Wickens doubles up in F2 season opener
Robert Wickens took a lights to flag victory in the second race of the FIA Formula Two Championship this afternoon (Sunday) at Valencia, Spain.
Italian Mirko Bortolotti finished in second, with Philipp Eng completing the podium placings. The trio received their trophies from Patrick Head, Director of Engineering at the AT&T Williams F1 Team.
Wickens got a clean start from pole, but soon came under pressure from Red Bull teammate Mirko Bortolotti. Andy Soucek made a poor start from second on the grid, and was passed off the line by Bortolotti, Philipp Eng and Nicola De Marco. Soucek was back up to fourth by the end of the opening lap after making a good move past De Marco.
Bortolotti tried everything to force Wickens into a mistake, but by the middle phase of the 17 lap encounter, both drivers settled into their respective positions. Behind the Red Bull pairing, Soucek was putting Eng under intense pressure for third. The 19-year-old Austrian held strong to take his maiden podium in F2, whilst Soucek had to settle for fourth. De Marco stayed in close contention throughout and crossed the line in an impressive fifth place, having seen off the attentions of Mikhail Aleshin - the Russian completing a top six result for all three Red Bull Junior drivers.
Edoardo Piscopo drove to a fairly lonely but consistent seventh place and Carlos Iaconelli rounded out the points finishers, after making a stellar move past Julien Jousse around the outside at Turn One. Tobias Hegewald repeated the trick on the Frenchman a lap later and finished ninth, whilst Jousse hung on to take tenth.
There was disappointment for female racer Natacha Gachnang who tangled with Alex Brundle on the opening lap - Gachnang retired on the spot, whilst Brundle pitted for repairs. Jolyon Palmer was tapped into the gravel and out of the race on lap one and yesterday's surprise package Kazim Vasiliauskas went off after making contact with Jousse in a battle for eighth place. The Lithuanian returned to the circuit at the back of the field, but was able to take the fastest lap of the race.
Robert Wickens said: "This is the best weekend of my career so far; it's pretty much been perfect. From start to finish it has been good; we struggled a little in free practice but we didn't lose our cool and everything fell into place nicely - it's basically been a fairytale. It was a good race, Mirko pushed me a lot at the beginning but it was just fantastic. I can't believe the weekend and the year have started so well."