Mirko Bortolotti

Pineiro’s third place denies Monras third place in the championship

Mirko Bortolotti has won the first race at Barcelona with a strong performance, breaking the early challenge of Miki Monras with a succession of fast laps. Ramon Pineiro completed the podium with third place, guaranteeing him at least third place in the championship.

Bortolotti made a fine start from the grid and whilst Monras was safely installed in third place, Pinero endured a tough start fending off Tobias Hegewald. However as he had predicted after qualifying, Pinero began to pick up his pace as he familiarised himself with the circuit.

At the front, Monras began to catch Bortolotti after a few laps but the 2011 Champion sped up as the race headed towards the halfway point. A succession of fast laps began, and the Austro-Italian started gaining half a second every lap, eventually beating his opponent by 8.771 seconds by the chequered flag.

Meanwhile once Pinerio had cleared Hegewald, the German came under attack from Mihai Marinescu. The Romanian attempted a few moves but was unable to wrest fourth place.

Jack Clarke had an untroubled run to sixth after an early challenge from Christopher Zanella came to nought after the Swiss ran wide. Alex Brundle looked as though he might come into play at one point as Kelvin Snoeks and Mikkel Mac battled behind, but the latter pair started to reel the Briton in late on.

Further back Benjamin Lariche tried to make up for a spin on the first lap by fighting his way back. An incident with Kralev was declared a racing incident by the stewards when the Bulgarian spun. Another entertaining tussle with Jose Luis Abadin helped his cause, and he also passed James Cole by the end of the race.

There was no champagne celebration on the podium and after the race Bortolotti paid tribute to fellow Italian Marco Simoncelli as well as Dan Wheldon, who both passed away recently.

Speaking afterwards Bortolotti said: “I’m very happy with that performance. The start was good and I just tried to get into my rhythm. It’s very difficult to overtake here, so I knew that as long as I didn’t make a mistake I should be able to take the win. I’m happy with that and I think we had good pace throughout the weekend and obviously the new tyres helped me a lot this race, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow now.”

Adding: “I’m sorry for not spraying champagne on the podium but I lost a racing idol last week and two weeks ago there was a massive accident as well so I didn’t feel like spraying champagne.”

The final round of the 2011 F2 series gets underway tomorrow (Sunday) beginning with qualifying at 08:45 (local time).

Barcelona, race one results:

1. Mirko Bortolotti, 22 Laps
2. Miki Monras, +8.771s
3. Ramon Pineiro, +19.846s
4. Tobias Hegewald, +26.201s
5. Mihai Marinescu, 26.933s
6. Jack Clarke, +39.492s
7. Christopher Zanella, +41.852s
8. Alex Brundle, +43.033s
9. Kelvin Snoeks, +43.588s
10. Mikkel Mac, +44.458s