Capacity field for F2 at Silverstone this weekend
A capacity field of rising stars from across the world will chase a prize test drive with the Williams F1 team starting this weekend at Silverstone (16/17 April), when the British circuit hosts the opening rounds of the 2011 FIA Formula Two Championship.
Now entering its third season, Formula Two will feature a full grid of 24 drivers from 14 different nations and they will start their title charge on the Silverstone Arena F1 circuit - competing in identical specification Williams JPH1B cars. A coveted prize test drive with the Williams F1 squad is on offer to the 2011 champion, with GP2 test drives offered to the second and third-placed finishers. All three will also qualify for an FIA Superlicense, enabling them to compete in Formula One.
F2 Series Director Jonathan Palmer said: “The fact that F2 has completely filled in such difficult times is a tribute to the FIA’s foresight in launching F2 in 2009, since when the world economy has toughened substantially and is likely to remain so for some time. As fewer are able to find the big budgets required to buy a top drive in other series, there will inevitably be an increase in the competiveness of the far more affordable and equal F2. The 2011 F2 title will be fiercely contested, with some outstanding ability within the field of 24 drivers from 14 different countries and I’ve no doubt the winner will have the talent to justify F1.”
Among the championship favorites, and hoping to follow his father’s footsteps into Formula One, is Alex Brundle, son of former F1 driver and BBC commentator Martin. Alex returns to Formula Two after a season in British F3, and the 20-year-old begins his second campaign full of confidence after setting the pace in a pre-season test at Silverstone last month.
Brundle will be joined on the grid by Silverstone local Will Bratt, who finished fifth in F2 last season and returns for his second campaign. A further trio of British drivers will also be hoping for a home circuit advantage this weekend, as Jack Clarke, who narrowly missed out on a podium at Silverstone last year, Tom Gladdis and championship debutant James Cole will all be targeting a strong start to their F2 campaigns.
The home drivers will face strong opposition from a talented field of internationally established young racers, including Italian Mirko Bortolotti, who has already tested in F1 for Ferrari and Toro Rosso and returns to F2 following a season in GP3. Also competing in that championship in 2010 was podium finisher Miki Monras from Spain, who joins F2 after impressing in pre-season testing, setting the pace in the final sessions at Snetterton last month. His fellow countryman Ram¢n Pineiro should also be at the sharp end of the timesheets this weekend, following a points finish on his debut outing in the final round of the F2 season at Valencia in 2010.
Also returning to F2 action are Mihai Marinescu of Romania, the ever-improving Armaan Ebrahim from India and Germany’s Tobias Hegewald, who was a double race winner in F2 in 2009. Poland’s Natalia Kowalska, Bulgarian Plamen Kralev, Frenchman Benjamin Lariche, Indian Parthiva Sureshwaren and Dutchman Kelvin Snoeks are back again in the F2 fold this season, as are German brothers Julian and Johannes Theobald.
Russian Max Snegirev steps up from Formula Three, as does Spain’s Jose Luis Abadin and Switzerland’s Christopher Zanella. Korean Sung-Hak Mun and German Thiemo Storz graduate from Formula Renault and Formula Palmer Audi respectively, whilst Mikkel Mac from Denmark is the youngest driver in the field at 18-years-old.
Silverstone will host qualifying one and race one on Saturday at 10.10am and 2.00pm respectively, with qualifying two taking place at 9.30am and race two at 2.40pm on Sunday. Both races will be broadcast live across Europe on Motors TV and simultaneously on the official F2 website www.formulatwo.com