Carlin’s Lando Norris has taken an incredible lights to flag victory in the opening round of the 2018 FIA Formula Two Championship as the team secured a 1-2 finish in Bahrain. The British racer, the youngest in the field, stormed off the line and never looked back as he dominated to take the flag first and claim his maiden win in the ultra-competitive series. Team mate Sérgio Sette Câmara was equally impressive this afternoon and made a lightning start up to second position off the line from his sixth-placed starting grid; an exciting race followed for the Brazilian racer before he took the flag in second overall marking a supreme Carlin 1-2 finish in the teams’ return to the series.
Starting on the medium compound tyre, the Carlin pair had to wait longer than usual for the lights to go out due to two stranded cars on the grid. However when the lights eventually extinguished pole-sitter Norris launched well to maintain the lead but it was Sette Câmara who managed one of the greatest starts to storm from his sixth-placed grid slot all the way up to second behind his team mate.
Over the next few corners, Norris used the advantage of clear air ahead to his favour and pulled a great gap over his team mate while Sette Câmara soon found pressure coming from behind as Nyck De Vries hounded him down. The Brazilian racer lost position to De Vries going in to the second lap as he sat back and waited for the opportune moment to take revenge later in the race; aware of crucial tyre management in the early stages.
Up and down the field over the next few laps, the battles raged on with Sette Câmara finding himself as one of those enjoying the action. The Carlin man, who had lost out to Alexander Albon, soon took the position back before pulling an incredible move on De Vries going in to the first corner to push back up to second overall.
Soon enough, the pit window opened; George Russell came in early which gave him the undercut on track despite Sette Câmara covering the move in the pits himself. This left Sette Câmara with work to do which he quickly accomplished, overtaking the ART Grand Prix man a little while later.
Norris meanwhile had been running well up the road with nearly a ten-second gap as he came in to the pit lane himself for the softer compound tyre change. The strong gap he had pulled in the earlier stages ensured that with all pit stops complete he retook the lead of the race before continuing to extend his advantage once again.
However drama began to unfold in the final laps when Artem Markelov, who had been one of the stalled cars on the grid, began to carve his way through the field. Gaining position after position he was soon right up behind Sette Câmara. Markelov closed to within the DRS zone and was right up on Sette Câmara’s gearbox – the Carlin driver defended incredibly well as the final lap approached. Placing his Formula Two car inch-perfectly Sette Câmara was calm and collected throughout to give nothing away.
Despite the final lap drama, it was a brilliant composed victory for Norris who claimed a super impressive victory in the opening race of the 2018 FIA Formula Two Championship – securing points for his pole position, the race win and fastest lap along the way. Sette Câmara also ensured that Carlin’s return to the championship couldn’t have gone better to make it a Carlin 1-2 finish.
Norris, who won his opening races with Carlin in the British F4 Championship, BRDC British Formula Three Championship, the FIA Formula Three European Championship and now the FIA Formula Two Championship said, “I feel very good after that race – it was a great way to start the season and especially with a 1-2 for the team, it’s even better. The start today was great, and I felt comfortable in the first stint on the medium tyres.
“So far, it’s been good with everything we’ve done as a team, we’ve got to keep the consistency up there and look for another great start tomorrow in the Sprint Race. We know what we have to do tomorrow, and even though I don’t have a clear track ahead of me like today I’ll be aiming to overtake and get more good points.”
Sette Câmara added, “I’m very pleased with how the race went and that we achieved a 1-2 for the team. Sixth position was not an ideal place to start today but thankfully we recovered well and had good pace between us. We have 18 points in our pocket now and tomorrow start from seventh, so I think we can go forward from there again to secure more good points. I’m pleased that the hard work has paid off for the team and it’s such a great boost for them to have a result like this.”
The Carlin duo will be back out on track tomorrow for the Sprint Race at 14:15 local time.