F2

Wickens opens F2 season with a pole

After a 25-year hiatus, Formula Two has returned to the race track, and Robert Wickens will have his name recorded in the history books as the first pole position winner in the "new" F2 series, having edged Tobias Hegewald by 0.014 seconds in ...

After a 25-year hiatus, Formula Two has returned to the race track, and Robert Wickens will have his name recorded in the history books as the first pole position winner in the "new" F2 series, having edged Tobias Hegewald by 0.014 seconds in today's qualifying session in Valencia, Spain.

It's definitely an honour to take the first pole position in Formula Two!" said Wickens after celebrating his pole. "All through testing and practice I've been relatively quick so it's nice to say I got the first pole of the year, but it's the first race of a long season so I've just got to get my head down and focus on the rest of the weekend."

Wickens set his fast time of 1:27.775 early in the session, on his first timed run on his new set of tires -- the drivers each had one new set and two used sets of tires available to them for today's practice and qualifying sessions. As might have been expected, the traffic got heavy late in the session, and most of the fast drivers complained of having been baulked in their final runs.

"I don't want to give too much away but perhaps I could have gone faster," Wickens admitted. "In the end, though, my lap was good enough for pole position and I'm very happy."

Hegewald was very close indeed, just missing out on the pole. The 19-year-old German was the positive surprise of the qualifying session: many had not expected him to be challenging for pole position after spending most of the test and practice sessions in the midfield.

"I did quite a good lap on my first set of tyres -- unfortunately 14 thousandths too slow for pole," Hegewald said. "On my second set on tyres I hit traffic so I couldn't improve my time. I'm happy with second, and the overboost may well be useful in overtaking Robert tomorrow!"

The two drivers on the second row of the grid, Andy Soucek and Carlos Iaconelli, were even more closely matched, with Soucek just two thousandths ahead of his Brazilian rival. Still, third place was a disappointment for Soucek, who had shared the top of the timesheets with Wickens for most of the test and practice sessions to date.

"I've been really happy with how things went in the first and second practice; I think I have been quickest by a good margin," Soucek recounted. "I thought I would be faster on my second set of new tyres -- in the end I just tried to do my best and it was not enough, so well done to these guys. Tomorrow the race is long and tyres could be a big factor; I'm quite used to that from GP2 so hopefully I have an advantage there. I'm hoping to get a good result for my home fans -- obviously starting from third is not the best, but I can still win the race."

Mikhail Aleshin, too, can be happy about having put in a quick time of 1:28.113 in the opening minutes of the sessions, as Julien Jousse matched his time exactly, giving the fifth spot to Aleshin by the virtue of having set the time first. Eduardo Piscopo was not far behind, taking seventh place with a time of 1:28.130, just 0.017 adrift of the Aleshin-Jousse pair.

Overall, the organizers must be satisfied with the level of competition. Driving the identically prepared Williams-Audi cars, the top 15 drivers were covered by less than a second, and all but three drivers were within 1.75 seconds of the pole position time.

The drivers will participate in tomorrow morning's second qualifying session, which will set the grid for the second race, before gridding tomorrow afternoon for the first Formula Two race since 1984.

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About this article
Series F2
Drivers Eduardo Piscopo , Robert Wickens , Julien Jousse , Mikhail Aleshin , Andy Soucek
Teams Williams