2020 FIA Formula 2 Season Preview

Photo Credits: Formula Motorsport Ltd

The sixteenth season of this championship gets its fourth season under the Formula 2 banner underway gets underway in support of the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend. With many potential stories and potential F1 seats up for grabs, the stakes are very high going into this season for many drivers. Here is a team by team guide for this coming season.

The only rule change going into the season is the switch to 18 inch tyres in preparation for F1’s planned switch in 2021, which got postponed to 2022 as a result of the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

DAMS
undefined
1. Sean Gelael
2. Dan Ticktum

DAMS endured a successful season on track last year, taking the constructors title in honour of their founder Jean-Paul Driot, who tragically passed away mid-season, and fielding the only driver on the 2019 grid to make the step up to F1 for 2020, Nicholas Latifi. This year they have signed two new drivers to the team, in the form of F2 stablemate Sean Gelael, who contests his fifth full season in the series, and former Macau winner and current Williams junior Dan Ticktum, who takes part in his first full season after a tough 2019 in Super Formula, which saw him get dropped by Red Bull mid-season.

Verdict: It can be said that the announcement of this line-up was met with mixed to negative reviews, as Sean Gelael is commonly seen as a pay driver who hasn’t made much headlines, whilst Dan Ticktum has a fairly poor reputation on and off the track as a result of past incidents. However Dan does have pace, and he will likely score the majority of the team’s points this season, potentially taking a win or two. If a seat frees up at Williams, he will be fighting with Jack Aitken for that seat. Sean Gelael will likely have a similar season to what he has had in the past few years, taking the occasional point or two but not challenging for podiums or wins. I doubt DAMS will challenge for the constructors this year.

UNI-Virtuosi Racing
undefined
3. Guanyu Zhou
4. Callum Ilott

After a successful season last year, UNI-Virtuosi go into the season with high expectations. They have maintained the services of last year’s rookie of the year Guanyu Zhou, member of the Renault academy, who will hope to use his 2019 experience to make a challenge for the title, whilst Ferrari academy driver Callum Ilott contests his second season in F2 after having moderate success with Charouz in 2019.

Verdict: Both drivers have a lot at stake going into the new season. There is a vacant seat at Renault up for grabs which a good F2 season could see Guanyu Zhou take, whilst a seat at Alfa Romeo could also be up for grabs if Kimi Raikkonen retires, and as a Ferrari junior, Callum Ilott will find himself in a dogfight with his fellow Ferrari Academy drivers in F2 for that seat. These two drivers have proven pace and with a year’s experience I could see both fighting for regular wins and fighting for the drivers title, and the team fighting for the constructors. Zhou in particular has to be one of the title favourites.

ART Grand Prix
undefined
5. Marcus Armstrong
6. Christian Lundgaard

After winning the drivers but failing to win the constructors for the second year in a row, ART have this year gone for two F3 graduates, in the form of last year’s F3 runner up and Ferrari Driver Academy member Marcus Armstrong, and Renault junior Christian Lundgaard after finishing sixth in F3 last year.

Verdict: Like Virtuosi, both drivers have a potential F1 seat at stake, as Marcus Armstrong could be seen as a favourite for the potential vacant Alfa Romeo seat, due to his proven pace in past series, and he will likely be a title contender this season. Christian Lundgaard knows if he can get on top of his fellow Renault Academy members he could put himself in pole position for that vacant seat. However I feel like that could be a bit of an ask for him and I feel like he will spend most the season in the midfield.

Carlin
undefined
7. Yuki Tsunoda
8. Jehan Daruvala

After a season regularly at the front in 2019, like ART they have signed two F3 graduates and Red Bull juniors. Jehan Daruvala, who finished third in F3 last year, and Yuki Tsunoda, who was a regular front runner and took a win in F3 last year.

Verdict: Carlin have signed two rookie drivers who have proven pace in previous series, however I can’t help but feel both, particularly Jehan Daruvala, could’ve done with an extra year in F3. Jehan really tailed off towards the end of the season last year and may struggle to get out of the midfield like his other F2 rivals may be able to. The same could be said for Yuki Tsunoda, however I feel like he will be the faster of the two, as I believe he would’ve been a title contender in F3 with a better team, and now he is with a very well renowned team he could be faster than first thought. But this is why I believe another season in F3 would’ve been better for him.

Campos Racing
undefined
9. Jack Aitken
10. Guilherme Samaia

After a better season last year which saw multiple wins for Jack Aitken, the team will hope for more success this season. Jack Aitken, having moved from being a Renault to a Williams junior, stays on for a third year in the series and a second year with Campos, whilst he is joined by Guilherme Samaia, who jumps to F2 from the Euroformula Open championship.

Verdict: If a seat frees up at Williams for 2021, Jack Aitken will be in a fight with fellow Williams junior Dan Ticktum for that seat. I am expecting him to have a very similar season to last year, taking multiple victories and being a regular front runner, however the amount of rookies likely to instantly hit the ground running may make the title a bit of a long shot. As for his team-mate Guilherme Samaia, jumping to Formula 2 from finishing mid-pack in Euroformula Open is a very big jump, and most drivers who enter F2 in a similar fashion typically struggle and sometimes fail to see out the season. I feel like he will struggle.

Charouz Racing System
undefined
11. Louis Deletraz
12. Pedro Piquet

After a difficult season for the team in 2019, Charouz have gone for experience and youth. Louis Deletraz returns to the team he drove for in 2018 after spending a year at Carlin, the Swiss driver competing in his fourth full season in the championship, whilst Pedro Piquet makes the step up to F2 after finishing in fifth in F3 last year.

