Formula 2 returns this weekend with the Bahrain pre-season test getting underway on 1st March, lasting for two days. To refresh your memory, this is what happened in the off season.
This year there’s an interesting balance of experience with five of last season’s top 10 returning, whilst seven drivers have stepped up having raced in last year’s FIA Formula 3 including the championship’s top three.
There’s also several drivers in F1 team academies who will hoping to make a good impression for available seats in 2021, when big changes are expected on the Formula 1 grid.
There’s one circuit change from last season, with the French Grand Prix (where last year Nyck de Vries and Anthoine Hubert won the feature and sprint races respectively) removed from the calendar and replaced by the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort.
Hitech are the new team on the grid, bringing the number up to eleven. Since being founded in 2002 they’ve raced various Formula 3 Series, culminating in last year’s FIA F3 Championship, where they helped Juri Vips to 4th place and finished second in the team’s championship.
For their debut F2 season they’ve recruited Luca Ghiotto, who finished third in last year’s championship and will race F2 alongside competing for Ginetta in the GT World Challenge Europe. He partners Nikita Mazepin – the former Force India test driver joins the team from ART.
Last year he partnered Nyck de Vries, the reigning champion who moved to Formula E at the end of last season, so the team will field an all-new driver lineup. They promote two drivers from Formula 3; Christian Lundgaard, who finished 6th in the championship with ART, and last year’s runner-up Marcus Armstrong. Lundgaard will be unable to take part in the first test, following an outbreak of coronavirus at his hotel in Tenerife.
The man who won F3, beating Armstrong by a significant 60 points, also has a drive; Robert Shwartzman has been signed by Prema and will race alongside Mick Schumacher, who finished 12th in his first F2 season last year.
Shwartzman replaced Sean Gelael at the team, so the Indonesian has moved to DAMS, where he will look to improve on his 17th place last season. The second DAMS driver is Dan Ticktum. The British driver was let go by the Red Bull Junior Team after a couple of disappointing rounds in Super Formula and is looking to bounce back this season.
BWT HWA Racelab have joined the grid, replacing Arden International who they worked in a technical partnership with last year. The team has brought in Giuliano Alesi from Trident – son of F1 race-winner Jean – and signed Artem Markelov, who drove for the team following the death of Anthoine Hubert at Spa last year.
Markelov also drove last season for MP Motorsport, who welcome Nobuharu Matsushita, who picked up two race wins last season with Carlin. He’s partnered with Felipe Drugovich, who makes the step up from FIA F3 after working with MP in the post-season Abu Dhabi test.
Carlin have replaced Matsushita with fellow Japanese Yuki Tsunoda, who has raced in the Toyota Racing Series already this year, finishing fourth overall. He is joined by 2019 F3 driver Jehan Daruvala, who finished third in the championship – six places above Tsunoda.
The final British team on the grid is UNI-Virtuosi, they welcome back Guanyu Zhou after he finished in seventh last season. Callum Ilott joins from Charouz, the Ferrari junior told us in Whatsapping With that he was looking forward to the challenge of working with a new team.
The other member of the grid who we’ve spoken to in Whatsapping With is Louis Deletraz, the Swiss driver returning to Charouz after racing for them in 2018. He described the team as ‘like family’ to him, and said he was aiming for wins this season. Racing alongside him is Pedro Piquet, the son of F1 World Champion Nelson who’s been promoted from F3 after recording a fifth place overall last year.
Campos Racing will once again be led by Jack Aitken, who will hope to mount a title challenge having finished fifth last year. He’s joined by Guilherme Samaia, who has graduated from Euroformula Open.
Rounding the grid out is Trident, who welcome Marino Sato from Campos, and were the last team to finish their driver line-up, announcing Israeli Williams test-driver Roy Nissany on Wednesday.