15-year-old Swiss enters record books with maiden victory
Fifteen-year-old Mathéo Tuscher became the youngest ever winner of a Formula Two race with a dominating lights-to-flag victory during today’s (Saturday) sun-soaked opening race at Paul Ricard.
Adding to his previous five podiums, the Swiss racer stormed away from pole and never looked back to claim his maiden F2 victory on adopted home soil. Luciano Bacheta claimed second to maintain his championship lead finishing ahead of fellow Brit Daniel McKenzie who recovered after getting bogged down at the start. Dino Zamparelli picked up fourth to complete a trio of Brits with German Markus Pommer rounding out the top five in the thrilling 19-lap race.
In warm but windy conditions, Tuscher got a lightning start to lead from Bacheta after the 22-year-old got the jump on a slow starting McKenzie and Pommer from his fourth place grid slot. Zamparelli also got away well to move into fourth with Mihai Marinescu gaining two positions in sixth. Further back, a spin by Plamen Kralev, who tried to get the cutback on Kevin Mirocha, collected Alex Fontana bringing out the safety car and dropping the pair to the back of the grid.
Tuscher got away cleanly as the safety car pulled in but Bacheta was right behind him having a look down the inside of Turn 1 but to no avail. Unsettled, the teenager continued to push as he tried to pull clear of the Boost Zones with his lead just under a second.
McKenzie then made a move on Zamparelli, boosting into Turn 1 to move into fourth and dropping his compatriot into the clutches of Marinescu. Meanwhile, Bacheta was now starting to drop back with Pommer, McKenzie and Zamparelli queuing up behind him.
At the halfway stage, an over zealous Christopher Zanella cut short the chicane after trying unsuccessfully to pass Marinescu, handing him a drive-through penalty. The Swiss racer did eventually recover to finish eighth after taking both Axcil Jefferies and Hector Hurst on the final lap.
Up at the front, McKenzie had got the better of Pommer to retake his podium spot and now hot on the heels of Bacheta. Pommer then lost another place as Zamparelli went past him at Turn 1 with the Brit also trying his luck again with McKenzie.
In the closing stages, Bacheta was coming under strong pressure from both McKenzie and Zamparelli, even going straight on at the chicane, but just managed to hold onto the place. Meanwhile, Mirocha finished just outside the top five ahead of Marinescu with Hurst and Jefferies completing the top 10.
Speaking afterwards Tuscher said: "It was an amazing race. I just kept saying ‚look after the tyres‘ in my head! Luciano was close to me and sometimes he would get closer and then others I would make a small gap. I was a bit stressed when I saw him in second position as I know he can push at the end of races but it looked like he pushed a bit too much at the end!"
Tomorrow’s second qualifying session gets underway at 09:40 (local time) with full coverage on the F2 website. www.formulatwo.com
F2 Results: Paul Ricard – Race 1:
1. Mathéo Tuscher, 19 laps
2. Luciano Bacheta, +1.192s
3. Daniel McKenzie, +1.628s
4. Dino Zamparelli, +2.056s
5. Markus Pommer, +6.329s
6. Kevin Mirocha, +7.298s
7. Mihai Marinescu, +17.744s
8. Christopher Zanella, +28.336s
9. Hector Hurst, +28.440s
10. Axcil Jefferies, +28.990s
11. Mauro Calamia, +32.635s
12. Plamen Kralev, +37.943s
13. David Zhu, +49.391s
14. Alex Fontana, +56.903s