Verdict: Louis Deletraz came agonisingly close to his first win last year on many occasions, and he will be hungry to get that monkey off his back. I feel like his maiden win is a realistic possibility, but I feel like he is going to fall back when it comes to the standings with all the promising rookies expecting to hit the ground running straight away. Whilst a realistic target for Pedro Piquet will probably be to have a respectable midfield result, maybe with a few Sunday heroics.

MP Motorsport

14. Nobuharu Matsushita
15. Felipe Drugovich

After a season consigned to the midfield, MP Motorsport have this year gone for a combination of experience and youth. They have signed Nobuharu Matsushita, who competes in his fifth season in the series, and Felipe Drugovich, who graduates from F3 after a season where he showed flashes of speed.

Verdict: This is an interesting one. Nobuharu Matsushita has been a regular front runner since entering the series, however like with Deletraz and other experienced drivers, whilst I can see him fighting for wins on occasions, he will probably fall back a bit due to the rookies. As for Felipe Drugovich, I believe he should’ve stayed in F3. Despite showing flashes of speed, he only showed them on occasions, only even managed to finish in the points once. Some of that was due to poor luck, but some of that was due to to not being consistently at the front. In F2 that could really be a problem.

BWT HWA Racelab

16. Artem Markelov
17. Giuliano Alesi

After part running the Arden squad in 2019, HWA enter the series full-time after Arden exit the series having been in the second tier of motorsports since the Formula 3000 days. Artem Markelov returns to the series after competing in a few race weekends last year. He is joined by Ferrari academy driver Giuliano Alesi, who contests a second season with the team after spending a season with Trident.

Verdict: In the races he did last year, Artem Markelov wasn’t his usual pace, perhaps due to lack of preparation compared to the other drivers. However spending a sixth full season is quite a long time and usually drivers who spend that long in the series tend to tail off, however we should expect to see some gutsy overtakes as we have become used to from him. On paper Giuliano Alesi is expected to be in the midfield, however in his second season in GP3 he became a regular front runner and race winner, so a couple of Sunday wins could be possible, though an F1 seat for 2021 could be a bit of a long shot.

Prema Racing

20. Mick Schumacher
21. Robert Shwartzman

After their worst season since entering the championship last year, Prema will be wanting to return to the glory days of their first couple of seasons in the championship, fielding an all Ferrari driver academy line-up. They have retained the services of Mick Schumacher, who had a fairly solid season that was plagued by bad luck. He is joined by reigning F3 champion Robert Shwartzman after a convincing victory in the lower division.

Verdict: I think this year Prema are in for their best season since 2017, with both drivers having a potential F1 seat at stake, and they have the capability to challenge for the constructors. Robert Shwartzman I believe has the potential to emulate George Russell and Charles Leclerc, by winning F2 straight off the back of a victory in the lower division, and jumping to F1 as a result. There has been criticism for Mick Schumacher stating he is only highly regarded because of his name, but he did show genuine pace last year and lost a lot of points due to bad luck. I believe he will take more wins this year and be more of a regular front runner.

Trident

22. Roy Nissany
23. Marino Sato

After a tricky season last year finishing bottom of the table, Trident have gone for an all new line-up in the form of 2019 Euroformula Open champion Marino Sato, who contests his first full season in the championship after competing in the final 4 weekends of 2019 with Campos. He is joined by Williams junior Roy Nissany, who returns to the series after a year absence, having spent most of 2018 driving for Campos in the series.

Verdict: I can’t help but feel for Trident this year will be more of the same, given their lack of resources. Marino Sato struggled in the races he did last year, however entering mid-season is difficult, and he did win Euroformula convincingly in 2019. With a full programme of preseason testing, he will be more prepared, and I could see him in the midfield more regularly. Whilst Roy Nissany has significant backing, he was regularly towards the back of the field in 2018, and this year could be more of the same. I feel like 2020 will be another tough year for them.

Hitech Grand Prix

24. Nikita Mazepin
25. Luca Ghiotto

Hitech enter Formula 2 after various success in other formula. For their maiden season, they have signed Nikita Mazepin, who rejoins his old European F3 team for his second F2 season after a stint at ART. He is joined by the experienced Luca Ghiotto, who competes in his fifth season in the championship.

Verdict: I believe as a team, Hitech will not have any problems adapting to Formula 2. They have proven they are capable of adapting to new challenges in the past. With a year’s experience, I believe Nikita Mazepin will be closer to the front than he was in 2019 and could potentially take a win or two. Luca Ghiotto may have a similar fate to other experienced drivers, but his experience will be valuable for a team new to F2.

This year’s F2 season is set to be really exciting. There are potential F1 seats up for grabs so there is going to be a lot at stake, and potential rivalries could emerge, especially between the many that are fighting for a vacant seat at a team linked with Ferrari, to the point we could see some shenanigans between them.

It is very tough to predict an order for this season but this is how I can see the final standings looking like.

DRIVERS
1. Robert Shwartzman
2. Guanyu Zhou
3. Marcus Armstrong
4. Mick Schumacher
5. Jack Aitken
6. Callum Ilott
7. Nikita Mazepin
8. Luca Ghiotto
9. Louis Deletraz
10. Dan Ticktum
11. Nobuharu Matsushita
12. Artem Markelov
13. Yuki Tsunoda
14. Guiliano Alesi
15. Christian Lundgaard
16. Jehan Daruvala
17. Marino Sato
18. Pedro Piquet
19. Sean Gelael
20. Felipe Drugovich
21. Roy Nissany
22. Guilherme Samaia

CONSTRUCTORS
1. Prema Racing
2. UNI-Virtuosi Racing
3. ART Grand Prix
4. DAMS
5. Campos Racing
6. Hitech Grand Prix
7. Charouz Racing System
8. Carlin
9. BWT HWA Racelab
10. MP Motorsport
11. Trident Racing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s