De Vries pitted from the lead but couldn’t recover his position and Artem Markelov won the race.
The new car caused a few more problems at the start of the race: like yesterday, two cars stalled on the grid, this time before the formation lap. Latifi and Gelael, who was on the front row, started the race from the pit lane. Even worse luck was around the corner for both ARTs and Ferrucci, as they couldn’t get off the line as the lights went out and spent the race relegated to the last positions.
De Vries took advantage of Günther’s wheelspin to take the lead, while everyone behind had to avoid the stallers, with Camara and Norris lining up behind Markelov and the top two. Maini briefly occupied 8th place but Deletraz and Fukuzumi quickly demoted the Indian out of the points. The race leader pushed hard and extended his lead, setting the fastest lap of the race. Lando Norris then experienced power problems on the main straight and he pulled off line, but crucially lost a single place to Ghiotto; by turn 1 he had overcome those problems and returned ahead of the Campos driver within a couple of laps.
On lap five Markelov overtook Günther which left the rookie between him and the Carlins. On lap 8, Roberto Merhi pitted, and one lap later Prema, with less of a surprise than an year ago, brought de Vries in for a tyre change: the Dutch was three seconds in the lead and came out in the midfield, outside of the points-paying positions. The task weighed heavy on his shoulders: Charles Leclerc, using that same strategy, pitted from the lead and returned to the front to win on his second F2 start in 2018. Prema had done this before and it had worked: this time Deletraz, Nissany, Fuoco and, on lap 15, Gelael, tried their luck in the same way.
De Vries was the fastest man on track and set the quickest time of the race. He was up to eighth by lap 15, but more than 15 seconds off the leader. He got rid of Fukuzumi and Boschung ahead of him in one lap, and all this while Günther livened up Prema’s hopes by repeatedly questioning his own strategy on the radio, all while locking up twice in a lap. De Vries was sixth but ten laps from the position he formerly held, and the laps counter was approaching the dreaded 23. Meanwhile, Deletraz led the rest of the drivers who had pitted, in 12th position.
The Carlins had reached Günther’s tail. The drivers who finished one-two in the feature race must have been an awful sight in the pink Arden’s rear view mirrors, but Günther composed himself after that messy lap and defended well when Camara got within inches of his rear.
With four laps remaining, de Vries overtook Ghiotto for fifth place, his last exchange of position in the race. Norris was six seconds ahead and the fresher tyres on the Prema no longer gave the Dutchman the advantage he would have needed. Not that Norris was too busy looking after his tyres: Camara was too close not to consider an attack, but the team mates, despite not refraining, were fair and avoided risking their precious positions. Günther took advantage of this to build a small gap which helped him secure his second place in the final two laps.
Markelov was the one managing now: he lost a second to Günther in the closing stages, but had nothing to worry about. He crossed the line to win the race, his second win in Sakhir in the past two seasons. Günther scored a maiden podium while his team mate scored the final point in a last corner mayhem with half a dozen other drivers. Deletraz grasped P9 right at the end while Albon lost out most in the confusion, dropping to 13th place.
|1||Artem Markelov||Russian Time||23 laps||15|
|3||Sergio Sette Camara||Carlin||+3.803||10|
|5||Nyck de Vries||Prema||+10.265||6 + 2|
|7||Ralph Boschung||MP Motorsport||+23.511||2|
|11||Roberto Merhi||MP Motorsport||+25.804|
|17||Tadasuke Makino||Russian Time||+1:03.819|
|19||George Russell||ART||+1 lap|
|20||Santino Ferrucci||Trident||+1 lap|
|5||Nyck de Vries||Prema||1:47.711||11|
Fastest lap points
|5||Nyck de Vries||Prema||1:47.711||11|
|1||Lando Norris||United Kingdom||39|
|3||Sergio Sette Camara||Brazil||28|
|5||Nyck de Vries||Netherlands||16|
|7||George Russell||United Kingdom||10|
|11||Jack Aitken||United Kingdom||2|
|8||MP Motorsport||United Kingdom||3|