Andy Soucek dominated the first Formula 2 race of the day at Donington Park after charging into the lead from third on the grid at the first corner.
The 24-year-old Spaniard extended his championship lead with his third victory of the year, pulling well clear of a race-long battle for second and finishing 10 seconds up the road.
"I think it was my best start so far," said Soucek. "I have been struggling a bit with the clutch recently, but this time I got it just right.
"The car was absolutely perfect. Reliability in F2 is getting better every day and I had no problems at all. Ten more points for the championship is crucial and it takes the pressure off for race two."
Mikhail Aleshin held second for the duration of the race after following Soucek past pole-sitter Tobias Hegewald into Redgate on the first lap. Aleshin had to withstand pressure from Hegewald in the first half the race, but began to draw clear after half distance and had a comfortable run to second in the end.
Hegewald lost his third place with five laps to go when Milos Pavlovic made a superb pass at the Esses. The Serbian feinted to the outside but switched back and dived up the inside to claim the apex. But he was denied a place on the podium when his car failed exiting the Goddards Hairpin with just two laps to go.
That promoted Edoardo Piscopo and Philipp Eng to fourth and fifth, behind Hegewald, and gave Sebastian Hohenthal a well deserved sixth place. The Swede's race was a comeback drive after he was knocked out of fifth place by Julien Jousse on the second lap and had to fight his way back up from 11th.
Jousse followed Hohenthal back through the field and set the fastest lap of the race on his way to seventh. The pair will resume their battle this afternoon when they line up on the front row together for race two.
Armaan Ebrahim scored his first point of the season in eighth place, while Jack Clarke and Mirko Bortolotti completed the top 10.
Soucek's main title rival Robert Wickens ran sixth for much of the race but dropped out at two thirds distance with a sick-sounding engine.
Pos Driver Time/Gap 1. Andy Soucek 35m26.366s 2. Mikhail Aleshin +9.799s 3. Tobias Hegewald +11.976s 4. Edoardo Piscopo +12.848s 5. Philipp Eng +14.056s 6. Sebastian Hohenthal +15.760s 7. Julien Jousse +16.289s 8. Armaan Ebrahim +29.596s 9. Jack Clarke +39.739s 10. Mirko Bortolotti +41.514s 11. Jason Moore +51.357s 12. German Sanchez +55.939s 13. Natacha Gachnang +1m00.663s 14. Alex Brundle +1m26.951s 15. Henri Karjalainen +1 lap 16. Jolyon Palmer +1 lap 17. Tom Gladdis +2 laps Retirements Milos Pavlovic 21 laps Carlos Iaconelli 17 laps Pietro Gandolfi 15 laps Robert Wickens 14 laps Jens Hoing 1 lap Nicola de Marco 1 lap Kazim Vasiliauskas 0 laps