For the second time in Formula Two’s comeback year the blue and yellow number seven car of Henry Surtees sat on pole position before a race – but this time it was there not to compete, but as a tribute to its late driver.
Surtees, the 18-year-old son of former F1 and motorbike world champion John, qualified on pole in Brno for the fourth race of the season and also scored a podium finish in the seventh, at Brands Hatch, but was killed when competing in the next race.
The series reconvened at Donington Park this weekend for the first time since his death, and the remaining 24 drivers joined series staff and management on the grid at 9.30am for a minute’s silence in his memory. With them was his car, rolled out onto pole.
All the remaining cars carried ‘Henry – we miss you’ tributes on their rear endplates and some drivers added messages of their own – series leader Andy Soucek, among them, with ‘Remembering Henry’ written by his cockpit.
He took the slogan to victory in the first race of the day, his third win of the season. Starting third, he grabbed the lead into the first corner and didn’t look back on his way to a 10-second win over Mikhail Aleshin and Tobias Hegewald.
“This was the kind of race you dream about – it was perfect,” said Soucek, while Aleshin added: “I was pretty surprised at the start – I was probably still in first gear and Andy came past me.”
Jack Clarke, who took a break in Hong Kong to recover from the incident in which Surtees died after being hit by one of his wheels, took ninth to record the best finish of a British driver in either race.
In the second race Julien Jousse won comfortably from pole position, building a lead from the start and then another at the end of a safety car period following a lap one crash that took out several backmarkers including Jason Moore and Tom Gladdis. “I’m happy because everything went right in this race,” said Jousse. “I was quick all weekend and I am happy to confirm that with a win.”
Lithuania’s Kazim Vasiliauskas grabbed second from the start and stayed there, while behind him Soucek’s charge for a second podium fell short as Mirko Bortolotti successfully defended third place against intense pressure from the Spaniard.
Clarke was 14th of the 15 finishers, while Jolyon Palmer took 12th and Alex Brundle crashed out. In race one Moore was 11th, Brundle 14th, Palmer 16th and Gladdis last of the 17 finishers.
Soucek’s lead in the championship is now 22 points from Robert Wickens, who has failed to score in five of the eight races since he won the opening double-header in Valencia. Jousse and Hegewald are next. Surtees remains the highest-ranked British driver in 13th, while Brundle, Clarke, Gladdis and Moore are the last of the points-scorers in 17th – 20th places. Palmer is one of a number of drivers yet to get off the mark.