Russell finishes 5th in Bahrain FIA Formula 2 Feature Race
George Russell took 5th position in the opening race of the 2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship in a challenging race in the heat of the Sakhir International Circuit.
Russell lined up on the front row, after qualifying 2nd on the grid in Friday's qualifying session - narrowly pipped by Lando Norris to pole position. An aborted first start delayed proceedings as Artem Markelov and Roberto Mehri stalled on the grid.
After a second formation lap, Russell had a poor start with lots of wheelspin - putting him immediately under pressure from drivers around him down the long run into turn one. Russell managed to hold 5th position after a frantic and difficult first lap.
Tyre management was required early on, as Russell attempted to manage his tyres through the early stages. He came under attack from Alexander Albon, who managed to make his way past into turn one - with Russell struggling with straight line speed.
Early tyre management payed off as Russell joined the four-car battle for 2nd position, Russell moved up into 4th position after overtaking Nyck de Vries on lap 14.
ART Grand Prix took the gamble with bringing Russell in early for the undercut strategy on lap 15 - putting on the soft tyre for the remainder of the 31 lap race.
Russell managed to jump rivals Albon, de Vries and Sergio Sette Camara in the pitstops and moved into a net 2nd position. However the gamble put Russell in a difficult position in defending from his rivals - as he required to nurse his tyres an extra three laps compared to his opponents.
Camara and Albon managed to make their way past Russell down the start / finish straight, again with Russell unable to defend with a lack of top speed, even with the DRS enabled.
Russell maintained 4th for another couple of laps before being overtaken by the late stopping Markelov with eight laps to go.
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Reserve Driver managed to hold onto 5th position, just ahead of de Vries to bag himself 10 world championship points on his FIA Formula 2 debut.
Race two of the weekend, the partially reserved grid 'Sprint Race; takes place on Sunday 8th April at 14:15 (GMT +3), shown live again on Sky Sports F1 HD.
Russell will be starting in 4th position on the grid, as the top eight positions are reversed for the second race of the weekend.
With the race once again taking place during the warmer temperatures of the afternoon, balancing tyre management and all out pace will once again be crucial to round out the first round of the 2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship.