Mirko Bortolotti wins Silverstone season opener

Will Bratt second at home circuit as F2 debutant Miki Monras completes podium

1. Mirko Bortolotti celebrates on the podium after sealing a lights-to-flag victory in race one

Italy’s Mirko Bortolotti converted his maiden pole position into a commanding victory in the opening round of the 2011 FIA Formula Two Championship at Silverstone today (Saturday).

Bortolotti made a perfect start, as fellow front row qualifier Spain’s Miki Monras lost a position to Briton Will Bratt after getting bogged down off the line. By the end of the opening lap, Mirko had built a commanding lead of more than a second over the pair, who tussled for position in the early stages of the race.

As Bortolotti put in a series of fastest laps at the front of the field, a locked wheel from Monras allowed Bratt to build a small breathing space in his bid to maintain second position.

The British driver – who lives just a stone’s throw from the circuit in Banbury – cemented his podium place by posting a flying lap in the closing stages of the race, but not before Bortolotti demonstrated his supreme pace by setting the fastest lap of the race on his penultimate tour of the Silverstone Arena circuit.

Mirko Bortolotti said: “It wasn’t easy! First of all I made a good start, and the first lap was actually very good. I managed to get a gap between me and second, and after that I think they were starting to get busy behind me and that was my chance to get away a bit, and that’s what I did. Afterwards I had five seconds advantage I think, so I just tried to look after my tyres.I’m very happy with the result, which is very good for us – the first race weekend and now a pole position and a race win.”

Monras steered his Williams JPH1B Formula Two car to an impressive third position on his championship debut, whilst Romania’s Mihai Marinescu equalled his best ever F2 result in fourth place.

Spain’s Ramon Piñeiro fought his way to fifth position, ahead of Germany’s Tobias Hegewald, who returns to F2 in 2010 following a season in GP3. Hegewald shadowed Piñeiro for much of the contest, but was not quite able to find a way past the composed Spaniard.

F2 rookie Christopher Zanella impressed on his first Formula Two race outing to secure seventh overall, having passed Britons Jack Clarke and Alex Brundle during the race. Clarke finished eighth after struggling with pace in the latter stages of the race, while Brundle’s suffered an unfortunate end to what had been an impressive return performance as a puncture on lap 16 forced him to retire.

Russia’s Max Snegirev took advantage of a wheel-to-wheel battle between Johannes Theobald and Tom Gladdis to carve his way through from 13th in qualifying to ninth at the finish. Snegirev dived down the inside of the duelling pair, who went side by side on several occasions until Gladdis finally shook off his German rival. Theobald then went on to battle with Dutchman Kelvin Snoeks until contact between the pair caused his retirement.

A frantic final few laps saw contact between Korean F2 debutant Sun-Hak Mun and Bulgaria’s Plamen Kralev – causing the latter to retire.

1. Mirko Bortolotti, 21 laps
2. Will Bratt, +5.337s
3. Miki Monras, +6.929s
4. Mihai Marinescu, +19.381s
5. Ramon Piñeiro, +26.243s
6. Tobias Hegewald, +27.072s
7. Christopher Zanella, +28.901s
8. Jack Clarke, +40.496s
9. Maxim Snegirev, +45.852s
10. Tom Gladdis, +53.612s

Television coverage of the FIA Formula Two Championship race two will be screened on Motors TV on Sunday at 2.30pm (UK time). Television coverage and live timing is also available at www.formulatwo.com

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