Bortolotti takes first pole position of the season at Silverstone
Mirko Bortolotti clinched the first pole position of the 2011 FIA Formula Two Championship in the opening qualifying session at Silverstone today (Saturday).
After joining the session slightly late due to a problem with his seat belt, the Italian driver - who returns to F2 in 2011 following a season in GP3 - quickly rose to the top of the timesheets deposing Briton Will Bratt, who set the pace in the early stages.
The pair briefly traded times until Bortolotti became the first driver to dip below the 1m50s barrier with a quickest lap of 1:50.834s, which ultimately proved unassailable - and the Italian felt sufficiently confident to end his qualifying effort with five minutes of the session still remaining.
Mirko Bortolotti said: "That was a good session for me. We had the right strategy today and just used one set of tires. The car felt pretty good, as it did in testing at Silverstone last month and in free practice yesterday, and we knew we had the potential today. We just needed to make a few further adjustments today, which gave me my first pole in F2."
Behind Bortolotti, Bratt maintained his second place until the closing stages of qualifying, when F2 rookie Spain's Miki Monras made a superb final effort to secure a front row start for this afternoon's first race.
Along with Monras and Bortolotti, Bratt was the third driver to post a time in the 1m50s, which was sufficient to clinch third on the grid. However, the British driver will have local knowledge on his side hailing from nearby Banbury.
Alex Brundle, who switches from British F3 for his second Formula Two campaign, took fourth place after running as high as second during the mid-stages of qualifying. The Norfolk racer was clearly pushing hard in the final stages, making a spectacular slide at one point as he wringed every inch of performance from the Williams JPH1B Formula Two car.
Free practice two pace-setter Mihai Marinescu secured fifth fastest ahead of Germany's Tobias Hegewald, who made steady improvement throughout the session to go sixth quickest.
Ramon Pineiro, who briefly topped the timesheets at the start of qualifying, took seventh, with Briton Jack Clarke in eighth position.
Johannes Theobald qualified ninth, with Swiss rookie Christopher Zanella producing an impressive performance in his debut F2 qualifying session to round out the top ten.
Race one of the FIA Formula Two Championship at Silverstone begins at 1.50pm today (UK time).
1. Mirko Bortolotti, 1:50.834
2. Miki Monras, +0.108s
3. Will Bratt, +0.133s
4. Alex Brundle, +0.181s
5. Mihai Marinescu, +0.383s
6. Tobias Hegewald, +0.438s
7. Ramon Pineiro, +0.482s
8. Jack Clarke, +0.924s
9. Johannes Theobald, +1.117s
10. Christopher Zanella, +1.151s