Formula 2 Winter Test (Barcelona, December 9th)

As several Formula 2 runners and hopefuls arrived in Barcelona for the final two-day test of the year, the cool conditions of Thursday would see Mihai Marinescu, Jack Clarke and Alex Brundle make the most of the on track action.

Clarke was quick in all three sessions as it happened, as he emerged a mere 0.008-of-a-second shy of the Romanian Marinescu in the opening session, while the Briton was just less than two-tenths shy of Brundle as the evening drew in.
The morning started off with some very difficult conditions following heavy overnight rain and although the track began to dry as time passed, very sections remained perilous and those that graced the damp kerbs and white line were found wanting. With the circuit drying, Marinescu jumped to the top of the timing screens with only minutes to spare, with Clarke putting in his best effort moments later. Ramón Piñeiro headed the session until Marinescu’s lap and would eventually be classified 3rd, half-a-second ahead of the quick Brundle.
Two incidents marred the morning running. Thiemo Storz clouted the a barrier, severely damaging his car, while Benjamin Lariche suffered a spin at turn 11, leaving him stranded in the gravel trap – as a consequence, both missed the latter half of the morning running, but returned in the afternoon.

Indeed Lariche would make up for his earlier mistake by setting the 3rd quickest time in the following session. The Frenchman ended his run a mere 0.123-of-a-second shy of Clarke (top with a 1:38.247) and Brundle only 0.107-of-a-second adrift of his fellow Briton.
Mihai Marinescu was unable to repeat his morning success, as he dropped to 6th in the sheets, behind the ever-improving César Ramos (4th) and Christopher Zanella (5th); however this did not stop Ramos from having an off-track excursion in the still tricky conditions.
Formula Palmer Audi promotees, Nigel Moore and Maxime Jousse clocked up 8th and 9th best times respectively. Plamen Kralev also beached himself in the Spanish gravel – an off that brought a temporary halt to the session – the Bulgarian was 14th quickest out of the 15 runners.

Thursday final session was only a 45-minute short run, but it allowed for overboost to used for the first time on the day. It would be enough for Brundle to leapfrog Clarke, while Zanella and Ramos shy of the British pair.
Both Clarke and Kralev suffered from offs during the final run, as both discovered inviting gravel traps, bringing out red flags and disturbing the session. Piñeiro was one those drivers that lost out – the Spanish national set his quickest time following Clarke’s off, only for to be disallowed for speeding under yellow flags. It would have put Piñeiro 3rd, but instead that spot would go to Zanella, with Piñeiro mired in 9th, one second off the pace.
Clarke has certainly shown some pace in the Formula 2 tests of late and will be intriguing to see if he can apply similar speed to the Championship itself next year. The 2011 season will be his third attempt to claim the Formula 2 crown.

Day One, Morning Session:
1  Mihai Marinescu,   1:36.647s
2  Jack Clarke,         +0.008s
3  Ramón Piñeiro,       +0.454s
4  Alex Brundle,        +0.942s
5  Kelvin Snoeks,       +1.177s
6  César Ramos,         +1.467s
7  Maxime Jousse,       +1.532s
8  Christopher Zanella, +1.570s
9  Daniel Cammish,      +1.781s
10 Dominik Kraihamer,   +1.842s
11 Nigel Moore,         +2.235s
12 Plamen Kralev,       +2.437s
13 Max Snegirev,        +2.466s
14 Benjamin Lariche,    +6.294s
15 Thiemo Storz,       +18.007s

Day One, Afternoon Session:
1  CLARKE, Jack       1:38.247s
2  BRUNDLE, Alex        +0.107s
3  LARICHE, Benjamin    +0.123s
4  RAMOS, César         +0.575s
5  ZANELLA, Christopher +0.911s
6  MARINESCU, Mihai     +1.019s
7  CAMMISH, Daniel      +1.029s
8  MOORE, Nigel         +1.114s
9  JOUSSE, Maxime       +1.139s
10 SNOEKS, Kelvin       +1.140s
11 PIÑEIRO, Ramón       +1.379s
12 SNEGIREV, Max        +1.456s
13 KRAIHAMER, Dominik   +1.917s
14 KRALEV, Plamen       +2.529s
15 STORZ, Thiemo        +3.162s

Day One, Evening Session:
1  Alex Brundle,      1:37.722s
2  Jack Clarke,         +0.180s
3  Christopher Zanella, +0.397s
4  César Ramos,         +0.567s
5  Maxime Jousse,       +0.658s
6  Mihai Marinescu,     +0.791s
7  Kelvin Snoeks,       +0.923s
8  Benjamin Lariche,    +0.926s
9  Ramón Piñeiro,       +0.945s
10 Nigel Moore,         +1.048s
11 Thiemo Storz,        +1.071s
12 Dominik Kraihamer,   +1.807s
13 Max Snegirev,        +1.902s
14 Daniel Cammish,      +2.007s
15 Plamen Kralev,       +2.874s

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