The FIA Formula Two championship tried a new spin on its format this weekend, with both races set for the Sunday, and that suited Andy Soucek just fine, as the championship leader claimed a victory and a fourth place at Donington. Julien Jousse...
The FIA Formula Two championship tried a new spin on its format this weekend, with both races set for the Sunday, and that suited Andy Soucek just fine, as the championship leader claimed a victory and a fourth place at Donington. Julien Jousse took the win in the second race.
"This was the kind of race you dream about: it was perfect," Soucek said after his first-race victory. "From the start I hit the boost at just the right moment and in the right place, and it was fantastic - I don't think I will be able to repeat such a start many times. "
Indeed, it was very impressive for an evenly-matched field driving spec Williams chassis and Audi engines. Soucek took the start in the rhird grid position, but as the lights went out, he had the timing spot-on, and led into the first corner over Mikhail Aleshin and polesitter Tobias Hegewald.
"I was pretty surprised at the start," Aleshin recounted. "I was probably still in first gear and Andy came past me! I had a good start, but probably not as good as Andy."
From there, the young Spaniard essentially ran away and hid, consistently clocking fast lap times and pulling away from any potentials challengers. He finished the race 9.799 ahead of Aleshin, a lifetime by the standards of the closely-fought F2 series.
Aleshin was under pressure from Hegewald early on, but gradually he was able to pick up the pace, and eventually his pursuer began to fall back. At the chequered flag the gap was over two seconds in the young Russian star's favour.
"Tobias gave me a hard time during the race," Aleshin said. "I was on the limit basically on every corner and just saw Tobias coming closer and closer."
Hegewald wasn't able to cruise to the finish, though, as Milos Pavlovic was intent on gaining a podium place, and pursued the German with vigour. With five laps remaining in the race, Pavlovic took a look on the outside at the Esses, and when Hogewald moved over, dove through on the inside instead. Alas, the Serbian's race lasted just two more laps, his podium hopes going up in smoke as his engine expired and he pulled to the side of the track.
That gave the third step of the podium back to Hegewald, with Eduardo Piscopo, Philipp Eng, Sebastian Hohenthal and Julien Jousse all following in close formation across the line, the latter two having recovered from second-lap contact that had dropped them down the order.
If the first race victory had been a comfortable one for Soucek, then the second one sw a lopsided victory by Jousse, who had claimed a pole-position start in yesterday's second qualifying session.
Jousse made sure of getting first to the first turn, and he was not to be surprised. However, even as he made quick work of his challengers, he quickly got unexpected competition in the form of the safety car, as five drivers came together in an apparent attempt to emulate NASCAR's "the Big One."
That out of the way, though, Jousse set to work again on lap six, and was fully fifteen seconds clear of Kazim Vasiliauskas at the finish.
"I'm happy because everything went right in this race," said Jousse afterward. "It was not the case this morning, because I made a big mistake and missed an opportunity to score big points. I'm happy to win after this pole. I was quick all weekend and I am happy to confirm that with a win."
Vasiliauskas had done what Soucek did in the first race, with a lightning start that took him from fourth on the grid to second by the time the field made it around the first corner. from there he drove a steady, unchallenged race to second place, far behind Jousse but still two seconds in front Mirko Bortolotti. The latter lost second to the Lithuanian at the start, but then successfully defended third place against Soucek's advances.
Hohenthal was running fourth for the first half of the race, but on lap 17 Soucek made a daring pass on the outside at the Craner Curves, and that was it for the Swede. Soucek did try to challenge Bortolotti in the closing laps, but after a trip through the gravel trap at the Esses, he settled for fourth and five key championship points.
From the championship perspective, it was a near-perfect weekend for Soucek, as he scored 15 points and his nearest rival, Robert Wickens, failed to capture a single point after ongoing engine woes and finally contact with Alex Brundle in the second race.
With three race weekends remaining, Soucek has a convincing 22-point lead atop the standings, with 61 points to Wickens' 39. Jousse and Hegewald follow at 37 and 34 points, respectively.
The series' German stop is next, with the circus making a visit to Oschersleben in three weeks' time.