Artem Markelov controlled a tyre-dominated Formula 2 sprint race in Bahrain to take victory ahead of rookie Maximilian Gunther.

Markelov launched from sixth to third at the start and passed second-placed Gunther on lap five of the 23-lap sprint race.

He then seized the lead when Nyck de Vries made an unconventional sprint race pitstop on lap 10 as high tyre degradation was a concern for several teams.

At the front of the field, Markelov dominated the remainder of the race while managing his Pirellis. Gunther, who started from pole and finished second, fended off the Carlin duo of Sergio Sette Camara and Lando Norris despite suffering several lock-ups as his tyres degraded.

Camara prevailed in the Carlin intra-team battle, defending heavily from Norris in the final stages to finish third. Feature race winner Norris suffered an engine misfire in the opening laps which cost him several seconds. He was forced to settle for fourth.

De Vries dropped to 13th after making his pitstop. With the same strategy that was used by Charles Leclerc to take victory in the same race last season, he scythed back through the field but could only reach an eventual fifth place.

Both Charouz Racing System cars also attempted the same strategy. Louis Deletraz finished outside the points in ninth, while team-mate Antonio Fuoco was 12th.

Luca Ghiotto jumped from 12th on the grid to sixth on lap one and finished the race in the same position. He was followed home by Ralph Boschung and Nirei Fukuzumi to round-out the points scorers.

Sean Gelael stalled from second place at the start of the formation lap along with Nicholas Latifi. Both ART Grand Prix cars of George Russell (from fourth) and Jack Aitken (from ninth) stalled at the race start along with Santino Ferrucci.

Aitken, Russell and Ferrucci subsequently finished 18th, 19th and 20th respectively.