Monaco GP2: Markelov robs Nato of win in VSC farce
Artem Markelov provisionally claimed the first win of his GP2 career by gaining time on erstwhile leader Norman Nato behind the virtual safety car in a chaotic Monaco race.
Opting to stay out later than anyone on a prime-option strategy, Markelov, who had started in P15, got a serious boost from the numerous crashes to gain a ton of time under VSC and emerge ahead of Nato after his pitstop.
Having topped his qualifying group to secure a front row start, Nato eased past slow-starting poleman Sergey Sirotkin to lead into Ste Devote.
But the Russian quickly recovered from the poor getaway, holding off Nato's teammate Jordan King and setting out after the Frenchman, who he followed closely over the opening laps.
Eventually, Nato established some breathing room, heading Sirotkin by a second on lap 11 as King dropped off the duo.
At that point, Sirotkin allowed himself a mistake, cutting the Nouvelle Chicane and dropping back - but it took the Renault test driver just five laps to recover the lost time.
Meanwhile, in a battle that would later decide the podium, Oliver Rowland attempted a rare overtaking move on Mitch Evans into Nouvelle Chicane, the Kiwi cutting the corner to stay ahead - which would later result in a five-second penalty.
As the race approached halfway, Pierre Gasly, who had been relegated to a pitlane start from missing the weighbridge, clobbered Arden's Jimmy Eriksson, the debris from the accident the first of the race's many virtual safety car periods.
The VSC was soon lifted, with Sirotkin gaining massively on Nato - only for his ART Grand Prix machine to fishtail on exit of Piscine and smack the wall, making it a second consecutive feature race retirement for the Russian.
That made it a Racing Engineering 1-2 out front as the VSC came out again while Sirotkin's car was removed - and, as the race went back to green, it was immediately back to VSC conditions for a crash for Nabil Jeffri at La Rascasse.
That would be far from the end of the race's drama, with King hitting the wall in the next green flag stretch and retiring in the pits, giving provisional second place to Rowland, who had passed Evans on one of the VSC restarts.
The frontrunners, all running a prime-option strategy, pitted with around 10 laps remaining, Nato being the latest to do so - and the Racing Engineering driver's stop went poorly, costing him a sizable gap he had built up over Rowland, even if he did rejoin just ahead.
The slow stop did have more serious repercussions, however, as Markelov, staying out late and having run 20 seconds behind Nato at that point, started gaining time on worn primes, before a VSC came out for Luca Ghiotto's Trident car shedding debris.
That VSC period soon ended, only to be immediately replaced by another VSC as Ghiotto came to a halt on track - and it is during that hold-up that Markelov gained time on Nato.
Pitting as the track went green for the final time, Markelov emerged ahead of Nato and held him off on cold tyres to take the chequered flag in first.
Nato and Rowland completed a provisional podium, ahead of Alex Lynn, Evans, and Markelov's teammate Raffaele Marciello.
An option-prime strategy saw Antonio Giovinazzi take seventh, while Marvin Kirchhofer, on a similar strategy, took the reverse-grid pole after Ghiotto's retirement.
Nobuharu Matsushita and Daniel de Jong completed the points.
|1||Artem Markelov||Russian Time||1:01:27.183|
|2||Norman Nato||Racing Engineering||1.541|
|3||Oliver Rowland||MP Motorsport||3.187|
|5||Mitch Evans||Pertamina Campos Racing||11.723|
|6||Raffaele Marciello||Russian Time||15.025|
|8||Nobuharu Matsushita||ART Grand Prix||21.582|
|9||Daniel de Jong||MP Motorsport||22.343|
|11||Antonio Giovinazzi*||PREMA Racing||25.037|
|13||Sean Gelael||Pertamina Campos Racing||31.295|
|15||Pierre Gasly||PREMA Racing||49.748|
|16||Philo Paz Armand||Trident||1 Lap|
|Ret||Jimmy Eriksson||Arden International|
|Ret||Jordan King||Racing Engineering|
|Ret||Nabil Jeffri||Arden International|
|Ret||Sergey Sirotkin||ART Grand Prix|
*Giovinazzi and Malja were handed five-second post-race time penalties for gaining unfair advantage at Turn 10 and 1 respectively.
Gasly, Canamasas excluded from GP2 qualifying
Giovinazzi penalty hands Matsushita pole for Monaco sprint
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|Drivers||Norman Nato , Oliver Rowland , Artem Markelov|