Spaniard tops close qualifying session at Brands Hatch
Andy Soucek took pole position for race two this morning at Brands Hatch, after another thoroughly entertaining qualifying session.
Robert Wickens and Sebastian Hohenthal traded quickest times in the early stages, whilst Soucek was some way down the order. Tom Gladdis also impressed in the opening laps, holding third briefly.
At the halfway point of the 30 minute session, the majority of drivers changed on to new Avon tyres and the times immediately tumbled. Julien Jousse was the first driver to dip under the 1:18s barrier, as Jolyon Palmer also improved to move into third behind Wickens.
Provisional pole then changed three times in less than a minute as Edoardo Piscopo, Henry Surtees and Philipp Eng all took turns in setting the ultimate pace. Formula Palmer Audi champion Jason Moore moved up to second, as a flurry of drivers were in the midst of setting fastest times. Unfortunately a spin for Jolyon Palmer at Westfield prevented many drivers from completing their lap as a brief red flag period halted proceedings. Palmer was able to return to the pits without damage, but his tyres were compromised and he was unable to improve his time for the remainder of the session.
Qualifying was restarted with ten minutes remaining and Robert Wickens quickly returned to the top, until Andy Soucek improved even further to take pole by just 0.028s.
Wickens held on to take second and Sebastian Hohenthal was third, but the Swede was black flagged late in the session for not respecting the track limits at Paddock Hill Bend, as he was in yesterday’s first qualifying session. Further action is anticipated from the stewards later today.
Philipp Eng was fourth, ahead of Red Bull-backed duo Mirko Bortolotti and Mikhail Aleshin. Carlos Iaconelli and Henry Surtees complete row four, whilst Natacha Gachnang put in a stunning performance with ninth – her best qualifying result of the season so far. Tobias Hegewald, who won both races at Spa-Francorchamps, set a late lap to round out the top ten.
Edoardo Piscopo and Jason Moore were 11th and 12th respectively, with Moore enjoying his best qualifying run in F2. Jens Höing endured a minor spin, whilst Alex Brundle ended his session in the gravel at Sheene Curve before he had even set a representative lap time – he will start tomorrow’s race from the back of the grid.
Incredibly, one second covered the top 19 drivers.
Andy Soucek said: "Everything went very well, it’s looking good – it is my first pole in F2 and I am really happy. It’s the first time I’ve driven here and it was a fantastic experience. I thought Spa-Francorchamps was good but Brands Hatch is even better!"
Robert Wickens said: "I am just happy to be on the front row for tomorrow’s race," said Wickens. "The main thing is consistency – there’s no question that the pace is there because it’s been there the whole year."
Sebastian Hohenthal said: "I didn’t gain much time – perhaps nothing, but still they are hard on this as we saw yesterday. Maybe I can get some points, but it is going to be tough."
FIA Formula Two Championshp Qualifying Two – Brands Hatch, UK:
1. Andy Soucek, 1:16.947s
2. Robert Wickens, +0.028s
3. Sebastian Hohenthal, +0.161s
4. Philipp Eng, +0.260s
5. Mirko Bortolitti, +0.352s
6. Mikhail Aleshin, +0.451s
7. Carlos Iaconelli, +0.476s
8. Henry Surtees, +0.516s
9. Natacha Gachnang, +0.529s
10. Tobias Hegewald, +0.534s
Race one takes place at 14.05 today (Saturday) and race two is at 12.45 tomorrow (Sunday).