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Ferrari protégé seals Formula Two title with races to spare.
Mirko Bortolotti, the amiable Austro-Italian who is a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy scheme, delighted his adoring fans by wrapping up the 2011 FIA Formula Two championship with a convincing win in Race 2 at the legendary AutodromoNationale in Monza, Italy, on October 2nd.
The 21 year old Bortolotti’s reward for a season which he has dominated with five wins to date – the two final races in Barcelona are still to come - is a full official Williams Formula 1 test drive at Abu Dhabi in November.
Switzerland’s Christopher Zanella kept himself firmly at the head of the chase for the championship runner-up spot which includes the Spanish duo of Ramon Piñeiro and Miki Monras,and Romanian Mihai Marinescuwho scored his maiden Formula Two victory with an impressive win in Race 1 at Monza. The drivers finishing 2nd and 3rd in the championship at the end of the season are rewarded with official GP2 test drives.
Monza Race 1
Once again, the starting grid reflected the closeness of competition in Formula Two, with the top six rows of the grid covered by less than a second. Coming to the circuit he calls ‘my second home’ on the back of two podium finishes at Austria’s Red Bull Ring, Marinescu claimed pole position ahead of Britain’s Alex Brundle, with Piñeiro and Bortolotti making up the second row, and Zanella and Germany’s Tobias Hegewald on row three. Mikkel Mac from Denmark and Germany’s ThiemoStorz on row four headed Brit Jack Clark and France’s Benjamin Lariche who rounded out the top ten.
Brundle got the better of Marinescu in the long run down to the first chicane and take the lead which he held for the first lap, only to be overtaken by the Romanian into the same corner at the start of lap 2. That was effectively the last anyone saw of Marinescu, who threw in the race’s fastest lap on lap 7 and steadily built a comfortable margin over the rest of the field to take the chequered flag for his maiden F2 victory by over 5 seconds.
Monza Race 2
After just seven laps in qualifying, Bortolotti firmly nailed pole position for Race 2 with a stunning lap over a second faster than Marinescu’s pole time for Race 1. The next six drivers – Piñeiro, Hegewald, Monras, Storz, Mac and Brundle – all also tapped in to extra pace to beat the Race 1 pole time and be within eight tenths of Bortolotti’s flyer. The ever-improving Bacheta, Laricheand Clarke filled out the remaining top ten slots on the grid.
Mechanical glitches are so infrequent in Formula Two as to be exceptionally noteworthy, and it was Marinescu’s misfortune to be one of the rare victims. It left him to join the race on lap seven with no hope of adding to his maximum points haul in Race 1, despite having the small consolation of posting the fastest lap of the race.
By half distance, Brundle had displaced Bacheta in fourth, with Clarke, Snoeks, Zanella, Snegirev and a recovering Hegawald making up the ten points runners. From this point on, Zanella - from eleventh on the grid - was the big mover, passing both Snoeks and Clarke to claim sixth place at the flag after Snegirev had dropped out with an undiagnosed fault. Hegewald thus moved up to ninth with Lariche close behind in tenth place at the finish.
Bortolotti’s winning margin was almost nine seconds, a fitting token of his dominance this season and a harbinger, no doubt, of even greater things to come from the talented and likeable Italian.
"I don't have words to explain it now, I think I have to realise it. I'm just so happy”, he said as he reflected on his achievement."For me it was just amazing. It was the aim to win the championship. Before the season you say many things and then you have to prove it on the track, that's the main thing in racing so finally we did it and I cannot say how I feel, I'm so happy.”
FIA Super Licences and GP2 test drives are still to be fought for by the championship’s second and third place finishers. Zanella and Piñeiro are the pretty hot favourites to claim them, but Monras and Marinescu are still both in with an outside chance. Expect some serious competition between this quartet in Barcelona at the end of October.
Comma has been Technical Partner to FIA Formula Two, and the exclusive supplier of engine oils, coolants and maintenance chemicals to the championship since it was launched in 2009. All 24 of the identical 500bhp Williams F1 designed Formula Two race cars are lubricated, cooled and serviced with maintenance products supplied by Comma.
You can read detailed race reports, view the complete championship standings and keep up with all the other latest FIA Formula Two news at the excellent official Formula Two website.
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