Bahrain F2: Norris dominates opener in Carlin 1-2

Lando Norris dominated the season-opening Formula 2 race to lead a Carlin 1-2 in Bahrain, as Artem Markelov stormed from the pitlane to the podium.

Bahrain F2: Norris dominates opener in Carlin 1-2

McLaren F1 reserve Norris controlled the 31-lap race from pole position and was unchallenged up front, as teammate Sergio Sette Camara prevailed in a thrilling scrap with the charging Markelov.

Norris surged clear of his opponents off the line to leave himself untroubled into Turn 1, as Sette Camara sliced through slow-starting rivals to grab second, from sixth on the grid.

Norris pulled 2.4 seconds on Sette Camara by the end of the opening lap, though the Brazilian's grip on second weakened as Prema's Nyck de Vries snatched the spot into Turn 1.

Norris continued to hammer out an advantage – as much as a second per lap – as de Vries came under pressure from Sette Camara, the Carlin driver eventually recapturing second place.

The leading group all ran the Prime/Option tyre strategy and duly made their stops midway through the race, with Norris retaining a sizeable advantage despite a slow left-rear change and complaints of an engine glitch.

Sette Camara was undercut by erstwhile front-row starter George Russell but quickly dispatched the ART racer as focus switched to Markelov, who rose through the field after a technical problem at the conclusion of the formation lap relegated him to the pit lane.

Markelov emerged into the top 10 within five laps and from there picked off rivals with a sequence of sublime passes, as he put his vast experience in the series to good use.

Markelov honed in on Sette Camara across the final couple of laps and the pair ran side-by-side along the pit straight as they jostled for second.

Markelov held the inside line but Sette Camara boldly jinked back under braking to reclaim the position, securing a 1-2 for Carlin upon its return to the championship, with Norris' post-pitstop complaints of an engine issue coming to nought.

Alexander Albon recovered from a low-key start to grab fourth position, having occasionally grappled with an ill-performing DRS, with reigning GP3 champion Russell the best-placed debutant in fifth.

Russell's prospects of converting his front-row start into a podium were thwarted by suffering wheelspin off the line, while he also complained of top-speed struggles later in the race.

De Vries lost ground across the pit phase, accentuated by a wide moment, but recovered ground to take sixth place, ahead of Prema teammate Sean Gelael, who rose from 19th on the grid.

Arden's Maximilian Gunther took eighth place – and with it sprint race pole – on his debut, as Jack Aitken and Ralph Boschung rounded out the top 10.

2017 F2 race winners Nicholas Latifi and Luca Ghiotto took only 11th and 12th, the Campos driver hampered by a drive-through penalty for colliding with Tadasuke Makino at Turn 1.

Louis Deletraz was a contender for points early on but regressed to 13th across the closing laps, while Trident was the only team to run the alternative Option/Prime strategy, but to no avail, with Santino Ferrucci 14th and practice pacesetter Arjun Maini 15th after a front-jack failure in the pits.

Ex-F1 driver Roberto Merhi caused an additional formation lap when his MP Motorsport machine failed on the grid, and the Spaniard pithily radioed in to confirm "the car is f***ed", and he went no further.

Race results:

1 19 united_kingdom Lando Norris  united_kingdom Carlin 31 laps
2 18   Sergio Sette Camara  united_kingdom Carlin 7.6
3 1 russia Artem Markelov russia RUSSIAN TIME 7.9
4 5 thailand Alexander Albon france DAMS 9.3
5 8 united_kingdom George Russell  france ART Grand Prix 14.0
6 4 netherlands Nyck de Vries  Prema Racing 15.9
7 3 indonesia Sean Gelael  Prema Racing 19.3
8 11   Maximilian Gunther  BWT Arden 22.1
9 10 switzerland Ralph Boschung netherlands MP Motorsport 26.2
10 7 united_kingdom Jack Aitken  france ART Grand Prix 29.0
11 6 canada Nicholas Latifi  france DAMS 33.0
12 14 italy Luca Ghiotto  Campos Racing 43.2
13 20 switzerland Louis Deletraz  czech_republic Charouz Racing System 43.3
14 17 united_states Santino Ferrucci italy Trident 54.3
15 16 india Arjun Maini  italy Trident 57.6
16 15 israel Roy Nissany  Campos Racing 88.9
17 12 japan Nirei Fukuzumi  BWT Arden 103.9
18 21 italy Antonio Fuoco  czech_republic Charouz Racing System 104.9
19 2 japan  Tadasuke Makino  russia RUSSIAN TIME 1 lap
Ret 9 spain Roberto Merhi  netherlands MP Motorsport 30 laps
Haas expecting consistent top-10 results from Maini in F2

