Will Bratt - Spa Formula 2 WinnerWill Bratt secured his maiden FIA Formula 2 Championship race victory in sensational style at the immensely challenging Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium this afternoon, Saturday, 25th June, thanks to a superbly judged performance in a wet fifth round of the 2011 season.

The Banbury 23-year-old, who started the race fifth on the grid, made a good getaway and after an exceptionally bold move around the outside at the first corner, he swept into second on the run down the hill towards Eau Rouge before taking the lead at the exit of Les Combes.

From there, the Briton built and maintained a healthy lead – punching in fastest race laps when he needed to – before taking the chequered flag on lap 16 some 2.5 seconds clear. The fantastic win, in very tricky conditions, has hoisted Will back into the championship top five, just a single point shy of fourth place.

“It’s fantastic to get the first win, it’s definitely been a long time coming”, said the Oxon racer after a drive which showcased his skills at their brilliant best, “This has put us back into the thick of things in the championship which is exactly what we needed after Magny-Cours. I can’t wait for tomorrow now, there’s no reason at all why we shouldn’t be challenging at the front again.”

During practice on Friday, 24th June, Will was fourth fastest in the damp opening session, within half a second of the top of the timesheets, before running 10th quickest in session two. Round five qualifying this morning was fiercely contested in very wet conditions but as the track dried towards the conclusion, Will had to settle for fifth fastest despite holding pole position at one stage.

Before the start of the race there were some concerns regarding oil on the circuit in the proximity of Will’s grid slot but he made no mistakes as the action got underway, holding fifth into La Source and boldly going around the outside on the brakes to be in a position to move into second.

Claiming the place and immediately threatening pole-sitter Ramon Pineiro, Will committed himself to full attack mode through the daunting climb up Eau Rouge and along Kemmel Straight. Running close behind Pineiro through Les Combes and piling on the pressure, the Spaniard then made a mistake at the middle part of the right-left combination of turns and Will happily grabbed the lead.

Some two seconds clear into lap two, his advantage was cut to just half a second the next time around but from there Will increased the gap steadily and after reeling off a succession of fastest laps at mid-distance he ran untroubled to a richly deserved, and long-awaited, maiden F2 victory – his first race win since memorably taking the Euroseries 3000 title in 2009.

Will added: “My start was good and after I decided to go to the outside for the first corner, I made up a load of time on the brakes which got us up into second. I committed hard to Eau Rouge and that put me in a good position behind (Ramon) Pineiro to pressure him through Les Combes. From there it was a case of keeping the car in-line to avoid the damp patches and bringing it home.”

Qualifying for round six of the 2011 FIA Formula 2 Championship will get underway at 09.00 (local time) tomorrow, Sunday, 26th June, with the race itself scheduled to commence at 14.20. Cable and digital satellite channel Motors TV will broadcast live coverage of round six from 13.10 UK time with live streaming online at www.formulatwo.com

Provisional 2011 FIA Formula 2 Championship Standings (after Rd5):
1st Christopher Zanella, 86pts; 5th Will Bratt, 53pts

Photo by FIA Formula Two Championship