Wickens wins opening F2 race

Robert Wickens dominated the opening Formula 2 race of the season at Valencia, taking a comfortable victory from pole position

Wickens wins opening F2 race

He took an easy lead at the start when he made a swift getaway while fellow front row starter Tobias Hegewald bogged down, and he was never really challenged.

Andy Soucek slotted into second off the line and looked for a while as though he might threaten Wickens, but the Canadian broke his charge after just eight laps and Soucek began to fade.

Wickens eased away at a steady three tenths per lap until an incident between Soucek and Hegewald brought out the safety car. Soucek's car slowed and came to a halt at the exit of the right-hand kink at Turn 14. Carlos Iaconelli and Hegewald, running third and fourth, arrived on the scene blind and Hegewald struck the back of Soucek's car, eliminating both.

The restart raised no dramas for Wickens and he continued as before, stretching away from the pack.

"The whole race for me was just tyre conservation," said Wickens. "I made a pretty good start and maintained P1. Andy kept the pressure on in the opening laps but I pushed quite hard and once I'd built a gap I could just focus on consistency and keeping the car in one piece, and nurse it to the finish."

Iaconelli was left with second place, while Kazim Vasiliauskas completed the podium. The Lithuanian had made a great start to jump from ninth to fifth on the opening lap and then profited from the misfortunes of Soucek and Hegewald.

Mikhail Aleshin held onto fourth place following a dogged scrap for the lower reaches of the top six. The Russian tried to pass Vasiliauskas at the restart but lost momentum as the pack bottle-necked into Turn 1. He was in turn challenged by Julien Jousse, but he managed to force the Frenchman to the outside of Turn 2, allowing Philipp Eng to steal his place.

Aleshin then came under strong pressure from Eng himself after dropping a wheel into the gravel at Turn 13, but he survived a run down the main straight and held onto fourth. Eng let fifth slip away on the last lap when he spun at Turn 2 while under pressure from Jousse.

Mirko Bortolotti completed the top six, climbing quietly up from his sixth row starting spot.

Pos Driver Gap 1. Robert Wickens 37m03.621s 2. Carlos Iaconelli +3.870 3. Kazim Vasiliauskas +5.241 4. Mikhail Aleshin +8.554 5. Julien Jousse +9.922 6. Mirko Bortolotti +10.904 7. Henry Surtees +11.319 8. Alex Brundle +12.326 9. Nicola de Marco +12.913 10. Sebastian Hohenthal +13.976 11. Natacha Gachnang +14.982 12. Philipp Eng +17.675 13. Jack Clarke +17.916 14. German Sanchez +17.994 15. Armaan Ebrahim +18.942 16. Jason Moore +20.724 17. Henri Karjalainen +22.076 18. Jens Hoing +25.218 19. Tom Gladdis +27.296 20. Pietro Gandolfi +37.711 21. Jolyon Palmer +48.195 Retirements Andy Soucek 14 laps Tobias Hegewald 14 laps Milos Pavlovic 4 laps Edoardo Piscopo 3 laps Fastest lap, Wickens 1:29.166 
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