F2 Azerbaijan: Norris vs Markelov takes centre stage

The FIA Formula 2 Championship moves swiftly on to the second round of the calendar, with the field returning to racing action at the Baku Street Circuit in Azerbaijan.

A unique venue, the circuit is a blend of wide straights and right-angled corners, complemented by the narrow castle section and its historic architecture. Each race in Baku has produced thrilling action, and F2 aims to provide more of the same.

In the first round at Bahrain, Lando Norris (Carlin) grabbed his maiden victory having secured pole position for the feature race, as Artem Markelov’s (Russian Time) thrilling recovery drive in the opening race allowed him to fight for victory in the sprint after a masterclass in tyre management. Norris heads Markelov in the standings by nine points, with the former driver’s teammate Sergio Sette Camara slotting into third place.

With an already-large 37 point lead, Carlin sits atop the Teams’ Championship with Russian Time second, as all but two teams scored points in the opening round of the season. With Baku presenting a real challenge to the drivers, as they attempt to thread their cars through six kilometres of street circuit, the battle for honours should be hotly contested in The Land of Fire.

Season Stats

  • 9 The points difference between Championship leader Lando Norris and 2nd-placed Artem Markelov.
  • 12 The number of different drivers who scored points in Bahrain
  • 67 The number of points scored by newcomers Carlin in Round 1
  • 0.211s The final gap between 2nd (Sette Camara) and 3rd (Markelov) in the Bahrain Feature Race

Warm Up

Nicholas Latifi, DAMS: “Baku always has the makings to be one of the most exciting races of the year, thanks to the nature of the track. Obviously, the thing that stands out the most is that it’s a street track, so you have to take a bit of a different driving approach when you’re driving between all the walls; there’s no margin for error.”

“The actual flow of the track is interesting, the first part’s pretty much the same with straights and ninety-degree corners, so it’s not the most diverse, but it’s still quite fun because you have the castle, which is as narrow as it gets so there’s plenty of excitement there. The crazy long straight makes for great overtaking.”

“Things to look out for: in terms of degradation, there’s not too much tyre wear, but you have to pay attention to overheating, which can be just as bad as wearing them out, especially if the track temperature is quite warm.”

“The racing is always exciting, in some ways it almost feels like you’re back in the karting days where you have to have a bit of strategy, because the cars are so close in a DRS train. For myself, we had good results last year, and I’m just hoping for more of the same!”

Pirelli will supply their medium and supersoft tyre compounds for the races in Baku.

Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director: “Baku provides a real challenge for the drivers and tyres, as the fastest street circuit on the calendar, and one that has witnessed a few incidents in the past: thanks also to some narrow sections and limited run-off areas.”

“This year’s race could be quite different from last year in terms of track temperature, as it is being held much earlier in the season, so we can expect cooler weather. Unlike Formula 1, the Formula 2 sessions tend to be held in the middle of the day, which should at least mean that these track temperatures remain consistent. But there will almost certainly be a few new things to discover in these conditions and with these new cars.”


  • The race weekend in Azerbaijan is the second of the 12 rounds which make up the 2018 FIA Formula 2 calendar.
  • Last year’s feature race was won by 2017 F2 Champion Charles Leclerc, as Frenchman Norman Nato secured victory in the sprint.
  • At 6.003km long, the Baku Street Circuit is the second-longest track on the calendar – 1km shorter than Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium.
  • Lando Norris has led 30 laps in the opening round at Sakhir. That’s two times more than Artem Markelov.
  • Round 1 in Bahrain was the first time since Budapest 2017 that no rostrum featured a driver from Prema.
  • Four rookies scored points in Round 1: Maximilian Günther, George Russell, Jack Aitken and Nirei Fukuzumi.
  • German driver Günther is the only rookie who has finished on the podium (Sprint Race).
  • Sergio Sette Camara and Artem Markelov both took 2 podium finishes each in Round 1.
  • Five drivers have scored in both races in Bahrain: Lando Norris, Artem Markelov, Sergio Sette Camara, Maximilian Günther and Nyck De Vries.
  • Charouz Racing System and Trident are the only two teams who failed to score point in Round 1.
  • Campos Vexatec Racing took points only in the Sprint Race.