the race lead until the closing stages – an impressive feat on his maiden F2 weekend – Palou slipped to a comparatively disappointing eighth-place finish, as his Pirelli tyres hit the cliff.
Palou’s struggles were foreshadowed at the half-way mark. Several cars, including the newly-crowned champion Charles Leclerc and his team-mate Antonio Fuoco, were forced into a pit-stop as their medium tyres suffered a significant drop in performance.
The unorthodox strategy meant that the order was shuffled in the latter stages with the soft tyre runners scything through the pack. Fuoco recovered to fifth. Leclerc narrowly missed out on sixth as he was beaten by Nyck de Vries in a drag race towards the finish line.
King was the only driver not to be classified at the finish. The Mecachrome engine powering his MP Motorsport car expired on lap 4 when he was running in a promising second place.