Ramon Pineiro scored his third straight win in the FIA Formula Two Championship, also completing a double victory at the Red Bull Ring with glory in Race 2 at the revamped Austrian circuit.
Pineiro started from second on the grid, but took the lead from polesitter Christopher Zanella when the Swiss driver ran wide at Turn 2 on the opening lap. Pineiro maintained a lead of around two seconds over championship leader Mirko Bortolotti for much of the race, though the Austro-Italian picked up his pace at the end. He had closed to within 1.2 seconds of Pineiro by the checkered flag, but the Spaniard remained comfortably ahead. Mihai Marinescu finished third again, meaning an exact repeat of the top three from the first race.
“I think this was the hardest race I’ve won,” said Pineiro afterwards, “because I just built up a two second gap and then Mirko and Mihai were just doing qualifying laps every single lap and I knew just one mistake would bring them even closer. So it was very hard to keep consistent and stay on the limit which is the hardest thing to do, but I could manage it and take the win.
“I know these guys aren’t going to make it easy, but I won at Brands Hatch and I did it here and I see no reason why I can’t do it at Monza. I think third [in the championship] is the main target now, it’s a bit far away but if we keep the pace like this and with my home races at the last meeting it can be a boost.”
Bortolotti said: “It’s very good for us, a really good result starting from third and finishing second from being almost fourth in Turn 1. That was a really interesting race, as Ramon said, after five or six laps it was like every single lap was a qualifying lap. I think both of us were pushing at the maximum and that’s really cool. It was a great race and it seems that we had quite similar pace and for me there was no chance to close up and try to attack Ramon.
“I think the pace was ok and I’m happy with setting the fastest lap twice. Today we showed that we have potential because pole position was a really good lap which was actually taken away, but the lap was there so I’m very happy with the pace we had throughout the weekend. It’s very good to have two second positions for us and now we are looking forward to Monza.”
Marinescu added: “It was a good race. I didn’t risk it in the first three corners, I just kept calm and I knew something would happen up front. Then when everything settled I went on to catch Christopher, I took him, put the car in front of him and then left it there so I’m pretty happy about this result.
“I grew up as a racer in Monza so I am basically at home there. I think it’s going to be another good weekend but I have to keep on pushing and keeping the same rhythm and maybe it’s second or maybe first next time!”
Zanella finished fourth, ahead of Kelvin Snoeks, Tobias Hegewald and Max Snegirev. Benjamin Lariche was eighth, ahead of Mikkel Mac and series newcomer Luciano Bacheta who climbed five places after a disappointing qualifying result.
Jack Clarke and Alex Brundle both retired after separate incidents at Turn 1, while Miki Monras fell to 11th after spinning early on.
Bortolotti has extended his championship lead over Zanella to 60 points, meaning he only needs to maintain his advantage to seal the title at his home round at Monza, the penultimate weekend of the season, on 1-2 October.
Race 2 results – 26 laps:
1. Ramon Pineiro, 36m07.472s
2. Mirko Bortolotti, +1.204s
3. Mihai Marinescu, +9.920s
4. Christopher Zanella, +12.709s
5. Kelvin Snoeks, +20.818s
6. Tobias Hegewald, +24.689s
7. Max Snegirev, +30.592s
8. Benjamin Lariche, +33.186s
9. Mikkel Mac, +33.537s
10. Luciano Bacheta, +35.887s
Championship standings after 6 of 8 rounds:
1. Mirko Bortolotti, 223 pts
2. Christopher Zanella, 163
3. Ramon Pineiro, 122
4. Miki Monras, 108
5. Tobias Hegewald, 99
6. Jack Clarke, 92