Soucek scores home win
Andy Soucek has taken his first Formula Two victory on home soil after the newly crowned champion put in a commanding drive during race one in Barcelona today (Saturday).
Mikhail Aleshin took second, ahead of a staggering performance from French debutant Tristan Vautier.
Pole-sitter Robert Wickens made a slow getaway, as Soucek blasted by on the run down to turn one. Aleshin had already taken second as Vautier attacked from behind. The 20-year-old jumped from fourth to third off the line before going side-by-side with Aleshin through turns one and two. Aleshin held on as the recovering Wickens began to put pressure on Vautier.
There was drama behind as Nicola De Marco ran across the grass while Jens Höing spun out of the race at turn two. Jolyon Palmer also had a brief moment after being pushed wide but the young Briton was able to continue at the back of the pack.
The race settled down at the head of the field while there was an intense battle going on amongst a number of British drivers. Jason Moore sneaked up the inside of Jack Clarke on lap four only for the pair to make contact on the exit of turn ten. Moore's car briefly had two wheels off the ground but both were able to continue after losing positions to a gaggle of cars behind.
Tom Gladdis nipped by Alex Brundle on the same lap to take 14th, as Robert Wickens began to have problems up ahead. The Canadian's Red Bull-backed car ground to a halt at the exit of turn 11 on lap five. It was a disappointing end to what had looked like a promising race for the talented front-runner.
Palmer was putting in a charge and the 18-year-old made his way by Clarke and Henri Karjalainen during an impressive recovery drive. There was also a good scrap for 11th as De Marco, Ebrahim and Gladdis fought for position. De Marco had already fallen out of the points following his dramatic start and the Italian was struggling to keep Ebrahim behind by the mid-distance stage.
Brundle ran wide, which allowed Sebastian Hohenthal and Palmer to get by but Hohenthal would later ruin his good work by crashing out of the race at the final chicane. Palmer went on to take a well earned 13th after fighting his way up ten places.
With two laps remaining, Soucek had extended his lead by more than four seconds as Aleshin settled for second. Vautier was coming under increasing pressure from his fellow countryman Julien Jousse but the younger of the two drivers was holding on.
Philipp Eng held off Mirko Bortolotti to take fifth, whilst Natacha Gachnang put in her best drive of the season to take seventh - the Swiss female improving upon her ninth place grid position to score her first points finish in Formula Two. Kazim Vasiliauskas took the final championship point, finishing just half a second behind Gachnang.
By the end of the race, Soucek crossed the line 4.389s ahead of Aleshin to take his sixth victory of the season. After intense pressure in the latter stages of the 20-lap race, Vautier held on to take a memorable maiden podium.
“It feels very, very special," said Soucek. "I've never had that feeling. Obviously when you win a race you are always happy and I am happier today than I was at Imola when I clinched the championship. I'm negotiating a seat next year in Formula 1, and I think everybody [in F1] is looking carefully at what I'm doing so I really had to perform well."
Tristan Vautier said: “This is my best ever result. I have taken wins in Formula Renault Eurocup and FPA but this is an FIA Championship and it is my first time in the car so for sure, this is the best result of my career so far.”
FIA Formula Two Championship - Race One - Barcelona:
1. Andy Soucek, 20 laps
2. Mikhail Aleshin, +4.389s
3. Tristan Vautier, +7.645s
4. Julien Jousse, +7.980s
5. Philipp Eng, +13.329s
6. Mirko Bortolotti, +13.825s
7. Natacha Gachnang, +16.977s
8. Kazim Vasiliauskas, +17.476s
9. Tobias Hegewald, +19.251s
10. Miloš Pavlović, +24.503s