Mikhail Aleshin scored his maiden victory in Formula Two in the second race at Oschersleben today (Sunday), although he had to fend off the attentions of Andy Soucek and Julien Jousse for the entire race.
The Russian made a decent start from pole but he had Jousse challenging his lead into the first corner. Jousse made a failed attempt down the inside and then lost momentum through turn two, which allowed Andy Soucek to sneak through into second.
Mirko Bortolotti failed to get away cleanly from fourth on the grid, the Italian dropping down the order as a result. Robert Wickens inherited fourth but was unable to challenge the lead trio, instead having to protect his position from a charging Nicola De Marco.
The opening lap drama didn't happen at the expected first corner, but it arrived at the exit of turn nine when Philipp Eng barrel rolled his car at high speed after contact with another driver. The Austrian was completely uninjured during the spectacular looking accident.
The lead trio of Aleshin, Soucek and Jousse proceeded to open a small gap over Wickens in fourth. Soucek was able to put Aleshin under heavy pressure throughout, but he also had his mirrors full of Jousse behind. The Spaniard had a few exploratory looks down the inside of Aleshin, but he was unable to make any real attempt to pass. He also made a small mistake when running wide on the penultimate lap, and subsequently settled for second. When the checkered flag fell, the top three drivers were separated by just over one second.
Wickens hung on to fourth, ahead of De Marco and Tobias Hegewald. Kazim Vasiliauskas took seventh, whilst Edoardo Piscopo made a great charge from 14th on the grid to clinch the final point. Sebastian Hohenthal and Carlos Iaconelli both jumped Alex Brundle late on to round out the top ten.
Aleshin's first F2 win promotes him to second in the championship standings, having jumped his Red Bull Junior team mates Wickens and Bortolotti. "It's incredible," said Aleshin. "It was one of the most difficult races in my life I would say. I had a problem with the gearbox and couldn't shift down properly – I was losing a lot of time, especially in the first corner. Well I was pushing and I didn't make any mistakes, and that's why I'm sitting here in the middle! I want to say thanks to my mechanic and engineer for all their help."
Soucek now holds a 32 point advantage with only 40 available points remaining at Imola and Barcelona: "That was not the best start I have done," said the Spaniard. "I saw the two guys fighting in front of me so I broke a bit earlier and I used the opportunity on the second corner where they were parallel fighting together. Julien was quite fair to me and didn't close, otherwise we would have probably crashed. It was a bit of a risk for the championship, but it went well. It was kind of impossible to overtake though, so I thought about the championship and I think eight points are very important now."
Jousse completed the podium, but the Frenchman is not hopeful of challenging for the championship: "For me the championship is finished for sure, but I will fight the maximum for second position," he said. Soucek can clinch the title with race victory in the opening contest at Imola in two weeks time.
Top-10 Race 2 – Oschersleben – Provisional Classification:
1. Mikhail Aleshin, 18 laps
2. Andy Soucek, +0.479s
3. Julien Jousse, +1.061s
4. Robert Wickens, +2.914s
5. Nicola De Marco, +3.642s
6. Tobias Hegewald, +4.427s
7. Kazim Vasiliauskas, +5.381s
8. Edoardo Piscopo, +13.290s
9. Sebastian Hohenthal, +15.193s
10. Carlos Iaconelli, +17.116s