Robert Wickens set the pace in the first official test for the new Formula 2 series at Snetterton today.
The Canadian driver set a best time of 59.433 seconds in the afternoon session to beat fellow Red Bull-backed driver Mirko Bortolotti by 0.168sec. Although the cars had run in untimed shakedown tests yesterday, this was the first fully-fledged group practice day for the new Williams-designed F2 machines.
"It was a good reward and a good way to end the first test day of testing, but ultimately it's only the first day of a long season," said Wickens, a champion in Formula BMW USA competition before moving to European racing. "I really enjoyed it and I felt very comfortable in the car. The competition is very tight. I was surprised at one point when I was only three tenths off the best time, but I was way down in the overall positions. It's definitely what you can expect from the whole season and I think it should be good."
Bortolotti was content to be as high as second, having taken a conservative approach to the day.
"To be honest I just wanted to learn the car and track today so I wasn't focused on times, but when I saw that I was second I was really pleased," said the Italian Formula 3 champion.
Alex Brundle completed the top three, ahead of GP2 convert Andy Soucek and Phillip Eng. Soucek had been quickest in the morning session, followed by Eng and Milos Pavlovic.
After a further group test at Silverstone later this month, the championship commences at Valencia on 29-31 May.Leading Wednesday times:
Pos Driver Time Gap
1. Robert Wickens 59.433s
2. Mirko Bortolotti 59.601s + 0.168s
3. Alex Brundle 59.655s + 0.222s
4. Andy Soucek 59.763s + 0.330s
5. Philipp Eng 59.963s + 0.530s
6. Milos Pavlovic 59.970s + 0.537s
7. Julien Jousse 59.974s + 0.541s
8. Sebastian Hohenthal 1m00.070s + 0.637s
9. Mikhail Aleshin 1m00.147s + 0.714s
10. Tobias Hegewald 1m00.164s + 0.731s