The reigning Formula 3 champion started from 11th on the grid and was forced into a strategy that he was not best pleased with at the start of the race. However, running long into the race on the medium tyres and then switching to the softs turned out to be the perfect route.
The Russian racer came out after his pitstop behind Luca Ghiotto, Callum Ilott and Mick Schumacher. However, with his fresh tyres, he made light work of these three drivers to quickly retake the lead and was untouchable from then on.
The second of the three Russian drivers on the grid this season came home in second, as Mazepin scored his maiden podium position in the series. He was another driver on this alternate strategy and went on a late charge to overtake his teammate Ghiotto and then Schumacher on the penultimate lap of the race.
At one stage in the race, it looked like Schumacher would win his first feature race after overtaking fellow Ferrari young driver Ilott for the lead. It was not to be though for Schumacher due to his slower strategy, but he will be hoping to fight for the win in the sprint race on Sunday.
Just outside of the podium places came Ghiotto, after a slow start meant he dropped down the order at the beginning of the race. He collided with Christian Lundgaard when making an overtake, with the Danish driver puncturing his tyre and losing the front wing. The stewards took no further action on the incident.
Felipe Drugovich crossed the line in fifth, just ahead of Red Bull junior driver Jehan Daruvala. The pair were both on the alternate strategy, fighting their way through the field in the closing stages of the race.
Louis Deletraz raced well to finish in seventh, as the Swiss driver nursed his battered medium tyres to the end of the race. He even managed to overtake Ilott in the last few laps of the race, even though it looked like the Brit was going to challenge for the win after the first round of pitstops. The Brit will start on pole for the reverse-grid sprint race on Sunday.
Another British driver followed him, as Dan Ticktum struggled throughout the race to claim ninth place. Ticktum looked to have good pace at the beginning of the race and was in a net second place after making an early pitstop, but that pace quickly disappeared as the laps ticked away.
Guanyu Zhou rounded out the top ten as he was another driver who struggled to cope with the medium tyres. It was also a difficult day for the two ART drivers Lundgaard and Marcus Armstrong as the team faced a double retirement.
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing