Aside from the Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo is also famous for its casino (which of course lends its name to the part of the circuit that winds its way past the front door). To succeed in either takes skill, experience and quite a bit of luck.
The same applies in the Formula 2 races around the streets of Monaco, and Artem Markelov’s feature race triumph was a perfect case in point. He certainly got a large slice of luck, when Alex Albon and Nyck de Vries unusually made contact when they tried to pit at the same time just in front of him.
Markelov didn’t win thanks to that good fortune alone, though. Rather than also pit during that safety car period, his strategy for the race was to go long and make his mandatory change of tyres late on. That was hardly a surprising decision, because the same tactic worked wonders for him two years ago, when his first win at this level came in the very same race.
Since then, the Russian Time driver has gained a reputation for his strong tyre management skills. He has gained them with his experience in the series, where being able to manage the tyres is promoted as a key skill that young drivers need to learn before they get to Formula 1.
As Monaco is a relatively low-speed circuit, tyre wear and degradation are pretty low, but with Pirelli nominating the two softest tyres in the F2 range (the soft and supersoft), there is still a degree of tyre management required in the races.
While it did present him with the lead, the safety car period also threatened Markelov’s chances of winning, because it bunched the field up, reducing his advantage over the drivers who had already made their pit-stop. This meant that when the race restarted, he had to try and increase that margin again if he was to rejoin in the lead after his stop: a more favourable scenario than coming out behind and then trying to overtake on a circuit where passing is notoriously difficult.
Markelov was able to pull it off, lapping faster than his rivals while also managing his older tyres, pitting with only five laps to go and rejoining in the net race lead. Proof that luck, experience and skill are the keys to winning big in Monte Carlo.