Newcomers impress on first F2 outing in Barcelona
Miki Monras ended the opening day of official Formula Two testing at Barcelona as the quickest man against an impressive field of 18 new and returning drivers.
The Spaniard, who finished fourth in this year’s F2, made use of fresh tyres and cooler temperatures during the first 55-minute session to set a 1:35.950s which wasn’t bettered throughout the day.
Romanian and F2 race-winner Mihai Marinescu finished second for the day with 2011 F2 runner-up Christopher Zanella third overall.
The test, which was split into four sessions, also saw more than half the field making their F2 debut with newcomers including GP3 driver Vittorio Ghirelli, two-time McLaren Autosport Award finalist Scott Malvern and German Markus Pommer among those to impress.
The day began in dry but cold conditions with Monras setting an impressive benchmark early on and continuing to look quick with his best time also faster than Mirko Bortolotti’s pole lap from the recent rounds here in October.
Throughout the morning the new drivers continued to improve their lap times with Italy’s Ghirelli, who raced in GP3 this year, and Pommer in particular looking strong, together with Edoardo Liberati who finished fifth in Italian F3.
Frenchman Maxime Jousse, younger brother of 2009 F2 racer Julien, also ran well to lap inside the top three in only his second F2 test after running sixth overall this time last year. German Riccardo Brutschin, who’s father Harold raced with F2 Chief Executive Jonathan in the 1980s, also impressed in the morning stint together with Brits Aaron Steele and Scott Malvern both of whom hope to step up to F2 in 2012.
In the afternoon it was Marinescu who led the way from Monras in the third session with Ghirelli once again impressing as did Malvern, Snoeks, Pommer and Zanella – the latter still suffering from an injury to his right arm following a snowmobile accident, similar to that sustained by F1 returnee Kimi Räikkönen. Alex Fontana, one of four Swiss drivers taking part in the test, also impressed with Croatian newcomer Sasha Radola also finding his stride.
The day’s fourth and final session allowed drivers to use their overboost facility, increasing power output to 500bhp. Newcomer Hector Hurst ran well early on before Pommer replaced him at the top of the timesheets with Fontana, Ghirelli and Brutschin all amongst the front-runners.
In the final few minutes though, Monras, Marinescu and Zanella all posted quick laps with the Spaniard once again taking the honours to round off an impressive performance by the 19-year-old.
Speaking afterwards Monras said: "I really enjoyed the test day. I expected to be quick as it's my home circuit which I know well and managed to put in some good lap times using new tyres early on. I'm happy with my pace and we're looking at F2 as an option for next year but we'll have to see if we can get the budget together."
Ghirelli ended the day fourth overall, with Pommer fifth, Jousse sixth and Malvern seventh. Fontana, Liberati and Snoeks rounded out the top 10.
Meanwhile, 2011 Formula Ford runner-up Jeroen Slaghekke had been scheduled to test but has been forced to postpone his run following an injury sustained to his hand.
Testing continues tomorrow from 9am (local time) with full coverage available on www.formulatwo.com.
Barcelona winter testing, day one results (combined):
1. Miki Monras, 1:35.950s2. Mihai Marinescu, +0142s3. Christopher Zanella, +0.583s4. Vittorio Ghirelli, +0.773s5. Markus Pommer, +0.924s6. Maxime Jousse, +1.342s7. Alex Fontana, +1.489s8. Scott Malvern, +1.691s9. Edoardi Liberati, +1.706s10. Kelvin Snoeks, +1.735s