When the lights went out for the start of the first race of the 2011 Formula 2 season at Silverstone, they did so with Mirko Bortolotti on pole. Twenty one laps later when the chequered flag flew, Bortolotti had the honour of crossing the line first. At Barcelona, setting for the year's final race, the sequence was repeated; a fitting frame for what was an outstanding season for the Italian.
Over 16 races he amassed seven victories, seven pole positions and 14 podiums. He never finished lower than sixth, sealed the title on home soil at Monza - the penultimate round of the championship - and ended with a winning margin of more than 100 points: fairytale stuff.
Amid such domination it is easy to lose sight of the fact that Bortolotti did not always have things his own way. Miki Monras was more than equal to the Italian's challenge in the second race of the year at Silverstone, and then finished ahead of him in the opening contest at Magny-Cours to assume the championship lead. One race later and this time it was Christopher Zanella leading Bortolotti, with Monras just two points further back.
That Bortolotti eventually finished with such a dominant margin over both speaks volumes for his campaign thenceforth. Where others fell away, or struggled with bad weekends, Bortolotti was simply faultless and unrelenting. Victory in the final race at Spa-Francorchamps gave him the points lead and also the momentum to dominate. He won both races at the Nurburgring, the next round, finished fifth in the first race at Brands Hatch and then took seven consecutive top-two finishes, confirmation he was on another level to the rest of the field.
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