Briton Dean Stoneman cruised away to win the first race of the British round of the FIA Formula 2 Championship at Brands Hatch a dominating 8 seconds ahead of the field. Stoneman is now only 5 points behind Championship leader Jolyon Palmer, who had a poor race. Stoneman was gifted an early lead from the line after Sergey Afanasiev had an awful start causing the field to bunch up behind him, and allowed Stoneman to run away in the first few corners.
Jack Clarke managed to get past Afanasiev at Paddock Hill, and then the Russian went on to make contact with another Brit, Will Bratt at Druids causing Bratt to get airborne for a few moments, and the pair ended up losing further ground. Two drivers who benefited from this however were Ivan Samarin and Tom Gladdis, to move into third and fourth. This marked a great start for Samarin, who had managed to move from sixth to third before the pack had reached Graham Hill bend for the first time.
With a quarter of the race gone, Stoneman’s lead was at five seconds, and Clarke was in a comfortable second, but most of the action was coming from the scrap for the final step on the podium. Samarin had defended well in the early part of the race, but every time Gladdis made an attempt to pass that would ultimately fail, this left the door open for Bratt and Afanasiev. A cat and mouse battle ensued. Bratt’s patience was finally rewarded, after Gladdis ran wide through Graham Hill bend, causing him to be off line for Surtees and Bratt squeaked through.
While all of this was going on, Stoneman was unleashing a relentless pace. He was so dominant that he didn’t use a single overboost option throughout the race, and the eventual gap could have been much bigger had he not had cruised the final few laps. As mentioned, Stoneman has decreased the Championship deficit by 21 points, after Jolyon Palmer failed to improve from his seventh place start. He eventually finished in eighth.
Jack Clarke held onto second, to claim his best F2 result so far, and Ivan Samarin held out for third, his highest finish in international motorsport. Despite continued pressure from Tom Gladdis, Will Bratt took fourth, with Sergey Afanasiev finishing sixth. Nicola De Marco had a storming run to seventh, coming from tenth on the grid, getting past Philipp Eng and Kazim Vasiliauskas off the line. De Marco came under pressure from Palmer throughout, but held him off, leaving the Championship leader to finish eighth. Palmer himself came under pressure from Armaan Ebrahim, but held the Indian off in ninth. Philipp Eng’s title challenges are hanging in the balance, after sliding to fourth in the Championship due to his tenth place finish.
Only one driver failed to finish, and that was Plamen Kralev, who span on lap 2, ending his chances of a finish.