Formula 1 might be in their mid-season summer break, but Formula 2 is only 4 weekends away from knowing who will be crowned, the first, FIA Formula 2 champion. After 7 rounds already decided, let’s have a look at how this season has been going so far.
As most of you know we started the season with one major change. The ever so loved GP2 Series got rebranded as FIA Formula 2 Championship, to emphasize the FIA’s involvement in the series. Thankfully all it did was change the name, cause the series is still as thrilling as ever.
While the championship battle will likely, and hopefully, carry all the way to the final race of the season, the most impressive thing is how rookie Charles Leclerc has been dominating every race weekend. Even though with still 184 points up for grabs, which makes it technically possible for the top 11 to still win the championship, the battle will most likely be between the driver standing’s top 4: Charles Leclerc, Oliver Rowland, Artem Markelov and Nicholas Latifi.
THE ONE TO BEAT
If you have been following the season intensively, or even if you haven’t, you should already know Charles Leclerc is the most talked about driver. Dominating race weekend after race weekend, the Monegasque has been exceeding the already high expectations. The PREMA Racing driver climbed up from the GP3 series, where he is the reigning champion.
Leclerc started his rookie season with a good first weekend in Bahrain. Scoring his first pole position and winning in Sunday’s sprint race, the Ferrari protégée impressing from his debut. He then went on to score every pole position, with the exception of Hungary, but only because he was disqualified from qualifying.
He won four out of the seven feature races and one sprint race. His most unfortunate weekend was, sadly for him, his home grand prix where he was very unlucky and had to abandon in both races. But that didn’t stop the PREMA Racing driver from staying dominant.
The Monegasque has scored points in every weekend, if he didn’t win the race he would either be in the top 5 or have a DNF. Leclerc also almost managed a double victory in Baku, but due to a time penalty in Baku’s sprint race, he ended up seconds behind Norman Nato while actually crossing the line first. With just 4 more rounds to go we expect a lot more coming from this talented young man.
DAMS teammates Oliver Rowland and Nicholas Latifi have been protagonists in the fight for the championship as well. While Oliver Rowland has been at the front since the beginning of the season, Nicholas Latifi started the season wobbly, but seems to have found his way with the front runners.
Rowland managed one pole position, due to Leclerc’s disqualification, and two feature race wins. Apart from that, the Briton has had several very strong weekends. Very consistent, he has almost always ended up in the top 5, with some exceptions. Oliver is now second in the driver standing, only 50 points behind the leader and 35 points ahead of 3rd place. He is definitely up there in the fight for the championship and hopefully he will keep giving us some great racing.
Let’s get on to our other DAMS driver Nicholas Latifi, as mentioned before, he started the season rickety. He had some good results, but didn’t immediately stand out. Once he found his pace and confidence, the Canadian has been impressing us bit by bit. Giving us beautiful on-track fights, including with teammate Rowland and eventually winning a Sprint Race. The Renault Sport protégée is now fourth in the driver standing, 93 points behind the leader and 43 points behind his teammate.
With both drivers doing a fantastic job, the team is now leading the team standings with a 42 points lead on the PREMA Racing guys.
In his fourth season Russian Artem Markelov seems to have found his form back. Getting the season on straight from the start with a feature race win in Bahrain, the RUSSIAN TIME driver has been giving us some beautiful on-track action. Even though it hasn’t been all easy for him and the team, struggling from time to time. Strategy and tyre management has been a key part in their success.
Markelov, who sits now third in the driver standings, has been impressing as well. After staring the season with a win, he struggled in the second race weekend, but came back strong after that. Always giving us beautiful overtakes, the Russian is definitely in for a chance this year. We can’t wait to see what he will bring us next time around, with some of his favourite tracks yet to come.
BEST OF THE REST
Luca Ghiotto and Nobuharu Matsushita have been doing good in this season as well, even though it hasn’t always been easy. The two have been pretty consistent, but haven’t always managed to be close up front.
Starting with RUSSIAN TIME’s Ghiotto, he started the season well but got into a little dip. The Italian is yet to win a race this year and his best result was his 2nd place in Spain. And although he scored points in every race weekend, that hasn’t been enough for the Italian to be up front in the title battle. With 113 points less than Leclerc, Luca Ghiotto is unlikely going to be this year’s champion, but the Italian could still surprise and take some point to climb up higher than his actual fourth spot.
While ART Grand Prix’s Nobuharu Matsushita has had a wobblier first “half” of the season, he is slowly coming back to fight harder. Although he is currently fifth in the driver standings and two wins this season, the Japanese is yet to prove more. In his third season, more was expected from the McLaren Young Driver. Obviously his chances at the title are quite impossible, but he could still make up and reach the expectations in the last four rounds.
THE UNLUCKY ONES
Norman Nato and Nyck de Vries are this seasons black sheep. The Pertamina Arden driver and Rapax driver have been having a rough season up until now. With a lot of problem during the races. The expectations for both were higher than what they’ve currently been achieving, yet in their though luck they have been able to show at least once what they’re worth.
In his third season, Norman Nato was expected to do great things. After a very good second season in GP2 last year, the frechman was all set for another great season. Unfortunately, nothing went like planned for the Pertamina Arden driver. The start of the season was his worse in his carreer, with 4 retirements in 10 races and not such great results either.
Nato seems to have finally found his rhythm since his great weekend in Baku, he has been scoring points in every race that he finished. The Frenchman seems to be on a roll, let’s see if he can find last year’s form back.
Nyck de Vries, who won Monaco’s sprint race, has been having mainly problems with the car. The start of the season was rough for the Dutchman, finishing lower than he would want, with a car that just isn’t the best on the grid. He has been struggling at the start of the season, in Monaco it seemed like everything went way better, but though luck hit him again and he just never managed to get the great results one would deserve.
The McLaren Young Driver was expected to do better, but with his 3 retirements and one DNS he is yet to be given the opportunity to show us more of what he can do.
YET TO IMPRESS
Rookies Alexander Albon and Antonio Fuoco who both graduated from GP3 into the series, are yet to show their true potential. After their good season in the feeder series last year, the two were expected to do great things in Formula 2, but they are both yet to finish on the top step.
Alexander Albon is yet to win a race this season. The British-Thai driver seems to not have completely find his way into the series yet. Even though he has managed to finish almost every race in the points, the ART Grand Prix driver is yet to even climb on the podium. With teammate Matsushita doing better than him, he is most definitely feeling the pressure, but being in his rookie season we think he should be able to improve and show his true potential.
On to Antonio Fuoco, he has been the one we thought would be able to fight with the championship leader and teammate Charles Leclerc. With the same car, the PREMA Racing driver hasn’t been able to beat his teammate just yet. The Italian seems to have a harder time trying to figure out the car and finding his pace. He has only finished two races in the points and has barely been anywhere near the front of the field. In the races to come we hope to see more from him.
With Spa and Monza coming up these next two weeks, we can’t wait to see what the rest of the season will bring us.