Previous article

Haas expecting consistent top-10 results from Maini in F2

Next article

Bahrain F2: Markelov takes sprint race win

Bahrain F2: Markelov takes sprint race win
Load comments
The Red Bull F1 junior aiming to defy geographical odds Prime

The Red Bull F1 junior aiming to defy geographical odds

It's a long way from Pukekohe New Zealand to Milton Keynes, but Red Bull's Kiwi protege Liam Lawson has defied plenty of odds to reach the rung below F1. He's endured disappointment since winning on his F2 debut in Bahrain, but is determined to turn his season around and prove himself worthy of a place on the F1 grid

Jul 27, 2021
How Red Bull's next F1 hopeful turned around his season Prime

How Red Bull's next F1 hopeful turned around his season

Having impressed in Formula 3, Juri Vips looked to be next cab off the rank in Red Bull's prestigious Junior Team before his 2020 schedule was dealt a heavy blow by the COVID-19 pandemic. After a tough start to life in Formula 2, Vips is showing signs of a recovery - could he be the first Estonian to reach Formula 1?

Jun 14, 2021
How F1 hopeful Pourchaire is re-writing the F2 record books Prime

How F1 hopeful Pourchaire is re-writing the F2 record books

He'd marked himself out as a star of the future in last year's FIA Formula 3 championship, but 17-year-old Theo Pourchaire underlined his credentials by winning his first Formula 2 race in the Monaco feature. Sauber junior status gives him a clear route to the top, but with wisdom beyond his years, he's not getting caught up in his own hype.

Jun 3, 2021
The F1 hopeful living two lives to keep his dream alive Prime

The F1 hopeful living two lives to keep his dream alive

Having lost his backing from Red Bull, Richard Verschoor has had to graft to continue his ascent up the single-seater ladder. An impressive Formula 2 debut in Bahrain, despite the lateness of his deal, shows his unorthodox approach is paying dividends.

Apr 22, 2021
Was Formula 2’s radical format switch a success? Prime

Was Formula 2’s radical format switch a success?

Going into the 2021 Formula 2 season the biggest talking point wasn’t about any drivers or teams, but the new race weekend format. Created partly out of financial necessity but also to spice up the action, the Bahrain opener provided a snapshot of the positives and negatives to come.

Apr 4, 2021
Why 2021 is make-or-break for the driver F1 needs Prime

Why 2021 is make-or-break for the driver F1 needs

He was tipped for glory in FIA Formula 2 last year, but was hampered by reliability woes at inopportune moments. Guanyu Zhou knows he won't get too many more chances if he is to become China's first F1 driver, with fierce competition within the ranks of Alpine's junior stable

Mar 25, 2021
Ranked! Carlin's greatest F1 graduates Prime

Ranked! Carlin's greatest F1 graduates

Carlin has helped guide enough drivers to Formula 1 to fill out an entire grid, plus a handful of reserves, to create a remarkable alumni list. With Yuki Tsunoda set to join that group, has ranked its graduates to grace the grand prix scene...

Formula 1
Feb 22, 2021
How Mick Schumacher earned his Haas F1 chance Prime

How Mick Schumacher earned his Haas F1 chance

Michael Schumacher may have won seven Formula 1 titles, but he didn't even compete for a crown at the second tier. Son Mick put that right in 2020, and proved to Ferrari that he was deserving of a shot at motorsport's elite category in 2021…

Formula 1
Jan 9, 2021