Last weekend saw the Formula Two drivers return to the Algarve for the first time in two years for rounds three and four of the 2012 series. The unpredictable weather combined with the undulating Portimão circuit certainly provided a challenge for the 17-strong field but it was British racer Luciano Bacheta who once again secured a superb double victory to continue his unbeaten record and became the first driver in the new era to pick up four consecutive victories. In both races he was followed closely home by Swiss teenager Mathéo Tuscher with the 15-year-old recording two second places to move into P2 in the drivers' standings. Kevin Mirocha and Markus Pommer secured the remaining podium spots, both marking their first time in the top three. Formulatwo.com takes a look back at how each driver performed over the thrilling weekend...
#3 Max Snegirev R1: 17th R2: 15th
The weekend marked the Russian's return to F2 following a promising campaign last year, but sadly he was unable to repeat the form he showed during his first race of 2011 where he finished in the points. Instead the 24-year-old was caught up in a battle with Sureshwaren in race one with the two running very close at Turn 1 on lap six and dropping him to the back of the field. Then on the last lap in race two he was unsighted exiting Turn 4 following a spin by Kralev and ended up in the barrier. He'll look to come back stronger at the next rounds in Germany and begin challenging for the points which we know he's capable of doing.
#4 Luciano Bacheta R1: 1st R2: 1st
Despite having never stepped foot on the Portimão asphalt, Bacheta produced a dominant display to secure a double victory and the perfect way to celebrate his 22nd birthday weekend. In race one he led from pole, his first in F2, and was pressured all the way by Tuscher but held him off to continue his unbeaten record from Silverstone. The two then went head-to-head again in round four, this time Bacheta seeing a chance to pass the teenager into Turn 3 on the opening lap and holding him off, despite suffering from oversteer, until the chequered flag. His four wins from four races sets a new F2 record and gives him a sizeable 46 point advantage, but there's no doubt he's had to work for his victories and will not have it all his own way for too long.
#5 Parthiva Sureshwaren R1: 16th R2: 14th
The Indian driver's pace was at times very competitive this weekend but also inconsistent. Sadly, he couldn't repeat his P6 shown in free practice two, instead starting race one P12, but lost ground following a tangle with Snegirev at Turn 1 to come home 16th at the flag. He bounced back from a sizeable crash in qualifying two to start P16 and gained a couple of places to finish 14th but knows he has more to show us.
#7 David Zhu R1: 5th R2: 12th
Right from Silverstone, David Zhu has been an exciting driver to watch and last weekend in Portugal it was difficult to take your eyes off him. The Chinese racer converted his strong pace to start P5 for race one and quickly got past a slow starting Pommer before keeping him at bay for much of the race with some superb defensive work, especially along the pit straight Boost Zone. The quicker German did eventually find a way through but not before he showed us a glimpse of what he can do. In qualifying two he was one of several drivers caught out by the rain to start P13 and could have climbed further had he not tangled with Khani early on at the hairpin.
#8 Plamen Kralev R1: 15th R2: 13th
Although the results may not have always gone his way this weekend, Kralev showed encouraging pace, most notably during Thursday's test session where he regularly ran in the top 10 including a best of seventh. He qualified P13 for race one but lost ground on the opening lap to drop to the back of the pack, gradually recovering to finish 15th. In race two he made a great start to be running as high as 12th by lap three, despite starting last, and was on course to hold this until a mistake saw him spin exiting Turn 4.
#9 Mihai Marinescu R1: 10th R2: DNF
Luck was not on the Romanian's side last weekend coming away with only one championship point - not the large points haul we've come to expect. He reached a high of P9 in race one and had to fight hard to remain in the top 10 for his solitary point. He was one of several to be affected by the rain in qualifying two to start P8 but he picked up a hole in his radiator early on in race two causing him to retire. Given his experience and previous win in F2, he'll no doubt come back stronger at the Nűrburgring.
#10 Alex Fontana R1: 7th R2: 10th
After a standout performance at Silverstone, the Swiss racer struggled a little around the Portimão circuit and will be eager to return to his best at the Nűrburgring at the end of this month. Race one was by far his best performance including a great move into Turn 1 to capitalise on the battling pairing of Zamparelli and McKenzie to take them both. The rain in qualifying two hampered him for the second race but he managed to gain two places to just sneak into the points positions.
