Lithuanian tops timesheets as weather plays havoc in Valencia
Kazim Vasiliauskas topped the timesheets in a rain-hit FIA Formula Two Championship second practice session in Valencia today (Friday 17 September), the Lithuanian setting a storming early pace to finish almost three quarters of a second clear of the rest of the field.
With the session starting dry, Vasiliauskas made the most of the early running and rose to the top on his first flying lap. Afanasiev briefly demoted him, but he responded with a quicker time to dip into the 1m28s bracket, just as rain started to fall on the 4km Circuit Ricardo Tormo.
That prompted most of the field to come into the pits, only for the rain to abate slightly and confuse the issue as to whether slicks or dry tyres were the best option. The rain did however freeze the times as the track became significantly slower, effectively making the session a five-minute shootout.
With his place at the top therefore secure, Vasiliauskas did not go out again and completed just six laps during the 30 minute free practice.
Championship leader Dean Stoneman finished second after a strong start to the session, with Russia’s Sergey Afanasiev third. Both drivers opted to stay on slicks during the rain, with Stoneman in particular enjoying a long run when the field initially pitted, completing 14 laps overall – the highest tally in the field.
Behind the lead trio, Ivan Samarin and Will Bratt were the only other drivers to finish within one second of Vasiliauskas in fourth and fifth respectively.
Kelvin Snoeks and Nicola De Marco continued their impressive recent form to occupy the next two spots, with Benjamin Bailly finishing less than two tenths of a second further down the road in eighth.
Ricardo Teixeira was ninth, while Ramón Piñeiro was tenth in only his second competitive session in Formula Two.
Championship contender Jolyon Palmer was 19th, the Briton dropping down the order as he was unable to complete a flying lap in the dry. He did however complete six laps on wet tyres, stoking up the tension ahead of tomorrow’s races as he and Stoneman battled out on circuit in the closing stages.
Despite the weather Natalia Kowalska was the only retirement, the Polish racer spinning out on the outside of the final corner. Afanasiev took a trip through the gravel at turn seven, but was able to rejoin without fuss.
FIA Formula Two Championship – Valencia, Spain – Free Practice Two Overall Classification:
1. Kazim Vasiliauskas, 1:28.466s
2. Dean Stoneman, +0.745s
3. Sergey Afanasiev, +0.850s
4. Ivan Samarin, +0.943s
5. Will Bratt, +0.965s
6. Kelvin Snoeks, +1.047s
7. Nicola De Marco, +1.126s
8. Benjamin Bailly, +1.325s
9. Ricardo Teixeira, +1.452s
10. Ramón Piñeiro, +1.514s