Formula 2 revitalised
After a rather ordinary 2019 season, the F2 grid has the same vibes as the class of 2018 once again! Who will make it to F1?
Formula 2 in the first three rounds of the championship has been pretty exciting this year! Not that last season wasn't, but I guess the consensus was that there wasn't exactly the star quality to make it to F1 despite Latifi making the jump.
I hear a money counter over at Williams HQ. 💸
Ahem. Not that Latifi is a bad driver despite the huge financial backing - shades of Lance Stroll. Both solid drivers, but hardly a Leclerc or a Russell. 2019 did have one star in my opinion, but Nyck de Vries ended up in Formula E with Mercedes which is a pretty good move. A shame he hasn't got his chance on the F1 grid yet.
Back to this season though! In this pandemic hit season, much like it's parent series, Formula 2 has had to adapt and adapt it has. Whether to new 18 inch wheels or a slew of new drivers and line ups. Today we'll have a look at some of those drivers and the ones we believe will be on an F1 grid near you ...soon.
Let's dive in!
The Russian Ferrari Accademy driver has taken to F2 like a duck to water. Having won last years inaugural FIA Formula 3 Championship, he has swept the field already picking up podiums and two wins. He currently leads the standings with fellow Ferrari Accademy drivers in hot pursuit - messers Illot and Schumacher.
He is perhaps one of the only drivers on the grid thus far this season where you look at his performances and think "wow, he could be in F1 already". These "wonderkids" as they'd call them in football are popping up more and more, and the fact that he leads the championship by 18 points after three rounds should tell you everything you need to know.
Can he make it to F1 though? Absolutely, I think he is likely one of the best prospects outside of F1 not in F1. I would not be surprised if a Ferrari 'feeder team' such as Haas or Alfa Romeo take a look at filling one of their seats with him for next season.
Probability of F1? 10/10.
What of the son of the greatest F1 driver to ever live? Well, expectations in his second year of F2 are pretty high. Having won the series that became the FIA Formula 3 Championship a year before Schwartzman, the talent is also clearly there. His transition last season was slightly rocky, despite a single win at the Hungaroring, too many times he found himself down the pecking order or woefully inconsistent.
Of course, he also had multiple things go against him while he adapted and it seemed like during the Austrian and Styrian rounds that he'd carried that into 2019. I mean how often does a fire extinguisher in your cockpit explode? However at the Hungaroring, where he won his maiden F2 race last year, he picked up a double podium and led a large part of the feature race. Only unexpected degradation on poor Medium tires cost him and various others up and down the grid.
To me it's almost inevitable that he will make F1 almost on name alone. F1 shouldn't work like that, but we have to acknowledge drivers like Bruno Senna and Nelson Piquet Jr made it due to huge backing and their name. That's not to say Mick has no talent, far from it, it just hasn't been unleashed to its full potential yet.
Probability of F1? 8/10
The young Dane has followed Robert Schwartzman up from Formula 3 to Formula 2 this season. Despite finishing 6th in last seasons F3 championship, he picked up a win and showed quite a few flashes of brilliance. You could argue he won two races, where he was cruely docked of the win at Catalunya's feature race despite finishing first on the road.
A couple of rounds into his F2 career though, he's looked rapid. One criticism has perhaps been his inconsistency (similar to Mick Schumacher), but he's looked the part. Already two rounds in he secured his first F2 win at the Styrian sprint race. He was also looking quite pacey in the Hungaroring feature race until an unfortunate nip with Luca Ghiotto saw him fall down the order with a puncture and eventually retire.
There's something about his driving style though that is reminiscent of aggressive drivers before him, who've carved a career in F1. To me it seems there's a lot of potential there, will it be unlocked? If he sky rockets in the rest of the season I could see him on the F1 grid by 2022, especially being part of the Renault academy.
Probability of F1? 8/10
Probably has a good shout given that his performances in patches have been fantastic. Already contracted as a Ferrari Academy driver, he's had mixed luck so far this season. Starting the season with a win and only failing to score once he's been quite consistent. Despite this, he's still had drives like Hungaroring where in the feature race he was leading by a country mile and plummeted down the field due to the unexpected behaviour of the medium tyres.
By the same token, his sprint race was stunning. Most drivers having learnt their lesson from the feature race opted to stop in the sprint race, which isn't common at all. Despite starting in reverse grid pole, he fell quite a bit back but an absolutely possessed drive saw him finish 2nd well under half a second.
If he had one more corner, for sure he would have overtaken Luca Ghiotto's flailing front tyres and took another win. Either way, he sits second place right now and much like Mick Schumacher, after an inaugural mixed season, he's looking pretty solid. There have also been rumours touted he could head to Alfa Romeo, but time will tell.
Probability of F1? 7/10
The grid this season also has an exciting crop of drivers drafted in from F3, returning from last season or from other series. There are a couple of drivers who've been in the field for a while now such as Matsushita, Ghiotto, Markelov and Galeal. Despite those drivers all being F2 winners and extremely fast on their day, they've never had a serious look in.
A few of them may have been reserve or simulator drivers for F1 teams, but realistically their time has passed. It could be F1 expands in 2022 and some of these drivers come in a bit later in their careers, but series like GT World Challenge or Formula E, which are fantastic in their own right. A driver like Luca Ghiotto in Formula E is mouthwatering due to his raw speed and unpredictability.
Of those who could still make F1 you still have Marcus Armstrong, Guanyu Zhou and Jack Aitkin. They are already reserve drivers and on academy programs for teams like Williams, Renault and Ferrari. You've also got guys like Yuki Tsunoda who's shown flashes of immense pace and Felipe Drugovich who's already a winner this season.
Either way, with 3 new circuits added to the calendar, I'm excited to see how the rest of the season pans out. So far the racing has been electric.