#11 Kourosh Khani R1: 14th R2: DNF
Portimão proved to be a difficult weekend for the Iranian where he struggled to repeat the pace he showed at Silverstone last time out. In race one he ran as high as eighth before running wide at the midway stage, dropping him down the order before recovering to finish P14. An early coming together with David Zhu at the second hairpin then put him out of the weekend's second race but he'll look to bounce back at the Nűrburgring in three weeks time.
#12 Mathéo Tuscher R1: 2nd R2: 2nd
The Swiss teenager began the weekend with a brand new livery on his F2 car depicting a fire breathing dragon, aptly christened 'Bruce' after the famous films starring Bruce Lee. It proved to be more than just a lucky charm though with the 15-year-old securing two podiums and a pole, even more impressive given his age. His pole lap (available to watch here) during the sudden downpour in qualifying two showed incredible awareness and car control and was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the season so far. In both rounds he had little trouble matching Bacheta's pace and could so easily have won either race and making him a worthy winner of Comma's Driver of the Weekend award.
#14 Mauro Calamia R1: 12th R2: 11th
Calamia continues to show substantial progress and in both races only narrowly missed out on a points score. The Swiss held his own against a competitive midfield pack with his best performance coming in race one where he gained five places from the back of the grid to finish P12. He made up four places in the next race and it won't be long before he collects his maiden points finish.
#15 Victor Guerin R1: 11th R2: 9th
The Brazilian enjoyed an impressive F2 debut last weekend with his car control in the wet of particular note. In race one he made up three places to finish just outside the points and then put his 500bhp F2 car in P6 for race two, until he was handed a grid penalty for an infringement. Undeterred he battled hard to secure P9 and pick up his first championship points during a challenging weekend on an unfamiliar track.
#18 Dino Zamparelli R1: 8th R2: 5th
The 19-year-old should be happy with his two points finishes at Portimão but knows there was more pace to find as he struggled to find the perfect dry set-up. In both races his pace dropped a little and began to back the pack up, but despite this he showed he can hold his own and his P5 in race two was made even more impressive given the frantic midfield battle he had to overcome. The Brit remains one of the championship's top rookies and it won't be long before he secures his maiden F2 podium.
#19 Christopher Zanella R1: 6th R2: 4th
The 2011 F2 runner-up also struggled to find the best dry set up and consequently was hoping for two wet races in Portugal. Sadly for him, that wasn't to be (despite the sudden downpours!) and could only hold his starting P6 position in race one. He qualified P3 for race two but couldn't quite match the pace of Pommer behind him, losing out at Turn 1. He'll now look to come back stronger at the Nűrburgring where he was twice a podium finisher in 2011.
#20 Daniel McKenzie R1: 13th R2: 6th
The former Formula Renault 3.5 racer had an up and down weekend in Portugal, qualifying and racing well but sadly never on the same day. In race one he put his car in P5 but then gradually dropped down the order to finish 13th. Meanwhile, he qualified P10 for race two but then made up an impressive four places, including making the most of a tricky midfield battle, to ensure he didn't come away empty handed.
#24 Kevin Mirocha R1: 3rd R2: 8th
The Polish racer has adapted very quickly to the Williams designed F2 car which clearly showed this weekend with strong pace throughout. He converted his P4 gained in the opening qualifying session into his maiden podium after getting the jump on a slow starting Pommer. He looked quick again in qualifying one but was undone by the sudden rain to start P7, dropping one place to finish P8 and round off a good points haul.
#27 Markus Pommer R1: 4th R2: 3rd
After a disappointing weekend at Silverstone last time out, the German needed to bounce back in Portugal which is exactly what he did. After getting too much wheel spin off the line in race one, he found himself battling with a very defensive David Zhu. He went on to secure P4 but possibly could have gone higher had he been able to pass the Chinese racer sooner. He was caught out by the rain in qualifying two and drove superbly to recover to the second row of the grid after running P16 for much of it. He soon dispatched third-place Zanella with a move into Turn 1 after realising from his earlier battle with Zhu that he needed to boost earlier down the pit straight. He then pushed hard and began to catch the leading pair but never got close enough to use his boost, instead settling for his maiden F2 podium.
#35 Hector Hurst R1: 9th R2: 7th
The British racer continues to impress in the highly competitive series of F2, especially when you consider he's yet to finish outside the points. In both races he made up two places with his best moment coming in round four as he joined a fantastic midfield scrap with fellow countryman Dino Zamparelli and Daniel McKenzie. At this rate it won't be long before he's challenging for podiums.