By The1nsider 3 months ago




This is the story of a young man who jauntily came to the final round of the season thinking that anything is possible: qualifying was never really Artem Markelov’s strongest point, but at the Yas Marina Circuit, he was determined to change that. He dominated the rest of the field to take a maiden pole position. He started the Feature Race on supersoft tyres and pitted on lap 6. But so did his championship rival Oliver Rowland. The Briton re-joined the track just behind him and muscled his way past Markelov a lap later. The pair who had opted for the winning tyre strategy (option/prime) drove their way to the finish line, with the Russian taking P2. He was later handed the win after Rowland was disqualified for technical infringement. We did the maths overnight and came to the undeniable conclusion that with pole and a win, Markelov had done just enough to claim second in the Drivers’ Championship with one race to go. But he was hungry for more: his team RUSSIAN TIME were then 20 points ahead of PREMA Racing in the standings and closer than ever to clinching the title. Both Markelov and Luca Ghiotto drove flawlessly to sixth and fifth respectively at the flag to score enough points for their team to become our 2017 Champions!


The French team finished a challenging season on a high: it started with Alexander Albon setting the fastest laptime in free practice. Both cars qualified P8 and P10 with Nobuharu Matsushita ahead of Albon. Unfortunately for the Thai driver, he was disqualified after the team were unable to provide the minimum fuel sample for analysis at the end of the session He recovered to a brilliant P7 from the back of the grid taking 2 more points along the way for fastest lap whilst Matsushita finished sixth. The next day went even better: Albon took the lead at the start from P2 on the reverse grid. He controlled the pack for the majority of the race, but Charles Leclerc zoomed in on him in the last stages. The Champion denied his GP3 teammate the win on the final lap. A disheartened Albon crossed the line in P2 – his second podium finish of the year. Matsushita took P4. All in all, ART scored a total of 36 points in Abu Dhabi, their second best race weekend result of the season.


The Italian team had one single objective for the weekend: to seal the 2017 team championship. They felt pretty confident following strong qualifying results with Antonio Fuoco P3 and Charles Leclerc P5. The two teammates started the race on different tyre strategy with the Italian opting for supersofts and the Monegasque driver selecting softs first. Leclerc once again gave his all and moved up to third place in the final stages, ahead of his teammate. He slowed down just before the line and saw Fuoco pass him for a podium finish. It was later found that the Italian’s front tyres were below the minimum specified tyre pressure and was thus disqualified. Leclerc eventually classified second benefitting from his teammate’s misfortune, but also from race winner Oliver Rowland’s disqualification as well for technical infringement. PREMA’s hopes for glory shrunk with Fuoco having to start the sprint race from P19. He finished outside of the points, but Leclerc charged from P7 to seventh win. It was not enough however to challenge RUSSIAN TIME. PREMA Racing finished 2017 with second place in the standings.


The final round of the season was a bit of the same unfortunately for Jordan King. The Briton recovered from a lowly P14 on the grid to tenth place at the chequered flag. Following the disqualification of both Oliver Rowland and Antonio Fuoco, King was promoted to P8 and handed reverse pole for Sunday. But when the lights went out, he bogged down to fifth. He then collected a puncture having to defend from a charging Markelov which effectively ruined his race and forced him into an early retirement.


The Briton has been a title contender throughout the 2017 season. He was disappointed to leave Jerez last month having to watch Charles Leclerc take the crown. He was determined however to become Vice Champion in Abu Dhabi. His mission: to keep Artem Markelov at bay. Things did not go to plan after the Russian grabbed pole position, but Rowland knew that with the right strategy and a perfect drive, he could fight for the win from P4 on the grid. The DAMS ace thought he was one step closer to achieving his goal after he claimed victory on Saturday ahead of his Russian rival. Sadly for him, it was found after the chequered flag that he had finished the race with a skid block which was below the prescribed thickness in the Technical Regulations. As a consequence, he was disqualified from the results which meant Markelov was handed the win and enough points to secure second in the Championship. On the last race of 2017, Rowland proved once again why he was a top man throughout the season: he started last on the grid but carved his way up to seventh at the flag, signing off in style.


  Issue 11 F2
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