Artem Markelov admits that he's expecting to feel a lot of pressure during the first free practice session in Russia, in which he will drive the Renault R.S. 18. Renault confirmed earlier this month that the Russian would drive the session instead of Carlos Sainz.
The Formula 2 driver has been linked to a Williams seat for the 2019 season, and will be looking to impress on his weekend debut in Formula 1. However, the 24-year-old is anticipating pressure to come his way in front of a home crowd.
“I’m excited for the weekend, but there’s going to be a lot of pressure from the fans, friends and family because there will be a lot of people who haven’t seen me race live before,” said Markelov. “I’m really looking forward to it, but I need to calm down and focus on doing my job well.
“I don’t know the circuit so well, as I’ve only done two race weekends there and that was at the start of my GP2 career. The results weren’t great, so this year I aim to do well.”
Markelov is currently racing in the Formula 2 championship this year, sitting in fourth place heading into the penultimate round of the season. Despite also having to focus on F2 duties as well as his F1 role, he is aiming to enjoy his experience.
"It’s going to be very special,” Markelov said. “Especially as it’s my first free practice session in Formula 1. I’ve already done the young driver test at the Hungaroring in August, which was amazing, but this is going to be another really nice experience for me as I’ll be working closely with the team at a Grand Prix for the first time.
“I’ll be aiming to understand everything, take it a step at a time and then try to improve the car for the guys ahead of the rest of the weekend. Hopefully I can contribute to a successful weekend, that would be nice."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing