Luciano Bacheta resisted late pressure from teen sensation Matheo Tuscher in Portimao to convert his maiden FIA Formula Two Championship pole into a third victory from as many races so far this season.
The Brit had scored a double victory at the Silverstone season opener two weeks' ago with a pair of penultimate lap moves, and this time looked comfortably set to add to his tally. Tuscher closed up within the closing stages however, close enough to take advantage of the championship's new boost zones.
Bacheta held on though, crossing the line just three tenths ahead of the 15-year-old Swiss ace. The result extended his championship lead to more than double the number of points scored by his nearest rival, who is now Tuscher.
“That felt pretty good,” said Bacheta. “I was relieved to see the checkered flag because I knew Matheo would be boosting behind me in the last few laps. I wasn’t really looking at my pit board as I had my eyes fixed on my mirrors!
“I was hoping to get away from Matheo in the early stages but he was just sticking with me. I was also aware how the races at Silverstone played out, so was just preparing myself for that and trying to see where he was weaker. At the end he was coming at me quite strong and he did a great job.”
Tuscher said: “I feel really good with my first podium of the season. I tried to do the same thing that Luciano did at Silverstone and overtake on the last lap but I couldn’t do it.
“I pushed him hard and tried to follow him but he was faster than me and I’m pleased to get second and I hope to continue like this. I didn’t have any boost left at the end of the race so I’m not sure I would have overtaken him had there been more laps, unless there would have been something with the rain.”
Kevin Mirocha moved from fourth to third at the start of the race to score his maiden F2 podium after a quiet race.
“It’s always good to be on the podium but I’m not so happy because my tyres were used tyres and quite worn so I wasn’t able to keep up with Luciano and Matheo during the race,” explained the Pole. “We’re still working on the set up, as we were in testing, and changing things and we’re getting better and better and I hope it will be even better for the rest of the time.”
Markus Pommer had started second on the grid, but bogged down off the line and fell to fifth, behind the fast-starting David Zhu. The Chinese driver held his position under constant pressure from the German, who eventually found a way past to claim fourth.
Christopher Zanella and Mihai Marinescu scrapped over sixth, but Zanella won out after the Romanian spun when he tried to make a move at Turn 1. Alex Fontana took seventh after a good battle with Dino Zamparelli, who was eighth. He crossed the line only just ahead of fellow Formula Renault BARC graduate Hector Hurst. Marinescu recovered to tenth.