Strategy provided the GP2 Series drivers with some great opportunities at the second round of the season in Monaco, where the P Zero Yellow soft tyres and P Zero Supersoft tyres were nominated.
Artem Markelov won the feature race from 15th on the grid thanks to some fantastic tyre management skills and a great strategy from his team, Russian Time.
Racing Engineering driver Norman Nato led the race on the P Zero Yellow soft tyres until he made his mandatory pitstop on lap 31, but Markelov managed to go seven laps further when he took over first place and lapped faster than anybody else.
That speed, with the help of some virtual safety car periods (there were five such interventions in total during the race as drivers were caught out by the unforgiving street circuit) and a quick pit stop from his team, enabled Markelov to emerge on the supersoft tyres just in front of Nato with only two laps to go.
Prema Racing’s Antonio Giovinazzi was the highest-placed driver to start the race on supersoft tyres, in seventh, and although that helped him to gain a place at the beginning, the strategy didn’t pay off and he ultimately finished the race in the same position that he started in.
Nobuharu Matsushita won the sprint race in dominant fashion from pole position on the reverse grid, setting the fastest lap on lap 28 of 30 as the ART Grand Prix driver extracted great pace from the soft tyres throughout. Marvin Kirchhofer finished second for Carlin in just his fourth race after graduating from GP3, on his first time in Monaco. In the feature race, Kirchhofer and Matsushita had been the highest-finishing drivers that started on the P Zero Red supersoft tyres and switched to the soft. Nato leads the drivers’ standings after finishing the sprint race in sixth.
Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola concluded: After an accident in qualifying, Markelov proved that it’s still possible to have a brilliant race in Monaco, even though overtaking is very difficult. The strategic decision to leave the mandatory pitstop so late, while still having strong enough performance from the soft tyres to be the quickest driver on track, was key to his victory. Even though wear and degradation is relatively low in Monaco, tyre management is still important. Matsushita maintained the performance of his soft tyres in the sprint race to pull away from the rest and set the fastest lap near the end.
The next round of the GP2 Series will take place on another street circuit, with a first visit to Baku: the capital of Azerbaijan, from 17-19 June.