Austrian becomes fifth winner in seven races
Austrian Philipp Eng has taken a brilliant maiden F2 win at Brands Hatch this afternoon (Saturday) after enduring race-long pressure from championship leader Andy Soucek.
Eng didn’t make the best of starts off the line, but Soucek was unable to capitalise on the run down to Paddock Hill Bend. Henry Surtees and Kazim Vasiliauskas were side-by-side behind, and it was the Lithuanian who grabbed third on the opening lap.
Notable incidents in the early stages included Alex Brundle running through the gravel at Druids Hairpin on lap two and Jens Höing sliding off at Paddock Hill Bend. Brundle was able to continue, whilst Höing retired after making contact with the barriers.
After ten laps, the top three were separated by less than a second as Surtees fought to stay with the front-runners. Further back, Carlos Iaconelli and Sebastian Hohenthal were fighting for eighth, and Hohenthal made a stellar move down the inside of the Brazilian at Paddock. Unfortunately, Hohenthal’s car began to slow before stopping on the edge of the circuit between Sheene Curve and Stirling’s.
The stewards were left with little option but to deploy the safety car as Hohenthal’s stricken car was retrieved. At the restart, and on cold tyres, Vasiliauskas ran wide into the first corner. Surtees accepted the invitation, as did Robert Wickens and both drivers nipped by the Lithuanian on the run up to Druids.
Iaconelli was still in the thick of the action, this time passing Milo Pavlović around the outside for seventh position. Then Julien Jousse ran wide coming out of Surtees Corner, allowing Iaconelli to steal another place. Things got worse for Jousse – as the Frenchman tried to attack and repass Iaconelli, he out braked himself at Paddock Hill Bend and crashed out of the race.
Back at the front, Eng was still under intense pressure from Soucek, but the Austrian hung on to take the win by just 0.494s. "It is my first victory and it feels great," said Eng. "I was nervous as Andy put me under so much pressure. He was really quick in the back part of the circuit in the fast corners, but I managed to keep my position. The key now is consistency, definitely."
Soucek extended his lead at the top of the overall standings as his rivals faltered behind. "I tried to put Philipp under pressure but he resisted well," said Soucek. "I picked up some points over my main challengers, but it is still not enough. Tomorrow Robert Wickens is starting alongside me and it won’t be easy."
Surtees kept Wickens at bay to claim his maiden podium in F2 – well deserved after the pace he has shown throughout the season. "It’s a bit of a relief really," commented Surtees. "I only had two points before this race even though we’ve had a pole and we’ve set fastest laps in practice. It’s nice to actually finish a race – in the last four I haven’t quite been so lucky."
Vasiliauskas maintained fifth, ahead of the charging Iaconelli. Pavlović and Edoardo Piscopo rounded out the points – the Italian having recovered well from a poor start. Nicola De Marco was just half a second away from a points paying position in ninth, whilst Mikhail Aleshin stormed from the back of the grid to take tenth.
There were great battles throughout the field – Jolyon Palmer and Jack Clarke traded positions before Clarke went off and out of the race at Sheene Curve. Mirko Bortolotti also went out after going off at the same corner, whilst Alex Brundle and Armaan Ebrahim tangled at Clark Curve, both drivers retiring on the spot.
FIA Formula Two Championshp Race One – Brands Hatch, UK:
1. Philipp Eng, 28 laps
2. Andy Soucek, +0.494s
3. Henry Surtees, +1.694s
4. Robert Wickens, +3.000s
5. Kazim Vasiliauskas, +3.271s
6. Carlos Iaconelli, +7.398s
7. Milos Pavlovic, +7.942s
8. Edoardo Piscopo, +8.416s
Race two takes place at 12.45 (UK time) tomorrow. www.formulatwo.com