Mikhail Aleshin scored his first-ever Formula Two pole position at Oschersleben yesterday, and followed it up today with his first victory in the series, holding on for a scant 0.479-second edge over championship leader Andy ...
Mikhail Aleshin scored his first-ever Formula Two pole position at Oschersleben yesterday, and followed it up today with his first victory in the series, holding on for a scant 0.479-second edge over championship leader Andy Soucek.
"It's incredible," Aleshin said. "It was one of the most difficult races in my life I would say. I had a problem with the gearbox and couldn't shift down properly so I was losing a lot of time, especially in the first corner. Well I was pushing and I didn't make any mistakes, and that's why I'm sitting here in the middle!"
It looked bad at the start for the young Russian star as Julien Jousse challenged him into the first corner, taking the inside line, edging in front. However, as the two made their way to the left-hand second turn, "Hasseroder", Aleshin was now on the inside and held off Jousse's challenge. Worse for Jousse, Andy Soucek. who had started third, took advantage as well, slipping by the Frenchman at the same turn.
"That was not the best start I have done," Soucek recalled. "I saw the two guys fighting in front of me so I broke a bit earlier and I used the opportunity on the second corner where they were parallel fighting together, and I went a bit inside. Julien was quite fair to me and didn't close, otherwise we would have probably crashed. It was a bit of a risk for the championship, but it went well."
Soucek pursued Aleshin throughout the race, but avoided risks, and the 22-year-old Muscovite showed poise and maturity in keeping his car on track and ahead of the pressuring Soucek in spite of the gearbox problems he was experiencing.
Jousse finished third in the three-car train at the front, 0.582 seconds behind Soucek, and just over a second behind Aleshin.
"For me the championship is finished for sure," he said. "But I will fight the maximum for second position."
The final two championship rivals -- Jousse lies fourth in the title chase -- Mirko Bortolotti and Robert Wickens, both in the Red Bull junior squad with Aleshin, started fourth and fifth after yesterday's qualifying. Bortolotti, who took second in Saturday's race, failed to get a clean start and Wickens shot through into fourth place. The Canadian kept up with the leading trio until the closing laps when he fell back a bit, finishing 1.8 seconds behind Jousse. Bortolotti dropped out of the race after 15 laps.
That gave fifth place to Nicola de Marco, who was in turn followed in sixth by Tobias Hegewald, who had triggered the massive first-lap melee yesterday in the first race of the weekend.
Soucek had a slight opportunity to clinch the title today, but while he failed to do that, he strengthened his hand further. With only a maximum of 40 points available in the remaining four races, the 24-year-old Spaniard now has a 32-point lead over Aleshin, with Wickens a further two points back. Notably the Red Bull drivers hold three of the five top positions, with Bortolotti in fifth, but Soucek has the lock on the one position everyone has been aiming for.