The 2010 FIA Formula Two Championship got underway as Formula Renault Graduate Dean Stoneman has set the pace in the opening free practice session at Silverstone, Northamptonshire.

Stoneman beat fellow Brit Jack Clarke and 2009 race winner Philipp Eng. Austrian Eng set the third fastest time in the final minute of the opening session.

The early pace saw Eng top the times – this was until Indian Ajith Kumar spun and left his car in a dangerous spot on the outside of Stowe. Armaan Ebrahim almost collected the stricken car of Kumar, and this near miss meant that the stewards were left with no choice but to halt the session to recover the #28 F2 car.

Once the recovery of the car had been completed and the session was back underway, Stoneman soon set the fastest time of the session ahead of fellow Brit Clarke and Russian Sergey Afanasiev.

The pace setter from the pre season tests, Jolyon Palmer was in eighteenth position at the half way stage of the session, but was soon on the climb as he broke into the top ten.

Another F2 Graduate, young Danish driver Johan Jokinen has been in impressive form throughout testing and with ten minutes remaining, Jokinen had set the third fastest time. Stoneman still had the session benchmark time of 1:37.932s, which saw a second off the lap which Palmer put in during Mondays test.

Right at the end of the thirty minute session, twenty year old Eng climbed into third ahead of Jokinen and Afanasiev, with Tom Gladdis rounding out the top six. Completing the top ten were Ebrahim, Benjamin Bailly, Mihai Marinescu and Palmer.

Some of the drivers had to complete overnight, cross Europe drives due to the closure of British airspace. Kazim Vasiliauskas, Nicola De Marco and Plamen Kralev had to drive all night to ensure they arrived at the circuit in time.

One of the early season favourites, Lithuanian Vasiliauskas had a settled introduction to the upgraded Formula Two race car, the JPH1B. At the end of the session, Vasiliauskas ended the session eleventh, having not tested during pre season. He beat fellow series returnee Nicola De Marco.

Speaking after the session, Stoneman said: “Once again we were really just focussing on longer runs and learning about the tyres, so the time wasn’t really a major concern. It is still good to go quickest and we will hopefully learn a little more about the car later on today. Things are going well – the overall time was not as quick as testing, but you have to remember that we were able to use the overboost on Monday.”

Top 10 times at the end of FP1:

  1. Dean Stoneman – 1:37.932s
  2. Jack Clarke: +0.0090s
  3. Philipp Eng +0.455s
  4. Johan Jokinen +0.560s
  5. Sergey Afanasiev + 0.609s
  6. Tom Gladdis +0.627s
  7. Armaan Ebrahim +0.642s
  8. Benjamin Bailly +0.755s
  9. Mihai Marinescu +0.804s
  10. 10. Jolyon Palmer +0.876s