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Britain’s Lando Norris dominated the season-opening Formula 2 feature race to lead a Carlin 1-2 in Bahrain, as Artem Markelov stormed from the pit lane to the podium.
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.
In Sunday’s sprint race, which reverses the grid order for the top eight finishers of the feature race, Renault F1 tester Artem Markelov rose from sixth to take victory, as Nyck de Vries’ pit stop approach failed to pay off.