F2: Hegewald unstoppable during Spa weekend

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSunday, June 28th, 2009

 
 

Pole to flag is one thing – but young German driver Tobias Hegewald managed to dominate no less than six sessions at this weekend’s Formula Two event at Spa-Francorchamps.

The 19-year-old led throughout two practice sessions, two qualifying sessions and two races to earn himself fourth place in the standings and a shot at challenging for the series title.

Formula Two was also playing host this weekend to iconic F1 car designer and current Red Bull technical director Adrian Newey, who said he was impressed with “a great series”.

He said: “The key thing is that drivers are able to work with engineers and give good feedback; if they’re going to become F1 drivers then understanding what the car does and how to describe that to your race engineer is absolutely key. From what I saw, Formula Two is a great way to develop young drivers.” Read the full story here.

Here’s how the weekend played out:

Race one qualifying: Hegewald takes maiden pole

Tobias Hegewald carried his superb form in the practice sessions through to first qualifying and used it to earn himself a maiden pole position.

The German set the top time of 2:08.890, shortly after a red-flag period to recover Sebastian Hohenthal’s stranded car from the top of Eau Rouge, beating the second-placed Andy Soucek by just 0.091 seconds. Canadian Robert Wickens was in third with both drivers setting their time in the final half of the session.

Julien Jousse held provisional pole prior to the red flag, but failed to improve in the latter stages of the session, having to settle for fourth.

Kazim Vasiliauskas took fifth with Henry Surtees the highest-placed Brit in sixth. Milos Pavlovic and Alex Brundle rounded out the top eight ahead of Jolyon Palmer, who enjoyed his best qualifying performance of the season in ninth. Philipp Eng completed the top ten.

Race two qualifying: Hegewald makes it a clean sweep

Hegewald took a second stylish pole in race two qualifying with a time of 2:08.233 – the fastest lap of the weekend. This time around, however, Wickens and Soucek swapped places, taking second and third respectively.

In fourth place on a track showing early signs of dampness was Brundle, well-pleased with his grid position, while Jousse was fifth. Milos Pavlovic enjoyed his best ever F2 qualifying by taking sixth while the Red Bull duo Mikhail Aleshin and championship leader Mirko Bortolotti were seventh and eighth.

Most drivers waited to the second half of the session to don fresh tyres and pull the stops out, with Hegewald topping the timesheet in the final ten minutes.

The session was red-flagged after six minutes when Armaan Ebrahim went off at Eau Rouge and was collected by Surtees. There was a five-minute delay before the session was restarted.

Race one: Hegewald capitalises on pole for maiden win

Hegewald carried his momentum from practice and qualifying into the Round Five race and secured a commanding maiden win ahead of Andy Soucek and Miloš Pavlović.

The race got off to a dramatic start when Robert Wickens failed to get away from the line, causing most of the chasing pack to dodge him, with the exception of Jason Moore. The Brit collected him at speed, covered the track in debris and brought out the safety car for two laps.

At the restart, Soucek tried to pass Hegewald but ended up running off the circuit at Les Combes. He held onto his second place, but delayed Julien Jousse who lost his third place as a result. Pavlović managed to overtake him and the two went on to enjoy a race-long battle for position.

A fight for sixth place caused the retirements of Philipp Eng and Alex Brundle as well as leaving Jolyon Palmer with wing damage that wrecked his race.

At the chequered flag, Hegewald had increased his lead to four seconds to take his first victory of the season. Soucek took a comfortable second, apologising to Jousse, but that wasn’t enough to save him from a post-race ten-second penalty that dropped him to fourth, reinstating the Frenchman to third behind MiloÅ¡ Pavlović.

Behind Jousse were Jack Clarke and Tom Gladdis enjoying their top six finishes. Henri Karjalainen and Edoardo Piscopo raced hard to seventh and eighth while Mirko Bortolotti and Kazim Vasiliauskas rounded out the top ten – narrowly missing out on championship points.

Following the race Soucek would have led the championship standings if it had not been for his penalty. It remained to be seen whether he could do enough to recapture it in the sixth round.

Race two: Hegewald makes it a double

It merely remained to be seen if Hegewald could continue his weekend shut-out – and of course he could, mapping out a superb lights-to-flag performance that left him in fourth place in the season standings.

The German driver got a good start and went on to extend his lead by around half a second per lap, eventually winning the race by more than seven seconds. Andy Soucek took second place ahead of Robert Wickens.

Hegewald said, post-race: “It has been an amazing weekend – I was fastest in every session and I came away with maximum points – I’m very, very happy. The race was not easy at the start because my car felt nervous, but I took the win and now I can allow myself to focus on fighting for the championship.”

Wickens’ car had to be repaired overnight following heavy damage from his start-line shunt in Race One. However, he was able to battle past Alex Brundle at Eau Rouge on the first lap and went on to pressure Soucek for second.

Miloš Pavlović took fourth after passing Alex Brundle on lap 11. Julien Jousse also attacked Brundle in the closing stages, but was unable to make a move stick. Kazim Vasiliauskas took seventh, Mikhail Aleshin eighth for the final point ahead of Red Bull colleague Mirko Bortolotti. Carlos Iaconelli rounded out the top ten.

Jolyon Palmer and Jack Clarke retired on the first lap after an ambitious move by Clarke resulted in a collision. Henry Surtees was hit by Germán Sánchez at the entry to Eau Rouge on lap 3, leading to a joint retirement.

Standings

Following rounds five and six the points table is as follows:

  1. Andy Soucek: 28 points
  2. Robert Wickens: 26 points
  3. Julien Jousse: 25 points
  4. Tobias Hegewald: 22 points
  5. Mirko Bortolotti: 21 points
  6. Mikhail Aleshin: 17 points
  7. Miloš Pavlović: 17 points
  8. Philipp Eng: 12 points
  9. Nicola De Marco: 10 points
  10. Edoardo Piscopo: 10 points
  11. Carlos Iaconelli: 9 points
  12. Kazim Vasiliauskas: 9 points
  13. Henri Karjalainen: 7 points
  14. Armaan Ebrahim: 6 points
  15. Alex Brundle: 5 points
  16. Tom Gladdis: 4 points
  17. Jack Clarke: 4 points
  18. Henry Surtees: 2 points

Get all the series’ news, stats and standings on its website here >>

The next two events in the Formula Two championship are both in Britain, hosted by Brands Hatch at the end of July and Donington Park in August.

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