Russian edges out Dean Stoneman to top first practice session
Following a four week summer break, the FIA Formula Two Championship returned to the tarmac today at Oschersleben, with Russias Sergey Afanasiev getting his weekend off to a perfect start by topping the timesheets in the first free practice session.
Afanasiev, who finished second at the track last year in International Formula Master, made the most of a progressively drying circuit to clinch the top spot in the final few minutes of the session – denying championship contender Dean Stoneman by little over two hundredths of a second.
Stoneman was forced to settle for second, although the Briton was once again highly impressive as he set about learning the technical Oschersleben circuit for the first time.
Behind the lead duo, Kelvin Snoeks finished third fastest after topping the timesheets at the halfway stage. Like Afanasiev, Snoeks has raced at the circuit before in International Formula Master, and the Dutchman made the most of his previous experience by finishing third quickest.
While Stoneman finished second, his title rival and current championship leader Jolyon Palmer also started the weekend strongly as he topped the timesheets on several occasions before eventually finishing fourth. Just four points separate the pair going into what could be a potentially decisive penultimate round here in Germany.
Behind Palmer, Kazim Vasiliauskas, Jack Clarke and Ricardo Teixeira finished within one tenth of a second of each other in fifth through to seventh. Vasiliauskas and Clarke both ran well at the circuit last year in Formula Two, and the pair looked in good touch again – Kazim in particular impressing by setting the fastest time of any driver in the first sector.
France’s Benjamin Lariche finished eighth fastest, just over three hundredths of a second ahead of Armaan Ebrahim – who arrived in Germany after spending two weeks in Brazil filming India’s ‚Fear Factor‘.
Johannes Theobald, making his F2 debut on home soil this weekend, completed a highly impressive session by rounding out the top ten – fractions ahead of Brno race winner Nicola De Marco and older brother Julian, both of whom finished within nine tenths of Afanasiev’s benchmark time.
Early pace setters Philipp Eng and Benjamin Bailly faded a little toward the end, ending the session in 15th and 16th respectively.