Palmer wraps up a perfect weekend at Monza

Jolyon Palmer took the victory in the second FIA Formula Two race today at Monza, adding to his first-race win and two pole positions -- a sweep of everything that mattered at the legendary Italian circuit.

Jolyon Palmer.
Photo by FIA Formula Two Championship.

"It was a perfect weekend," Palmer smiled. "This win was more straightforward than yesterday's: there was no safety car, and I just managed to find another gear to drive to the chequered flag."

Palmer easily held position into the first turn after the lights went green, followed by Will Bratt, who slipped by the slow-starting Sergey Afanasiev. Bratt had no answer to Palmer's speed, though, and the Briton slowly inched away from his challenger, finishing 3.917 seconds clear after an eventless cruise to the finish.

Behind Palmer, though, things were considerably less calm. Mihai Marinescu stalled his car on the starting grid, and Nicola de Marco spun trying to avoid hitting the Romanian. de Marco's race ended there, but greater carnage was avoided and the field got under way without having to resort to the safety car.

Behind Bratt and Anafasiev, incoming championship leader Philipp Eng held his fourth position at the start, but on the second lap Dean Stoneman misjudged his late-braking abilities at the first chicane, and ran into the back of the Austrian's car, taking out of the race not only Eng but also sixth-placed Johan Jokinen.

Once he had punted Eng aside, Stoneman bounced across the first chicane, but still maintained position Kazim Vasiliaukas. The Lithuanian saw an opportunity to challenge the struggling Stoneman into the second Lesmo curve, but could not control his car and ended up spinning into the wall.

With three of his challengers now scattered in the runoff areas, Stoneman was able to complete the race in fourth place with relative ease, holding off Armaan Ebrahim and Benjamin Bailly.

Ahead of him, though, Afanasiev was not satisfied with third: having caught up with Bratt late in the race, on the penultimate lap the Russian pulled a stunning move on the inside of Bratt in the Curva Grande to take second place.

With three victories from the six F2 starts this season, Palmer is now the front-runner for the championship, leading the title fight with 103 points to Stoneman's 91 and Eng's 80.

The two victories at Monza, combined with Eng's weekend to forget, more than made up for Palmer's troubles at the previous event, Marrakech, and have very much changed the incipient character of the championship fight.

"At Marrakech I think Philipp and Dean both thought it was a two-horse race for the championship," Palmer recalled. "It's obviously not, I've had a great weekend and it proves the championship is very open.

His third place today moves Bratt to fourth in the championship with 60 points, ahead of Afanasiev, who now has 51.

The series will next return to action at Zolder in Belgium in four weeks' time.