Photo: Formula Two
British racer Luciano Bacheta racks up a fine double victory on home soil at the Formula Two season opener at Silverstone. Also, there’s the latest from Auto GP and British F3…
Despite the results, the opening round of the Formula Two season suggested that the campaign could be wide open. In first qualifying on Saturday morning it was debutant Matheo Tuscher who took a stunning pole position, aged just 15 and in his first race out of Formula Pilota China.
An opening lap error saw him drop down the order though, and it was fellow Swiss driver Christopher Zanella who took up the lead. A poor start from Bacheta saw him fall from the front row to fourth at the start, but he fought his way through to pass Zanella for the lead at the end of the penultimate lap and record his first win in the series. Behind Zanella, it was another Swiss driver Alex Fontana who completed the podium, having passed Mihai Marinescu just before the line. Daniel McKenzie and Tuscher completed the top six.
It was Marinescu who led for much of Sunday’s race after taking pole in qualifying, but once again Bacheta striked on the penultimate lap to complete a double win. European F3 Open champion Fontana was again on the podium behind Marinescu, with McKenzie, Tuscher and Dino Zamparelli behind.
Bacheta holds a 20 point advantage in the standings over Marinescu and Fontana. The second race weekend takes place at Portimao in less than two weeks.
There was another teenager on pole in Auto GP, with Sergey Sirotkin the quickest man in qualifying around the streets of Marrakech. The Russian managed to miss the lights going out though, handing the lead to Pal Varhaug ahead of Sergio Campana and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs.
Varhaug stalled after his pitstop however, dropping him to third and setting up a battle for the win between Campana and Quaife-Hobbs. The latter made several attempts at getting past in the closing few laps but reigning Italian F3 champion Campana held on for his first Auto GP win.
Sirotkin took the lead at the start of race two from third on the grid, but second-placed Chris van der Drift stayed out longer before stopping, allowing the Kiwi to rejoin in the lead and win the race. Varhaug crossed the line third, but was later penalised for cutting a chicane, handing third to Giacomo Ricci.
Quaife-Hobbs was fourth, giving him a 39 point lead over Sirotkin in the standings, with Varhaug just one further point behind. Round four of the season takes place at the Hungaroring at the start of May.
British F3 moved on to Monza in Italy for the second race weekend of the season. Carlos Sainz Jr set the pace in qualifying, but Felix Serralles started the first race from pole courtesy of a better second-fastest laptime. However, rain just before the start led to all the cars coming into the pits for wet tyres at the end of the warmup lap. Sainz emerged from the pits first and went on to record his first win in the series, ahead of Pipo Derani and Jazeman Jaafar.
A slow change for Serralles meant he only finished tenth, but he did get to start the reverse grid second race from pole. This time he managed to convert pole into victory, his second of the season. Jack Harvey was second, with Pietro Fantin in third place.
Sainz’s turn to start from pole came in race three, and the Red Bull Junior put in a dominant performance in another rain-hit race to finish 17 seconds clear of anyone else. Serralles crossed the line second, with Formula Renaut UK champion Alex Lynn in third place.
Sainz’s two wins put him into the championship lead, eight points ahead of Serralles and nine ahead of Jaafar. A difficult weekend for Harvey relegates him from first to fourth. Round three will consist of the Pau Grand Prix in France on 12-13 May.
PaddockScout Driver of the Weekend: Luciano Bacheta – A brilliant couple of race performances from the Brit, to mark himself out as the man to beat in F2 this season.