Mixed weather conditions for Formula Two field at Silverstone
Henry Surtees set the quickest lap time in the final pre-season test for the FIA Formula Two Championship in mixed weather conditions at Silverstone today (Monday).
The 18-year-old’s flying lap of 1:38.920s was set as the grouped sessions came to a close early in the afternoon, shortly before heavy rain brought an end to anyone’s hopes of going faster for the remainder of the day.
Red Bull junior driver Mikhail Aleshin held top spot for much of the late morning, but was pushed down to second following Surtees‘ lap. Julien Jousse also grew in confidence with the car as the day progressed and the Frenchman was satisfied with third fastest overall.
Sebastian Hohenthal had an impressive run to fourth, whilst Rob Wickens, Jolyon Palmer and Andy Soucek were separated by just 0.088s in fifth, sixth and seventh respectively. Jack Clarke maintained eighth position at the session’s end, whilst Philipp Eng and Carlos Iaconelli made a late surge into the top ten.
Times were expected to tumble later in the afternoon as drivers were permitted to use new Avon tyres and the ‚overboost‘ button for the first time. However, the heavy rain in Northamptonshire prevented drivers from finding the ultimate limits in their respective Williams JPH1, but it did provide them with some valuable running in wet conditions.
The F2 cars ran with bespoke rain tyres for the first time and an interesting battle developed as drivers swapped fastest times in the testing conditions. Mirko Bortolotti’s benchmark time of 2:02.974s looked set to be good enough until Andy Soucek and Jason Moore traded blows towards the end of the day. It was Soucek who ultimately set the afternoon’s fastest lap – a 2:02.502s, which was just 0.008s ahead of Formula Palmer Audi champion Moore.
Mirko Bortolotti held on to third, whilst Milos Pavlovic, Julien Jousse and Philipp Eng rounded out the top six.
Henry Surtees said: It was quite an impressive day for us. I knew I was there or thereabouts in terms of pace, but I didnt know how close to the front I could be. I was able to make some positive changes to the car, including quite a big set-up change shortly before my best lap. I could feel that I was on a pretty good lap and it was really pleasing to see that I had gone over a second faster than anyone else. Of course, the hard work starts in Valencia but it is still good for the confidence to finish on top here.
Mikhail Aleshin said: "We were able to find some good time in the car, but really I was not that interested in the times. My focus was on setting up the car and we are learning things not just for Valencia, but for other circuits too."
Julien Jousse was another driver happy with his progress: "I am really starting to get a good feeling in this car. For sure, the wind made things quite difficult today but the grip is still really good and the engine is impressive."
Andy Soucek commented: "The wet afternoon session went very well. You have to be very precise with all your inputs, it is like you have to have traction control in your foot, but it was fun once you finish on top it always is! I am slightly disappointed that I did not try new tyres in the morning session, as I am 100% sure I could have been fastest then as well, but overall this has been a very good test in terms of what I learnt for the race in Valencia. We made some set up changes which all worked, and Im confident now that I can be running at the front in Spain.