Dean Stoneman took the victory in the weekend's first FIA Formula Two race at Oschersleben, and then immediately followed that up by scoring the pole position for the second race. Dean Stoneman. Photo by FIA Formula Two ...
Dean Stoneman took the victory in the weekend's first FIA Formula Two race at Oschersleben, and then immediately followed that up by scoring the pole position for the second race.
Stoneman earned the win with some spectacular driving in the rain, in the first wet race in the modern F2 series' short history. Starting from fifth, the young Briton performed a perfect start from the soaked grid, applying just enough power to avoid wheelspin but to slip past the front two rows of the grid.
"I don't know what I did at the start but it was a bit special," he recalled. "Off the start I just managed to get no wheelspin, the car was just perfect off the line. Then going down to the first corner I only used one boost."
Kazim Vasiliauskas also made his way around the slow-starting polesitter, Sergey Afanasiev, and claimed second place into the first corner.
Nicola de Marco, starting from third, stalled on the grid but in spite of the poor visibility everyone was able to avoid his stricken car.
Stoneman quickly pulled away from his pursuers, setting stonking lap times in the wet while Vasiliauskas had to concentratr on defending against Afanasiev. By the midway point, the gap was a massive 15 seconds, and Stoneman satisfied himself maintaining that until the chequered flag fell.
"I could see I was pulling away from second place, just edging away lap after lap, and I knew if I was consistent I could pull away," Stoneman explained. "I didn't use any boost throughout the whole race, just kept it nice and smooth, changing different lines and trying different things throughout the race."
Stoneman's championship rival, Jolyon Palmer, fell two spots back at the start, down to tenth, but pushed hard and fought his way to the front. Fifth by the third lap, he moved to fourth with Jack Clarke's retirement, and then rapidly passed Afanasiev to take third.
Vasiliauskas, though, was a different matter and the Lithuanian held off Palmer's advances until the two crossed the finish line on the final lap, separated by only 0.673 seconds.
"I think after six or seven laps (my car) went off, and after that for ten laps I was driving one second slower - it was just me, I was braking really bad and I was blocking tyres," Vasiliauskas recounted. "Then Jolyon caught me, and I was just trying to defend to keep my second position, to take no risks so I'm glad to finish second."
Afanasiev took fourth, followed by Benjamin Bailly and Will Bratt. Philipp Eng and Kelvin Snoeks took seventh and eighth.
The qualifying session, too, started wet, but as the rain had stopped, a dry line gradually developed toward the end of the session. With ten minutes left in the session, there was a frantic flurry of activity as everyone came in to switch to slick tires.
With the lap times tumbling, it was all a question of timing, and Stoneman handled that perfectly, setting a time of 1:22.314 with just a minute left in the qualifying session.
He tried to better that one yet, but went off in Turn Four, spinning into the gravel and having to finish the session beached there.
"The thing with a drying track, it's how hard you push and you have to take the limits and find that out on the track," said Stoneman. "You can't afford to make one mistake, maybe a couple of inches either side, but when you do hit the wet patches that's it, you're gone. I touched a puddle and it just spat me off the track. But it's looking good for the championship now, the further back Jolyon is the better for me."
De Marco came the closest to Stoneman's time with a 1:22.370, just 0.056 seconds off the pace, but it was Stoneman's pole to keep, even if he had to start his celebrations in the gravel trap.
Vasiliauskas was the only other driver to get within four tenths of Stoneman's time, as his best effort was 0.081 seconds behind the pole time, and less than three tenths away from de Marco's second spot.
Afanasiev, Bailly and Bratt took the next three positions, while Jolyon Palmer's title challenge took a big knock as the Briton as unable to do better than 14th in the session.
He had been at the sharp end of the grid with a few minutes remaining, but when Plamen Kralev spun off and brought out a local yellow flag, he was unable to improve and fell through the field to his seventh-row starting position.
With his first-race victory Stoneman is now six points ahead of Palmer in the title fight, 242 to 236, and in a strong position to grow that lead in tomorrow's second race.